SARA ESSEX BRADLEY PHOTOGRAPH
See if this sounds familiar: From great disaster can come amazing accomplishments. In 1788, the second of three village-threatening fires faced by colonial New Orleans destroyed this community’s church. A Spanish government official, Don Almonaster y Roxas (sometimes noted as Rojas), was so moved by the destruction that he pledged his personal fortune to the rebuilding of the church, as well as a public school, the cabildo (seat of government), a charity hospital, a convent for the Capuchin order and a chapel for the Ursuline Convent. He also was the father of Micaela, better known to us as Baroness Pontalba, creator of the two impressive buildings that line Jackson Square.
Don Almonaster is buried in the church he rebuilt, St. Louis Cathedral. His daughter’s great home in Paris, Hotel de Pontalba, is today the residence of the United States Ambassador to France.
None of the importance of this history has been lost on Murf Reeves, talented mixologist at Sylvain, and he has done his part to honor Don Almonaster by creating a wonderfully refreshing namesake summer drink.
Reeves had a close connection for inspiration. The Don also constructed a three-story carriage house at 625 Chartres St., the address of the trendy Sylvain bar and dining establishment.