Interview with New Orleans Rising Star Bartender Jesse Carr of Balise

by Caroline Hatchett
February 2016

Caroline Hatchett: How did you get your start in the industry?
Jesse Carr:
I was in college in Los Angeles and got a job at a sports bar called Yankee Doodles. I did that and started to like it, more the hospitality part of it and making people smile. It selfishly made me feel good about myself. I went to New York in 2002 and got my first job at a cocktail bar. I got it with good people; they got me into the flavors behind things, the history behind things. I worked with guys from Violet Hour and Death & Co, and then Maison Premiere for close to four years. Everyone went for the same ideal. 

CH: Who are your mentors?
Joaquin Simo and Toby Maloney

CH: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
I’m involved in USBG, Hogs for the Cause. Lots of charity. Mia [Devillier] and I do as much as we can to work with local farms to buy citrus. There are so many small farms and people to work with locally.

CH: What's your five-year plan?
I would like to own my own bar or be distilling grappa or brandies. Growing muscadine grapes out in North Shore and playing that with as a grappa base. 

CH: What is your most underrated cocktail ingredient?
The story behind the drink.  I have found that having a story to tell creates a larger experience between people, the drinks and the bartender.   

CH: What is the cocktail trend you would most like to see? 
People pushing the boundaries of flavor and style of drinks.

CH: Which city’s cocktail culture would you most like to explore and why?
Copenhagen. I think that great food towns tend to have the best bars, too. Also, I have yet to meet anyone from there I didn’t like.