If you looked closely at the block-long stretch of humanity waiting to get into the Napoleon House on a steamy Friday afternoon in the French Quarter, you’d find a clue about what was inside the historic restaurant: One man, waiting patiently in the afternoon rain, clutched a framed portrait of Bryan Cranston as his “Breaking Bad” character, Walter White.
So, no, it wasn’t the Pimm’s Cups and muffulettas that drew this crowd. Instead, the folks gathered there awaited the chance to see Cranston with his “Breaking Bad” partner Aaron Paul as the pair stepped behind the bar to sling drinks, each one shaken up with the pair’s new mezcal, Dos Hombres.
“I’ve been a fan of drinking for a long time,” Paul wisecracked as he poured together the ingredients for his mango and jalapeno cocktail, whose recipe he concocted. “Normally, I’m a whiskey guy but, for about five years now, I’ve only been drinking mezcal, only neat.”
Dos Hombres grew out of a hope Cranston and Paul had to work together again, but they feared it was too soon to be onscreen together. Their partnership in “Breaking Bad” has reached cult-favorite status among fans, so it’s a careful consideration to make going forward. Instead, they explored the idea of going into a different kind of business together. The suggestion for a spirits company came up, and they immediately dove into the idea.
The final product comes from San Luis Del Rio, a town in Oaxaca, Mexico.
“When I first started drinking mezcal, it was like a dare, a challenge,” Cranston said, suggesting the spirits he sipped during his high school years weren’t quite like the finer one he puts his name on today.
The appearance from Cranston and Paul piggybacked on Tales of the Cocktail, the liquor convention currently taking over the Royal Sonesta, not to mention many other local venues, by popping up with their own spirit. The timing made sense in particular for Cranston, who’s in town doing some research for a role he’ll take on in an upcoming Showtime miniseries entitled “Your Honor.” He said, he realized he’d be here at the same time as Tales of the Cocktail.
“I knew this was the week to do it so, during the day, I’ve been going out and doing research on the judicial system and at night tasting different mezcals,” he said.
Tickets to Tales of the Cocktail are made available to consumers though the event generally appeals to industry professionals. It is known as a bright spot in the typically slow summer season for local tourism. The event is a compilation of seminars, tastings and branded activations — not to mention celeb-drawing pop-ups and parties. This year’s string of blowouts included a night of bowling from Campari and its sister brands, an interactive “palace” of curiosities from Hendrick’s Gin and a poolside party with Absolut Elyx.
But on Friday, the folks who awaited a taste of Cranston’s and Paul’s new project together weren’t just industry professionals. Social media posts — each amassing thousands of likes from the stars — brought out a crowd Dos Hombres estimated to be around 700 people.
For Paul, however, the event meant a quick in-and-out visit to New Orleans. He said he arrived in the city around 3 a.m. Friday and was due next at ComicCon. It meant he wouldn’t be exploring the city further on this trip.
“I love this city so much,” Paul said. “There’s just such an electricity about it, no other place like it in the world.