1.18.2014

The Cocktail Hour

Mark and I just had our second trip to New Orleans and, over the next several weeks, I will be sharing with you some of the culinary delights we enjoyed while there as well as some shots of this beautiful city: something to get you in the mood for Mardi Gras.

Doreen Ketchens - of Doreen's Jazz - performing on Royal Street.
Naturally, when thinking of Mardi Gras, cocktails Come to mind.

The Roosevelt Hotel lobby, December 2012
We enjoyed tasting several different traditional cocktails while we were in New Orleans - both this visit and last. Not being of our parents’ "cocktail generation", all these were new to us, and it was a lot of fun sampling these historic concotions.

We started with the signature cocktail of the city: the Sazerac. Of course we went to the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel to have our firsts. This is an elegant shadowy place with club chairs, art-deco detailing, and 1940 murals of New Orleans life by Paul Ninas, It was there we discovered two versions: the Sazerac and the 1840 Sazerac, the latter made with cognac, not rye whiskey. Both were made with Peychaud's Bitters and simple syrup, and were served in a glass rinsed with Herbsaint; both were smooth and potent.

The first time we were in the Sazerac Bar, Mark ordered a Ramos Gin Fizz, reminiscing on a sweet story about his father. His parents were once out to dinner in a small New England town near where Mark grew up with Father Leary, an elegant Episcopal clergyman native to Shreveport, Louisiana. Father Leary ordered a Ramos Gin Fizz and was astonished that the bartender had neither heard of the drink, nor could he find it in his reference book. The clergyman told him how to make it. After listing the ingredients, he was told the bar lacked one key ingredient. The clergyman threw up his arms in despair, exclaiming, "What do you mean you don't have orange flower water?!" It was such an improbable line, that Mark’s father laughed whenever he thought of it, and threw up his arms each time he repeated the tale.

The ingredients needed for a Ramos Gin Fizz are: gin, fresh citrus, cream, egg whites, sugar, orange flower water, club soda, and very strong arms, as they require an immense amount of shaking. When we first tried to make them at home, I was disgusted. In New Orleans, they were so tasty. We tried again at home and I think we got it! We always keep orange flower water in our house in honor of Father Leary and Mark’s father’s delight at recounting that story (and we use it quite frequently!).

These beautiful Mikasa cocktail glasses were a gift from dear friends Marylou and Steve.
This most recent trip, when out to dinner at the Upperline Restaurant (their creamy, cheesy grits recipe is coming soon!), I decided to jump off the Sazerac bandwagon and ordered a Sidecar. That was probably one of the best decisions I have made, as I think I found my new favorite winter cocktail! (The Venetain Spritz still holds my heart for a summer refresher...) Although is is predominantly alcohol, it has a very light citrus taste and feel.

Unfortunately, it is just this is the kind of drink that you think isn't strong and yet, if you have too many, somehow you find yourself waking up somewhere you shouldn't be. One is quite sufficient. Sidecars are made from cognac, triple sec, fresh lemon juice and a bit of simple syrup. They were generally served with crushed ice, but I actually prefer them shaken and served straight up.

Recently I won a cookbook in a giveaway from Culinary Cory! And it fits perfectly into this post on Cocktails! The book is Winter Cocktails by María del Mar Sacasa, and there is one inside called the New Orleans Special, a twist on milk punch with the addition of flambéed and caramelized bananas. This drink is like a warm hug on a winter's day. Thanks, Cory - I wish you lived close enough to stop over for a glass of the New Orleans Special! And thanks, María, for giving me permission to reprint your recipe.

So, if you are getting ready for Mardi Gras, and want a special cocktail or two to serve, here are a few ideas.

Laissez les bons temps roulez!

~ David

The Sazerac
The Official Cocktail of New Orleans
Courtesy of The Roosevelt Hotel's Sazerac Bar

1-1/2 ounces Sazerac 6-year rye whiskey
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Legendre Herbsaint


Line a short rocks glass with Herbsaint, swirl it around the edges to give the inside of the glass a thick coating, then discard the excess.


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Strain into the rocks glass.


Makes 1 drink.


1840 Sazerac

Courtesy of The Roosevelt Hotel's Sazerac Bar

1-1/2 ounces Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Legendre Herbsaint

Line a short rocks glass with Herbsaint, swirl it around the edges to give the inside of the glass a thick coating, then discard the excess.


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Strain into the rocks glass.


Makes 1 drink.


Ramos Gin Fizz

Courtesy of The Roosevelt Hotel’s Sazerac Bar 


The Ramos Gin Fizz requires labor intensive attention. For a bartender, it gives them the chance to show off a bit, due to its need for constant shaking until the drink thickens enough to hold a straw. But you have to wonder if there are times they’d rather you just order a beer.

The drink was invented by Henry Ramos in 1888 at his own bar, the Imperial Cabinet Saloon in New Orleans. The Roosevelt bought the rights to the drink during Prohibition and trademarked the name.


2 ounces Hayman's Old Tom gin
1 ounce heavy cream
1 egg white
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
3 drops orange flower water
Club soda, to top


Shake ingredients with cracked ice for at least a minute – several is better. Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Top with a splash of club soda.


Makes 1 drink.


Sidecar

This is my version of the sidecar from what was shared with me by the bartender at Coquette.

4 1/2 ounces cognac
3 ounces triple sec 

1 1/2 ounces lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup


Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake and pour into a martini glass.
(Straining is an option.)

Makes 2 drinks.


