Stocking up on libations for big events is nothing new to New Orleans bars and liquor stores, but after Saints star quarterback Drew Brees injured his hand in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Shams on September 15 local businesses shockingly are struggling to meet demand.
Businesses across Greater New Orleans are seeing alcohol sales that rival the massive numbers typically posted during Mardi Gras seasons putting a strain on supplies.
“It’s crazy out here. I’ve run out of whiskey and vodka eleven times since Drew first went out,” said Morgan Richardson, manager of Uptown’s Salut Bar and Grill.
Richardson said he first noticed the mad rush begin immediately as the TV broadcast showed Brees standing on the sideline with his taped hand and helmet off while backup Teddy Bridgewater jogged into the huddle.
“Customers have been ordering four and five drinks at a time and non-regulars are pouring in all day like it’s Mardi Gras,” Richardson said. “And this was before the team had even made an announcement that he was questionable to return. Just the thought of Drew getting dinged up apparently scared the hell out of people.”
Since the moment Bridgewater went under center instead of the ironman Brees, demand for alcohol has crept up steadily, and many anticipate the coming weeks will set records. And while Who Dats are doing all they can to stay optimistic, deep down there is a nervousness not felt since before the Payton-Brees era began in 2006.
“I think this has been building for a while, not only with the apprehension of Drew getting older and the thought of life without him but also with how the league has been toward us,” Chris Sunseri manager of the Warehouse District’s Darkhorse Bar said. “This goes back to how last two seasons ended and has been stewing for eight months if not more.”
The Darkhorse has developed specially alcoholic drinks for the coming weeks with names they say will help customers deal with those issues by letting them vocalize their feelings. Patrons will cathartically get to yell to bartenders they want a drink such as the EffRef, Vinobitch, the Foot Locker, the NFL Can Kiss My A**, Goodell Face Punch, the Hey Roger F**k You, or the 28-3.
“These very strong specialty drinks are for the people who don’t have time to sip on a drink. They want to get drunk and they want to get drunk now,” Sunseri said.
What do experts think of the soaring alcohol sales?
“Aside from Drew being injured and the grief that has caused, the issue goes much deeper. This likely all has to do with a strong desire to support and watch the Saints while also not wanting anything to do with the NFL who continue to blatantly screw the fanbase and franchise over with horrible officiating,” WNGN-TV sports analyst Abigail Hendricks said.
“Everyone in New Orleans despises the NFL and Roger Goodell, and having to technically support the league by watching the Saints just makes them want to drink and curse. I have to cover the NFL for Neutral Ground News, and I’ve had a buzz going since last season’s NFC championship.”
Never one to hide from helping people drown their troubles, New Orleans businesses have made sure to be well equipped for this season, more so than typical seasons. Richardson said Salut has rented out rooms in the Morial Convention Center to stock kegs and endless bottles of liquor for the rest of the 2019 NFL season.
“With the NFL treating the Who Dat Nation like it is and Drew going down, it’s a powder keg about to go off. If I were Roger Goodell, I’d pause league play until Drew is able to return or shit is going to get real. That won’t make up for everything but it’s a start.”