TWO LOVELY NEW ORLEANS CLASSICS

I love these two wonderful old classic New Orlean cocktails…The glory that was the Sazerac and the grandeur that was Ramos gin fizz in the old days had people from far away dreaming about the city where these magnificient cocktails were made.

And rightly so…

Both of these cocktails are masterpieces and they are only two of several equally fantastic cocktails that was invented in the city where the cocktail was born. My quite often to-go cocktail at home is the Sazerac, it´s easy to make and always tasty.

The Ramos gin fizz is equally tasty but different like day and night and requires much more work to make but the result is worth the effort and i find it an excellent breakfast or brunch cocktail.

I don´t make it as often as the Sazerac though since i don´t drink cocktails at breakfast during working weeks and rarely in the weekends either to tell you the truth – unless i´m on a holiday – and if that holiday takes place in New Orleans (which it always does) a breakfast cocktail is more the norm than not – at least during Tales.

The Sazerac

The home of the Sazerac was at 116 Royal Street. The bar itself was at the rear of the building facing Exchange alley. I have already written about this drink and the peychauds bitters though and you can read it here.

History has it that an average of 400 cocktails a day was served and more than 500 000 cocktails a year at the bar and that the rule of the house was to not serve any more to any guest showing any signs of drunkeness.

And it´s said that one day a tall Texan came in and ordered a Sazerac and then another and another and since he showed no signs of being drunk he was allowed to order even more which he did – ending up ordering 24 stiff cocktails – still not showing any signs of drunkeness – how that is possible i have no idea….i wonder if the story is true?

The Ramos Gin Fizz

The home of the Ramos gin fizz was owned by H.C Ramos and Co and located for many years at the corner of Gravier and Carondelet, later moving to a bigger building closer to St Charles st.  Several “shakers” were helping out to shake each drink for about ten minutes to get that wonderful soft and balanced fluffy fluff that is a Ramos gin fizz…

These “shakers” job was only to shake up the drinks and was not entrusted to made up the drink – i believe that was a guarded secret…

The thing with the Ramos fizz is that it needs to be drunk fairly quick because it loses that special quality which makes it so good very fast, it should be drunk preferably within ten minutes. But since it´s such a light and smooth drink it´s no problem to imbibe it within ten minutes and you won´t get too drunk either – or even drunk at all – really i have never myself been able to NOT finish it later than that – it´s simply too yummy.

Of course you can make a Ramos gin fizz that is nice in less time than 10 minutes, i have actually never even been shaking one in ten minutes but maybe there is a difference? the usual way to do it is to dry shake it first (shake without ice) to get the egg white to emulsify with the rest of ingredients and then add ice and shake some more. Also one can use a hand-mixer to get it done even faster.

In any case – the drink is just lovely…it´s like drinking “clouds” or “cotton”, it´s so soft and smooth and those citrus notes so deliscious….and really a good start of the day.

It´s said that 3000 fizzes was served daily. I also wrote about the Ramos gin fizz here. The drink had to be hand-shaken and even though several “shaking machines” were tried they all failed since the result never was the same as when the drink was shaken by hand.

A real handcrafted cocktail!

RAMOS GIN FIZZ

1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. milk (half & half or cream if preferred)
1 small egg white
2-3 drops of orange flower water (careful here! you don´t want this drink to taste and smell like a bottle of perfume)
Soda

Shake all ingredients except the soda and shake very well, when you think you`re done, shake some more –  the more the better – and shake first without ice and then with ice – so that the egg white emulsifies and the drink becomes very cold and frothy. (Or use the handmixer way to do it – but really if you want to follow tradition…shake, shake, shake..)

Then strain into a chilled highball glass without ice. Top with a little club soda to get some fizz. No garnish – usually, but if you like to – a thin strip of orange, lemon or lime peel/slice is nice i think.

SAZERAC

1/2 teaspoon herbsaint or absinthe
1 teaspoon of simple syrup or 1 cube of sugar or 1 tsp of granulated sugar
4  (or even more) dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Optional: 1 dash angostura, not tradition but it opens up the flavors
2 ounces rye whiskey
Strip of lemon peel

Fill a 3-1/2 ounce Old Fashioned (rocks) glass with ice. Place the sugarcube in another glass and moisten it with water until it saturates and crush it or use simple syrup. Mix with whiskey and bitters, add ice and stir to chill.

