Bartenders have always been classified in my book as good people. They are great listeners, fun, witty and, most of all, serve you cocktails. They are everything I ever wanted in a person and they give me vodka. My bartender for the month of May is just an all-around great guy. He is festive, polite, professional, and a master mixologist. I am speaking of none other than Andrew Babin at Crossing NOLA.
Andrew originally hails from Gonzales, Louisiana, and has been living da parish (Chalmette) since 2014. He understandably left his hometown for better bartending opportunities, and to be part of a much larger gay community when he found a fabulous home in NOLA. He has been with Crossing NOLA since December 2018. His normal shifts are Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. Before Crossing, he mainly worked as a bartender in hotels such as the Hyatt Regency and Hilton Riverside.
Andrew is amazing behind the bar. Whenever he is working, he creates a relaxed and chill attitude where patrons can let their guard down, laugh, and enjoy some delicious drinks. He is also quick behind that bar making sure guests are served fast and efficiently. He credits his popularity with customers to his goofy spirit. He loves to crack jokes with guests and coworkers alike to help keep a jovial atmosphere.
He says his favorite thing about being a bartender is the chance to not only meet new people, but to create an experience for them. His favorite customers are the first-timers to New Orleans. It gives him a chance to experience the city vicariously through them, especially when they get excited about things we as locals take for granted, (such as to-go drinks or costumed revelers in the streets). He particularly enjoys working at Crossing because of the camaraderie. “We are in many ways a family and I really enjoy that. Many of my friends in New Orleans are people that I’ve met as customers, or coworkers, at Crossing.”
Crossing NOLA is known for many things but one major asset is their craft cocktail offerings. Andrew created many of the craft cocktails on the menu. His favorite is the Gear Grindr, which is Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, lemon juice and ginger ale. However, when it’s his turn on the guest side of the bar, he is normally a bourbon and Diet Coke with a shot of Fireball kinda guy. He also sees people order unique combinations, but the one that keeps coming back to his mind is Fireball and Dr. Pepper! Blech!
As a bartender in New Orleans, Andrew has many stories. One of the funniest things he has seen from his vantage point behind the bar dates back to when he was bartending in the Hyatt Regency. “Our Sales Department booked a pole-dancing convention (workout type of thing) and a mixed martial arts fighters convention at the same time. You could literally see the guests of the hotel pairing off together right in front of your eyes. Many drinks were purchased and sent across the bar to “the blond in pink” or the “brunette gal in red”. All I can say is I’m glad I was not involved in the housekeeping department that weekend!”
As with all my interviewees, I ask them how has Covid affected them and what do they see for the future of the hospitality industry. “Covid has most definitely changed the landscape of bartending, but I do see it making its comeback. It was extremely rough having to deal with the constant rule changes (bars are closed, now open but only for to-go, closed again, re-open with limited capacity, mask requirements being somewhat vague, etc.) In the end, when we are through this and looking back, I think the industry in New Orleans is going to go back to the way it was. People are always going to want to relieve some stress after work. People are always going to want to party on their vacations. And in particular, the gay bars in the French Quarter also serve as our community centers. It’s where we go to reconnect with each other and catch up on old times.”
Make it a point to see Andrew at Crossing NOLA located at 439 Dauphine Street.