Abigail Gullo welcomes you to Compere Lapin
Compere Lapin is set in the Old 77 Hotel, which was once a coffee warehouse and later a chandlery (a.k.a. a general wholesale business), providing sailing ships with canvas, rope tobacco and other necessities. You can tell this was once a warehouse. The exposed beams and brick don’t feel industrial, just historic. But the bar and lighting keep the feel modern. Depending on your point of view or expectations, you may either think of this as a classic New Orleans place or somewhere totally modern and hip. Regardless, this juxtaposition of styles means there is something here to make everyone feel at home.
The bar at Compere Lapin is under the direction of Abigail Gullo, who won the national title of Bartender of the Year in 2016. The bar is notable for its breadth and depth, and Gullo carries spirits that many bars in New Orleans do not. One example is Grand Poppy, a craft amaro from California that includes poppies in its recipe. She created a drink based around it, Wry Smile, which mixes the amaro with rhubarb, sherry, vermouth and rye. If you put yourself in her hands, you can really explore the bar’s more unusual products.
Abigail is imaginative and her drinks are delicious, but I mostly go to drink at her bar because she is an amazingly generous and funny host. When I asked her about what it means to be a bartender, she explained that her focus when guests come into bar goes beyond making them feel welcome at her bar or her hotel. She is, instead, “welcoming them to the celebration that we throw every day in New
Orleans.” Locals know that something special happens in New Orleans every day, and it’s her job to “help people in my bar navigate what kind of New Orleans day they are going to have.”