In New Orleans, the LGBTQ+ community is very fortunate to have many safe queer and gay spaces with our bar scene being especially large. And the bartenders who work in these establishments are probably some of the finest people you can meet. This month, my Bartender Spotlight is someone who is truly special to anyone who walks into Crossing NOLA. I am talking about the fabulous Quandell Clark.
He is a true force behind the bar. His flamboyant wit and professional treatment of patrons are among some of his best attributes. Once you meet Quandell, you can tell right away he is a local from his Southern charm and hospitality to his mannerisms. I’ve said it many times, “NOLA Boys are the best.” Growing up in Kenner, Quandell now lives in Metairie, which is in Jefferson Parish (our neighbor to the west), which makes him local by proximity.
It is a testament to a person’s work ethic and personality, when s/he comes into a new place and establishes themself as a favorite so quickly. Being a bartender is no easy task; the audience can be quite challenging. If you can win over a drinking crowd of regulars; that is a credit to your skills. Trust me, a pretty face can only go so far behind the bar if you do not have the skills to back it up. This September will mark Quandell’s one-year anniversary at the Crossing. Aside from there, the only bar he has worked at was the Rawhide before its rebranding.
While it’s not a specialty cocktail, Quandell does recommend a specialty drink named “Peach Bum” which he aptly named after himself. It’s a shot of Crown Peach, Sprite, and a spritz of cranberry which combine to make a surprisingly refreshing summer drink. And when you meet Quandell, you will understand why the name “Peach Bum” is a fitting moniker for this drink.
When Quandell enjoys a cocktail, he prefers a whisky and bourbon, more recently ordering a lot of Maker’s Mark. Although he’ll never turn down a shot of pickle vodka either. Bloody Marys are his favorite cocktail to make because he gets to play with the taste and presentation, and given that he loves to cook in his spare time, those things are important to him.
His cocktail skills are top shelf which led to my next question, of “What is your best asset behind the bar?” His cheeky answer (pun intended) was, “Aside from my obvious ‘ass’ets, I believe my people skills, a lot of which I developed from over ten years working retail, and the fact that I am hilarious, help me a lot. It gives me the opportunity to form connections with my guests, whether they’re just visiting or regulars. I genuinely do enjoy meeting and talking to people, which as a bartender I get to do daily. Crossing has such a close knit relationship with both its staff and bar regulars that when I first joined the team it was actually quite intimidating. Now that I’ve become a part of the ‘family’ it’s honestly my favorite thing about working here.”
What was the craziest or most unique thing he has seen behind the bar? His answer was simple: “My first job as a bartender was the closing shift at Rawhide, I think that speaks for itself.” IYKYK, oh the good old days!
I love knowing what bartenders’ pet peeves are so hopefully I do not become that guest, although after asking this question, I am like “Well, maybe I am that bitch sometimes.” His reply to the pet peeve questions was ”I think many bartenders will agree, it’s a customer who doesn’t know what they want, or will ask ‘What do you like to make?’ To that I usually respond with ‘I make the best ice water in the French Quarter, would you like one?’”
So when you are in the mood for a Peach Bum or whatever wets your whistle, Quandell is normally at the Crossing Fridays 1-7pm, Saturdays 4-11pm, Sundays 1-7pm, and Mondays 7-1am. Crossing NOLA is located at 439 Dauphine Street in the French Quarter.