Following up on their successful Manolito cafe, Chris Hannah and Nick Detrich are taking their relationship to the next level. The high profile bartenders just announced plans to team up with business partner John Stubbs to open Jewel of the South, a fine dining destination in NOLA’s French Quarter (1026 St. Louis St.) together this fall.
Hannah will depart his storied post at the legendary Arnaud’s French 75 bar to run the Jewel bar full time. “Working with the Casbarians for the last 14 years has been a great honor. Together, we turned this beautiful rectangle on Bienville Street into a world renowned bar. I’ve been fortunate to shake and stir alongside some of the industry’s greatest talents and the Arnaud’s team will always be family to me,” Hannah told Neat Pour. “Now, I look forward to continuing to express my love of this magical city and its culture through a restaurant designed as a celebration of the town.”
Indeed, Jewel is intended as an homage to NOLA, specifically the original Jewel of the South, a classic mid 19th century establishment. “We’re reviving one of the great bars in the history of New Orleans,” explained Detrich. “Owned by Joseph Santini after his stint at the New Orleans City Exchange, the Jewel of the South, was the first to serve gumbo and the birthplace of the Brandy Crusta.” (Fun Fact: Santini is also widely credited as the first bartender to incorporate citrus juice into drinks.)
The task of upholding this lofty liquid legacy will fall to Hannah “Chris Hannah is going to continue the tradition of NOLA cocktails as he has done throughout his career,” said Detrich. “There is no city in the world more important to the history of the cocktail than New Orleans. The Jewel is feverishly focused on preserving that history and our team will dedicate itself daily to maintaining the lofty standards set over many generations before us.”
Hannah said that the new bar will feature classics like Santini’s Brandy Crusta and the Sazerac, as well as some original recipes of his own.
However, the nods to history will not stop at the drinks list. Housed in a 2200 square foot Creole Cottage dating back to 1830, Jewel is slated to open this fall. Three separate dining areas will serve dinner upstairs, downstairs and in the lush tropical courtyard.
The centerpiece of the downstairs space will be a 19th century antique backbar originally from London. After 100 years of service in England, the bar traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for another 50 years of duty in Washington, DC. The piece will arrive at its new home in New Orleans next month.
Detrich has been busy antiquing to stock the rooms with era appropriate furniture and fixtures. “A lot of the furniture and finishes are going to be things reflective of New Orleans’ rich history that would feel at home in one NOLA’s grande dame restaurants,” he noted.
Jewel’s culinary creations will also honor the city’s rich heritage. Of course, Santini’s signature dish, gumbo will be on the menu. “We will use different gumbos to showcase all things in Louisiana—some ingredients that are often in short supply and others that are common, but we will use in different fashions.”
The remainder of the menu will highlight new takes on other Louisiana classics. Detrich noted that the kitchen will offer a host of small plates that will offer enough flexibility that guests will also be able to put together a coursed meal.
Detrich and Hannah previously collaborated on Manolito, a Cuban cafe also located in the French Quarter. Detrich broke onto the cocktail scene five years ago when he cofounded Cane & Table. Hannah’s career at the French 75 bar is the stuff of legend in the industry; he and the program garnered numerous accolades peaking with a James Beard Award for Best Bar Program in 2017.
Despite the big names and aspirational goals, the focus is not on personalities. “Jewel is about creating a game that honors our city,” declared Detrich.