New Orleans Special

From Winter Cocktails by María del Mar Sacasa

4 cups whole milk
6 ounces dark rum, divided
1 ounce brandy
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar 


Combine milk, 4 ounces of the rum, brandy, and cinnamon [sticks] in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. 

In a small bowl, toss bananas with the lemon juice, ground cinnamon, and salt. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add bananas and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until bananas are softened. Remove skillet from the heat, pour in the remaining 2 ounces rum, and carefully ignite the mixture with a long match. When the flame has subsided, transfer bananas and cooking liquid to saucepan with milk. Summer until bananas are completely softened, about 10 minutes.

Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard solids. Serve in warmed cups.

Makes 4 drinks. 

The ceiling at Coquette.
 

36 comments:

  1. Wow, David! What a post! I would love to come to a cocktail party at your house! I did try Brandy Milk Punch at Oak Alley when we were on our cruise and I loved it. It looks like I have a ways to go towards becoming a true connoisseur of NOLA cocktails, though. Hmm...I think this warrants further investigation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan - further investigation will be good for us all!

      Delete
  2. This post is awesome! You listed all of the cocktails I love to drink...sazerac, old fashioned and gin fizz. So glad you like the book. And yes, too bad we didn't live closer, we would definitely meetup for happy hour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Cory! And, someday, you will be here or we will be there and the cocktails will be festive and flowing!

      Delete
  3. What a great post! I can almost smell all the cocktails from here! And that green glass citrus juicer, what a classic! Love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We love that citrus juicer, Liz - it was Mark's mother's and you will see it appear often. Aside from sentimental reasons, it is also rather photogenic! Cheers!

      Delete
  4. Great post and images. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. OMG! My aunt "discovered" Doreen playing on Royal St and hired her band to join us for the street car birthday party we threw for my Dad's 80th. Can't tell you how much fun it was to cruise St. Charles Ave in a street car packed with family and friends listening to Doreen's Jazz!! Now that's a party! We served poor boys and beer, but no mixed drinks. I'll be sure to try yours at home. Thanks for this post and looking forward to more war stories from my home town.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kirsten - I had no idea you were from NOLA! I hope you enjoyed the series - we are listening to Doreen as I type!

      Delete
  6. That's quite an impressive collection David! If I drank, I'm sure I would enjoy them all, but the Sidecar seems the most appealing to me :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nazneen! I appreciate your comment especially since you don't imbibe! :)

      Delete
  7. I learned something new from reading your blog today and that is that Sazerac is New Orleans' signature cocktail! I had no clue!
    Looking forward to all your eats while there...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shashi - what I found interesting is that there was a contest between the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz... the Sazerac only won by a few votes!

      Delete
  8. Love N'Awlins, love jazz and love a good cocktail.
    Not sure which of these I want first - they all look so yummy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Colette, I think we are having Sidecars tonight as we sit here in the garden looking at our unpicked lemons!

      Delete
    2. Sidecars, such a cute name for a drink.
      Lemons are a prized commodity these days, especially homegrown.
      BTW Did you know Andrea went home today?!

      Delete
    3. Yes - we have been chatting the last few days and she wasn't supposed to get home till tomorrow. I was glad she made it today, as it was Thomas' birthday!

      Delete
  9. I'm more of a champagne girl myself but I am more than willing to give these a go :) Beautiful pictures, New Orleans sounds like such a lively interesting place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would definitely start with the Sidecar, then, Karen - very smooth and seductive! NOLA was fun, for sure!

      Delete
  10. David, I love New Orleans…such a fun city! And I love your cocktails…the Sazerac sounds wonderful and now I know NOLA has an official cocktail. Great photos…great post!

    I so enjoyed your comment referencing the Wind and the Willows…it was lovely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathy - that Wind in the Willows excerpt is truly a favorite! I am glad you enjoyed it! Thanks also fro your kind words about the post!

      Delete
  11. What fun to read this post! My mother and I may make a few this week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I might just have to have another Sidecar tomorrow! After all, the lemons are ripe!

      Delete
  12. delicious looking cocktails! i love the way you two travel. where to next?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Valentina! We are hoping for a West Coast Tour - LA for a few days, then the train to Portland for a few days, then more training to Seattle, then home.

      Delete
  13. Dear David, I loved your post, New Orleans is one of the places that I would really love to visit - I always imagine this vibrant, wonderful city with tons of great music and food that I would so adore trying. I do not really drink but I so enjoyed your pictures, fantastic!
    Have a wonderful weekend, dear friend! I appreciated all your messages and kind words! Thank you again for everything!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Andrea - I really think you would enjoy New Orleans. The food and culture are wonderful!

      Delete
  14. This is such a coincidence David, I tried a Sazerac for the first time on Saturday night! It's absolutely delicious, I had no idea that it was from New Orleans. I am very much a fan of simple cocktails that have a bit of kick. This one definitely fits the bill. Loving these New Orleans posts David, looks like you and Mark had an epic time! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You also need to try the Sidecar, Laura - it is so smooth that you have NO idea it is 5/6 alcohol!

      Delete
  15. So many new drinks to try David! The sidecar sounds like the best of the bunch for me, it even has a great name. Adding orange blossom water to a drink would never cross my mind, and the tale is great, and the arm waving magnified through the years probably! It's the main flavoring of panettone here, which is consumed like crazy during christmas, so I always have some too. Not that I've made homemade panettone lately...
    I would love to go to New Orleans; one more city to add to the list...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Paula - your note made me thank that a drop or two of orange flower water might be good in a Sidecar, too!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

If you would like to receive follow-up comments, simply click the "Subscribe by E-mail" link to the right of the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons.