A friend once referred to the Mayfair as “Snake and Jake’s with a mortgage,” but I think that does the bar a bit of a disservice. Though the Mayfair’s late hours can draw a similar late-late-night (read: early morning) crowd, the vibe of the Mayfair is a little more cheerful. The multitudinous Christmas and Mardi Gras decorations (kept up year-round) lend it a celebratory air.

This little slice of a bar manages to cram in a lot of people, all of whom seem to be laughing and dancing under a canopy of tinsel and spangles. But the true heartbeat of the bar is that of the bon vivant owner, Mrs. Gertrude Mayfield. She and her husband took over the lease of the bar back in 1978. She had been drinking at the bar with him since the early 1960s, a time when women weren’t really welcome in bars. They only had the bar for five years when he passed away, and since then the Mayfair has been Mrs. Gertie’s. She is the doyenne of the place, slinging drinks and keeping folks in line while making sure they all have a great time. As she noted in an interview for the Southern Foodways Alliance, “I’m not here to serve people to get drunk. I’m here to have a nice place safe place for people to come and enjoy themselves.”


I hate to break it to Mrs. Gertie, but many, many people are getting drunk in your bar. It’s easy to do when the drinks are cheap and strong. The Mayfair is where you go when the Delachaise or Columns have closed up for the night and you want to keep going. It’s where you keep drinking when you probably should go home. No matter. Though the crowd can get a little bro-heavy, the bros are generally good company. There’s something convivial about drinking in the small, cramped space with holiday decor swaying precariously overhead. Like prom, but everyone is drinking legally. You have to press the door buzzer to get in, a security measure from old times. But as my friend Anthony wryly observed, “Every time the doorbell buzzes, an angel gets its wings.”

Maybe You Like Them Too

Leave a Reply

41 − 37 =