Jefferson Bourbon founder and whiskey maker Trey Zoeller (a Tulane grad) recently took a 23-foot Sea Pro boat carrying two 53-gallon oak barrels of bourbon down Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama rivers where he met up with John Besh to throw a wild party at the chef’s Pigeon and Prince venue on Camp Street in downtown New Orleans.
We were fortunate to score an invitation and this was a fine fete.
Zoeller comes into the industry with a good bloodline: his great grandmother was a moonshiner in the 18th century.
The young bourbon man says that she was “the first American woman arrested for illegal distilling.”
Our grandma grew cannabis on a farm in Eastern Kentucky in the 1940s so we know the sort of pride the man feels.
Walking into Pigeon and Prince we’re greeted by a pair of hostesses, told the party is upstairs and begin making our way through the gilded halls. The room is dead sexy and we imagine the venue will host plenty parties for the well-heeled New Orleans set.
On the second floor, a sea of khaki greets us. If we had a dime for each pair of Duck Heads we’d retire to the Rio Grande Valley and grow old while eating barbacoa tacos and doing our own experiments with batches of pulque. We immediately rush the bar, order a pair of old fashioneds and hit the buffet line where endless hillocks of Benton’s country ham have been constructed.
We have a rich history with Allan Benton and this is one of our greatest eating experiences in New Orleans: mountains of Tennessee ham washed down with ice cold glasses of bourbon. And caviar. We begin building canapes of ham roll-ups stuffed with fish eggs, and no one bats an eye. Waitresses make the rounds passing out deep fried oysters, popovers and bruschetta.
Zoeller’s ship’s captain Ted Gray is introduced to roaring applause. He’s a rough looking young salt. Out of the blue we spot Nell Nolan! She’s New Orleans’ top high society reporter and we resist the urge to bull-rush her to pay our respects.
Too soon, the party grinds to a halt and we make our way out into the streets. We strike up a conversation with another displaced party-goer who informs us that bottles of this river-tested bourbon are to be sold for $500 apiece to benefit John Besh’s foundation.
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