At the back door of the cave-like New Orleans Bacchanal Wines is a sign:
I walked under it into a leafy little enchanted courtyard that seemed magically bigger on the inside – one that swayed with the sounds of live music and the strings of lights that festoons its trees. A pit-master tended the smoldering hickory chunks under a hog and patrons shared their tables and their wine with me. The whole affair radiated an elusive kind of effortless cool that comes from doing something really well while not seeming to try too hard, and was implausibly lively for a Monday night.
So as I relaxed in the spring sunshine, listening to the rich sounds of the cellist from the band gazebo, eating the sweetly smoked and melting tender pork, a green seed of inspiration in my brain began to germinate into a plan.
I am going to steal this.
I would rip off everything I loved about this place, I would plagiarize the hell out of the incredibly simple idea of food + garden + music + people. I would even embezzle the name for myself and call it “Bacchanal”. And of course, I’d bring a few touches of my own to things, give it a little Smoke and Thyme spin.
Anyone who knows me might have guessed: that last bit is where things got a little out of hand.
Narnia was already in the mix, and I added Wonderland, Oz and Neverland. I acquired a wardrobe, a lawn flamingo and peacock, built a fairytale speakeasy and a cuddly toy petting zoo, investigated hiring a live sloth (literally more expensive than renting a unicorn), sealed invitations with wax, draped every piece of flora in the garden with fairy lights, manifested a shipping crate that travels between fictional worlds, filled “drink me” potions, painted mannequins, commissioned a poster, turned a filing cabinet into a smoker and gave my bank manager an aneurysm.
Bacchanal has become the quixotic apotheosis of the Smoke and Thyme vision made manifest – a mythical, hedonistic backwoods garden party, plucked from a fever dream and rearranged at the intersection between our world and another far stranger one.
Featuring open fire cooking and a grazing table, a fairy tale speakeasy full of strange tonics and elixirs, outlandish characters and costumes from Victoriana and fantasy fiction, all brought here, for your pleasure and delight, for one night only.
June 8th, 2019
205 ¾ Divinity Road