(aka: Queenie, Auntie Mame)
Recalled by her nieces Ti, Lally and nephew Alex as “Auntie Mame and then some,” Adelaide Brennan was a striking redhead who marched to her own drummer. To the younger girls, no other “older people” acted like her. They were all much more sensible, while Aunt Adelaide was the definition of glamorous—and naughty.
Part of a large, hard-working Irish clan of restaurateurs, Adelaide worked hard (late at night – she didn’t do mornings), but squeezed more fun out of each day than anyone else.
In true New Orleans fashion, she did nothing in a small way. She was always just back from some fabulous cruise, posed in full regalia at the bar of some legendary New Orleans watering hole, or carrying on in the wee hours with luminaries of the day.
Her nieces recall legendary stories of Adelaide’s late-night shenanigans playing the fun-loving hostess to the likes of Danny Kaye, Rock Hudson, Raymond Burr, Helen Hayes, Jane Russell (in her bra), Jim Nabors and Bob Hope. When she wanted singing lessons, it was Phyllis Diller; for dancing lessons, Carol Burnett. Small wonder that she rarely descended the magnificent staircase of her grand mansion at Prytania and Second Street before 3 p.m.
Adelaide’s theatrical personality required the proper costume: her wardrobe included a blue fur, a pink fur, a mink, a sable and a monkey coat with a matching hat. One of her pet sayings was “Sparkle plenty”—and indeed, people used to say that when Adelaide said “casual” she simply meant “no sequins.” She and her Yorkshire Terrier, Pud, slept in matching eye shades. When she broke her knee in a household accident, she insisted on being carried upstairs (in great pain) so that she could dress before going to the hospital.
Late in life, when asked why she put perfume on each night before she went to bed by herself, Adelaide responded, “Who do you wear it for?”
Adelaide Brennan died in 1983, but for those who loved her, she lives on – and Café Adelaide & the Swizzle Stick Bar is a tribute to her unique take on living the good life.