Cafe Erzulie’s Haitian Spirit of Love – The New Yorker

Erzulie, the Haitian spirit of love and beauty, holds Thursdays sacred. After reading a longer list of her preferences, it may seem that the vodou goddess had a hand in more than just the name of this new café-cum-cocktail-lounge in Bushwick. Erzulie likes pink and light blue (the color of the floor tiles), sweet-smelling flowers and sparkling wine (provided in the form of the bubbly Kir de Jacmel), and small cakes (sticky buns are sold at the counter). The storefront is also home to Flowers by Leslie, a fifteen-year-old plant shop that was struggling to make rent. Instead of displacing it, the Erzulie owners preserved it as a business, and as a drink. Now patrons can browse the lilies and the basil for sale near the front on their way to grab a Flowers by Leslie cocktail, a pleasantly sour medley of vodka, mint, and St. Germain with crescents of cucumber. If they move farther along, to the back patio, they may chance on an event that would make Erzulie smile: on any given night, there might be Afrofuturist lecturers, a Jamaican lobster festival described as “Kingston meets Kennebunkport,” or live jazz. One evening, a steel-drum player, backed by a snare and an electric bass, performed an instrumental cover of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me.” Around eleven, as the musicians started tapping out the notes to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” a listener in red jeans and a blue button-down leapt up to become their vocalist, singing through the chorus about a dozen times. When the song finished, she twirled over to the band and asked if they knew her. They did not. “It’s all good!” the mysterious singer said. “I’ll see you next Thursday!” Was it the goddess herself? Perhaps. Thursday, after all, is her holy day. ♦

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