New Orleans, NOLA, The Big Easy, whatever you call it, is the birthplace of a streetcar worth of classic cocktails. Trying to escape the winter (yet again) my honey and I hopped on a plane and landed in the world of the beignet, chicory coffee and the best damn music of any city. As someone who dabbles in jazz singing, being able to couple that with a huge number of classic cocktails, makes for an incredible trip, f’sho (‘for sure’ in New Awlins speak). On a related note, apparently one should never, ever say N’Awlins or New Or-Leans. Just sayin’.
1 sugar cube
1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1/4 oz. oz. Herbsaint
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube. Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with a lemon peel.
Where we were: The Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt New Orleans: http://therooseveltneworleans.com/dining/the-sazerac-bar.html
History: 1838: Antoine Amedie Peychaud, the owner of a New Orleans apothecary, offered up brandy toddies including his “Peychaud’s Bitters,” made from a ‘secret family recipe’. The toddies were made using a double-ended egg cup as a measuring cup or jigger, then known as a “coquetier” (pronounced “ko-k-tay”). 1850: the Sazerac became the first “branded” cocktail. 1873: the recipe was modified to replace the French brandy with American Rye whiskey, and a dash of absinthe was added. 1940: the recipe was altered to use Herbsaint (a pastis) instead of the absinthe. 2000: the recipe was modified to use Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. 2008: the Sazerac became the official cocktail of New Orleans
3/4 oz. rye whisky
3/4 oz. cognac
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
1/4 tsp. Benedictine
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
Pour the whisky, cognac and vermouth into an old-fashioned glass half-filled with ice. Add the bitters. Add the Benedictine then stir four times with a silver spoon. Squeeze the lemon over the drink then drop it into the glass.
Where we were: Carousel Bar & Lounge in Hotel Monteleone: http://hotelmonteleone.com/new-orleans-dining-entertainment/carousel-bar-lounge/ (the 25 seat bar is actually a rotating carousel – totally need one of these in my house)
History: As a start, the Creole pronunciation is “VOO-ka-ray,” y’all, meaning “old square”. This drink was invented in 1938 by Walter Bergeron, the head bartender at the Monteleone Hotel, one of the grand French Quarter hotels. It was invented for The Swan Bar, which was the predecessor to the Carousel Bar & Lounge. According to the Hotel Monteleone, “It was created as a tribute to the different ethnic groups of the city: The Benedictine and cognac to the French influence, the Sazerac rye as a tribute to the American influence, the sweet vermouth to the Italian, and the bitters as a tribute to the Caribbean. Prohibition had been lifted only a few years earlier as a way of stimulating commerce.”
2 oz. dry gin
1 oz. heavy cream
1 egg white
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 tsp superfine sugar
2 to 3 drops orange flower water
Combine all ingredients in a chilled cocktail shaker filled with cracked ice, then shake viciously for at least one minute. Strain into a chilled Collins glass and fill with cold seltzer or club soda.
Where we were: Tony Moran’s Restaurant: http://www.ruebourbon.com/tonymorans/ (the food and service totally sucked, but the cocktail was quite tasty!!)
History: Originally named ‘The New Orleans Fizz’, Ramos Gin Fizz’ history goes back to 1888. Created by Henry C. Ramos at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon (Ramos’ bar), the drink didn’t officially cement it’s reputation until 1907 at The Stag, another one of Ramos’ bars. Legend has it that upon the enactment of Prohibition, Ramos finally decided to share his recipe after previously keeping it a closely guarded secret. Although noted in the above recipe that the drink is to be shaken for at least one minute, rumour has it that Ramos insisted it be shaken for 15.
2 oz. dark rum
2 oz. passion fruit juice
1 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp simple syrup
1 tbsp grenadine
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a Hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.
Where we were: Pat O’Briens: http://www.patobriens.com/patobriens/
History: This cocktail, a popular choice for tourists, was created at Pat O’Brien’s bar, one of the most famous French Quarter bars. The name of the drink came from the shape of the glass the cocktail is served in, as it resembles a hurricane lamp. The most iconic place to have one is obviously at Pat O’Brien’s in the legendary courtyard overlooking the fountain, but you can find them in numerous other taverns around the city.
Note: I suggest staying away from the powdered ‘Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix’ and sticking with the recipe above (as cloying as the original is (one per visit to New Orleans is definitely enough), the powdered stuff is sheer ickiness).