Discard the ice from the first glass and add herbsaint or absinthe and coat the sides of the glass, then discard the excess (i like to leave a drop or two in the glass) Strain the rye into the glass and twist a lemon peel over the glass to express the oils, then rim the glass with it as well.

Discard the peel, or if you like use it as garnish – but don`t drop the entire peel back in the glass.

Sazerac – the glass is always half full…

SWIZZLES part 3 – 151 Swizzle

To continue my swizzle series…here`s the 151 Swizzle – and this is one hell of a tasty drink! it`s very simple too – and the combination of ingredients is brilliant. This drink was served by Tony Ramos at Don the Beachcomber`s in Hollywood in the 1960s.

Using 1.5 oz of the heavy Lemon Hart 151 demerara rum this drink is very distinct with a power of its own. Demerara rum is my favorite rum, it has the same pungent flavor as pot still Jamaican but is a bit smoky with a flavor that is unmatched.

The 151 Swizzle is also what is going to be made by 151 bartenders who will perform the very first unique swizzle ritual named 151 SWIZZLE-BE HERE NOW which i wrote about in my first pre-Tales post for TOTC 2011.

That means that all 151 bartenders will swizzle together at the same time in the same place with 151 original swizzle sticks from Guyana making the 151 Swizzle!  and guess who´s gonna imbibe them?

Well, i`ll hopefully be one…together with the rest of the folks attending this seminar lead by Stanislav Vadrna. It`s a veritable 151 Swizzle party! and on top of that held in my favorite place on earth – my beloved New Orleans.

There might still be tickets left..check on the TOTC blog.

Now back to the 151 Swizzle, it`s tasty and it´s strong and has that extra touch of spiciness from freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon stick, depth from the Lemon Hart 151 rum, a touch of anis from Pernod (or Herbsaint) and a balanced sweet-tartness from sugarcane syrup and fresh lime –  it´s handsdown one of the best swizzles out there.

Here´s the recipe (from Remixed) to make it at home:

151 SWIZZLE

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup ( I use Petit Canne – because it has a special flavor)

1.5 oz Lemon Hart 151 (or El Dorado)

Dash Angostura bitters

6 drops Pernod ( i used Herbsaint)

8 oz crushed ice

Freshly ground nutmeg

Put everything except nutmeg in blender and blend for 5 sec. Pour unstrained into a tall glass with flaired top if possible to give more room for the freshly grated nutmeg on top. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Of course you can swizzle instead of blending, it´s a swizzle after all.. swizzle or blend and If you blend make sure to not blend for more than 5 sec unless you want it slushy..

And since this one is very strong even though the melting ice dilutes the heavy rum in it i think it´s good with just one unless you pace it, drink some water and let enough time pass in between drinks.

And that is said by one who likes strong rum drinks.

Happy swizzling!

ORIGINAL NEW ORLEANS COCKTAILS pt3 – The Frappè and the Crusta

These are two gorgeous cocktails. The Herbsaint frappè is the Herbsaint signature cocktail and a frappè (fra-pay) is an iced drink where the outer of the glass is covered with a thin film of ice from the stirring. You fill the glass to the brim with cracked ice and pour in the liquid and stir until you get that film on the outside of the glass. There are recipes where this drink is shaken too but i prefer the stirring method.

Then you either keep the ice in the glass or strain out the liquid into another glass that is chilled and remove the ice from the frosted glass before pouring the liquid back again. This is so that the drink doesn`t get dilluted. Now you have an ice cold frosty frappè to enjoy by sipping it slowly.

I personally like the nice touch of adding a few dashes of Peychauds or Creole Bitters on top, it adds a nice color and a little spice.

HERBSAINT FRAPPÈ

herbsaint-frappe

2 oz Herbsaint

1/2 tsp simple syrup or sugar

2 oz carbonated or plain water

And if you will – a nice touch of Peychauds (or Creole Bitters) on top

Pour the liquid in a glass and add 3/4 of cracked ice. Add the simple syrup or sugar and the carbonated water. Fill the glass with more cracked ice and stir until you get that frost on the outside.

Strain into another glass that is chilled and remove the ice from the frosted glass and pour back the liquid. Now you have a frosted herbsaint frappè. Use absinthe and you have an absinthe frappé.

