The Art of Hospitality

A Mobile native returns to port and opens her doors to share a hospitable spirit with Downtown shoppers.

Lauren McGowan of Lohibition holding a non-alcoholic cocktail in front of her store.
Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

It’s a Tuesday morning and Lauren McGowan drops her chihuahua rescue, Biscuit, off at doggy daycare on St. Anthony Street before swinging through Nova Espresso for some caffeine. She then grabs a to-go order of beignets from Mo’Bay before unlocking her little boutique, Lohibition, on Dauphin Street and placing the open sign out on the sidewalk. Since moving back to her hometown late last fall, this has been her daily routine as a small business owner in the central business district. “I’m taking full advantage of being a Downtown girl,” she explains. 

She has a contagious laugh that bubbles up like champagne, out of nowhere, a wicked sense of humor and a huge love for Mobile. After living away from the Deep South since leaving for college at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and later living and working in Rhode Island, McGowan was pulled back home by so many things. “My family is here. I feel better here. There’s a spirit here that’s not there. There’s just so much joy.” 

And flavor. McGowan talks about how she missed flavorful Gulf Coast cuisine while in the Northeast. “I mean, nutmeg is not a spice!” she complains about the dusting once given her lobster roll in Mystic, Rhode Island. The Downtown restaurants are now meeting her flavorful seafood needs, which were deprived for so long. “Food is joy and love,” she gushes. And part of sharing joy with those you love is welcoming them to your home, breaking bread and clinking glasses. 

While “Lo,” as she is sometimes called, loves a good cocktail from time to time, she also firmly believes that part of making your guests feel welcome is to offer creative and delicious non-alcoholic drinks when entertaining. Putting just as much energy and effort into something without the booze will go a long way with your friends who might not want to partake for any number of reasons. 

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“Alcohol can tear people’s lives apart,” she says, “so I can assist you in chilling, and we hope you’re better for it.” Her little shop offers all sorts of syrups, mixers, nonalcoholic brews and garnishes to help you “satiate and celebrate,” as she says. McGowan is passionate about ingredients and nutrition, a font of information about adaptogens and vitamins, helping you feel good without anything hard. At the end of the day, she says she just loves “the art of hospitality,” and Southerners have that skill perfected.

“I just full-heartedly, no shame about it, love Mobile.” She clinks a glass, her laugh bubbling out like the fizzing water in her drink, full of joy and Gulf Coast soul.

The Golden Gal 

The Golden Gal Mocktail by Lauren McGowan

Recipe by Lauren McGowan
makes 1

1/2 ounce orgeat simple syrup 
1/2 ounce lavender simple syrup
4 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice 
2 ounces club soda
1 drizzle rosemary simple syrup
1 dried or dehydrated orange slice, for garnish

1. Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until cold. 

2. Fill a double old-fashioned glass with crushed ice. Strain the contents of the shaker into it. Top off with club soda and give a quick stir. 

3. Drizzle a small amount of rosemary simple syrup on top and garnish with an orange slice.

*For a lighter spritzer, serve in a highball glass and use more club soda. 
* For a stronger drink, strain into a martini glass and use a splash of club soda.

Make Your Own Simple Syrups

Making syrups from scratch is easy and affordable! Simply combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Add herbs, zest or other flavorings and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until cool to infuse the flavor (or up to several hours). Remove herbs or peels and store covered in the refrigerator for up to one month. 

What is Orgeat? 

Orgeat (pronounced or-zhaat) is a mix of almond and orange flavors and has been described as tasting like liquid marzipan. It is a key ingredient in the Mai Tai and adds a delicious complexity to cocktails and mocktails alike.

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