But, who wouldn’t after 13 months and $6.5 million spent renovating their family’s 127-year-old flagship restaurant Commander’s Palace, destroyed by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina?
Instead, buoyed by good old-fashioned Southern grit and charm, the cousins decided to harness their craving for alcohol and write In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks, a recipe book of 75 cocktails, their history and why they’re important to New Orleans.
Included are recipes such as cocktail legend “sazerac,” invented in the 1880s by a New Orleans apothecary, and their own creation, the “Tequila Mockingbird.”
“It was a delightful relief in the middle of all this horror,” said Martin, who was waylaid in Houston in the aftermath of the hurricane. “Everyone was scattered–employees and owner alike–throughout the country. The cousins weren’t sure they would make it back to their beloved New Orleans, where the Brennan family runs a restaurant empire, which includes Commander’s Palace, Café Adelaide and The Swizzle Stick Bar.
But everyone eventually made it back, more determined than ever to rebuild the city. Now there is a new type of customer, said the cousins. New Orleans is being repopulated by group of people who want to help and can be of help by participating by visiting the city. And the visitors are not coming to shuttered streets and closed establishments. In fact, said Brennan, “We have many more fine dining restaurants now than before the Hurricane. And now the city is about Southern fun and hospitality and the street cars and the Mississippi. So no matter the weather, the cousins will continue running Commander’s Palace, writing more cookbooks (Ti has already written three), putting together new cocktails recipes, and staying connected to the city they have seen through thick and thin.
Their dedication–already strong–was reinforced at the reopening night of Commander’s Palace. “It was a very special moment. We realized that what we do is make wonderful memories for everyone. People would be hugging and crying and kissing and saying wonderful things. Over 127 years we’ve touched a lot of lives and it makes you realize what’s important,” said Brennan.
“From the hurricane and the restaurant, you learned, you just can’t crumble. You have to go forward,” said Martin.
By Cara Tabachnick for Petergreenberg.com.
Hear Ti Martin and Lally Brennan live on Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio this weekend. Also, Pam Senatore, vice president of the New Orleans Horizon Initiative fills us in on the rebuilding of the city, Chris Walsh of the Rocky Mountain News checks in, and consumer travel reporter Chris Elliot fill us in on the latest breaking travel news.
Interested in traveling to New Orleans? Check out “Two Years Later, Two Stories of New Orleans”.
Visit the Women’s Travel section.
Previously by Cara Tabachnick for PeterGreenberg.com: