Under the (Worldly) Influence

Bartender Jeremy J.F. Thompson makes his mark at the Eiffel Society.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

A seasoned traveler with a passion for early American history, bartender and mixologist (though he’s somewhat reluctant to call himself the latter), Jeremy J.F. Thompson is a perfect enhancement to the Eiffel Society, a contemporary venue on St. Charles Avenue that is influenced by a blend of cultures and time periods. The Eiffel Society seeks to push boundaries; Thompson says it aspires to be “a beacon of sorts, offering itself as real estate for organizations, businesses and individuals that reflect the pride of New Orleans. … Our hope is to develop outward to have all the members of Eiffel Society live as an extension of our practice, thereby making our building into a facility for programs designed by our members.”

Thompson, who has lived in cities all over the world, says that it was only when he came to New Orleans that he felt at home. “I returned to New Orleans several times a year, feeling like each time was a trip home,” he says.

“Now that I’m here, I can say with certainty that I will die in this city.”

Cocktail culture, aptly, is a large part of his life but not just because he makes the drinks. He says he was drawn to the archetypes of gambler, gunfighter, jazz musician and bartender – they all, he says, “seem especially unique, with all of them having been born out of the process of multiple cultures immigrating to one locale.” The cocktail, Thompson believes, is “the best picture of immigration to the United States …Take the manhattan, for example – aromatic bitters likely brought here by German immigrants, Italian vermouth and American rye whiskey distilled using Irish and Scottish technology.”

Thompson has years of experience in the industry; he worked extensively in the fields of marketing, branding and event execution in New York City; he also worked as a brand educator for Russian Standard Vodka and Lucas Bols USA. Trained as a bartender, he says: “Mixology, as we understand it today, is a trend, whereas bartending is a social necessity. If you’re not a bartender, you have no business being a mixologist. If you’d like to learn about classic or innovative cocktails, then do so, but at the end of the day, make sure you’re giving your guests the drinks they want, which begins with knowing who they are.”

As the Eiffel Society hosts a wide range of guests and clients, at its heart is an appeal to “those who appreciate
the products of the imaginations in New Orleans,” he says. “Our drinks are damn fine products of
the imagination.”

But as much as Thompson relies on his own creativity, he also thrives on feedback from those who are imbibing; his relationship with patrons is symbiotic. He gets his ideas for drinks “from those who’ll be drinking them. [It’s] supply and demand. The best art is that which understands its purpose.”

A recent concoction he made featured Galliano, lime juice, white rum and pineapple-flavored
Big Shot soda, a blend of highbrow and lowbrow ingredients, which he says is his signature.

“There is such a complexity to the experience of New Orleans,” he says. “For many, this city breeds a sense of wonder, but for those who are looking for a purpose, for a sense to apply themselves at length and in depth, New Orleans is an endless expanse of possibility. I am where I want to be, doing what I want to do.”

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