Here´s an old recipe ffrom 1933 using Benedictine:

1933 LEGENDRE ABSINTHE FRAPPÈ

Fill large glass with shaved ice
One Teaspoon Benedictine
Two Tablespoons Legendre Absinthe
Four Tablespoons of water

Cover Glass with a shaker and shake until frosted-strain into a chilled small glass and serve.

THE BRANDY CRUSTA

brandy-crusta

A true New Orleans classic and invented in 1852 by Joseph Santina who owned and operated the City Exchange on Gravier Street. It has a unique and stunning  garnish in that a large lemon peel almost entirely coats the inside of the glass which also has a sugar rim.

This drink`s formula has a base spirit (brandy) sweetened by an orange liqueur and then  lemon or lime for the sour. And is the base for many modern classics like for example the Margarita (Tequila, Cointreau, Lime Juice)

1.5 oz Brandy
0.25 oz Maraschino liqueur
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
Lemon peel spiral and sugared rim for garnish

Start with moistening the rim with lemon and then coat the rim heavily with fine sugar. Peel ½ inch wide and long lemon peel, long enough to go around the whole glass on the inside. Shake the ingredients with ice and then strain in to the glass. Use a wine or cognac glass or a double old fashioned glass.

Its a very balanced drink where sweet and sour meets strong and the garnish peel adds another dimension as do the sugared rim, – this is a also great cocktail.

CREOLE BITTERS

creole-bitters1

With spring comes new bitters…

Released in Europe while awaiting approval for the US – the Bitter Truth has come up with a stunning product – the Creole Bitters – and they make a spicy intense Sazerac..

The Creole bitters are based on a sampling of a pre-prohibition version of Peychaud’s – which makes them similar to Peychaud`s yet different in that there´s a stronger herbal component here, more earthy/spicy and the nose is strong.The Creole bitters has slightly less of the anise even though anise is the dominating flavor –  with more complexity, spice and bitterness.

I think this its great that we now have these bitters as Peychaud`s is extremely difficult to find outside of the US and some classic cocktails really needs those bitters so with the Creole bitters it will now be possible for many to mix these cocktails and of course here we have a great potential to mix up a range of other exciting cocktails.

What an interesting nose and flavor these bitters have – i can`t exactly put my finger on what all these flavors are…more than “spicy” and hm…familiar yet different. And so of course immediately i wanted to make a Sazerac and then comes an intersting question up as these bitters are spicier than Peychaud`s – a little dash of Angostura or not?

The Sazerac do not originally have that in the recipe but a little dash of Angostura makes a nice Saz..and it`s used quite often together with the Peychaud`s.  But with these spicier bitters now i don´t think we need that.

Another thing that sometimes is used in the Sazerac cocktail is a little vanilla extract and that i can imagine could go quite well with the Creole bitters as well. I´ll try that but not just now – this time its a regular Saz…with only the Creole bitters because after all – i wanted to find out how they were in this cocktail.

SAZERAC

creole-sazerac1

1/2 teaspoon Herbsaint or Absinthe
1 teaspoon of simple syrup or 1 cube of sugar or 1 tsp of granulated sugar
4 dashes Bitter Truth Creole bitters
2 ounces rye whiskey
Strip of lemon peel

Fill a 3-1/2 ounce Old Fashioned (rocks) glass with ice. Place the sugarcube in another glass and moisten it with water until it saturates and crush it or use simple syrup. Mix with whiskey and bitters, add ice and stir to chill.

Discard the ice from the first glass and add herbsaint or absinthe and coat the sides of the glass, then discard the excess (i like to leave a drop or two in the glass) Strain the whiskey into the glass and twist a lemon peel over the glass to express the oils, then rim the glass with it as well. Discard the peel, or if you like use it as garnish – but don`t drop the entire peel back in the glass, it would give too much citrus flavor.

This made for an interesting – more intense and spicier Sazerac. Its actually amazing…

The Creole bitters are not only a lifesaver for those who cannot so easily find Peychaud`s, its also a great addition to the cocktail world and there´ll be many exciting cocktails coming i`m sure. I like Peychaud`s and will not abandon them but i`ll use these just as much and for my part i believe my cocktail experience will be greatly enriched by the Creole bitters. My mind of course also goes to tiki cocktails.

As soon as these bitters are available in the US – folks – go and try them out, you won´t regret it. As for Europe they`re in the shop!

THE ORIGINAL HERBSAINT – THE WAY IT USED TO BE

herbsaint-bottle

“French in name, French in origin, and French in its sophisticated appeal, Legendre Herbsaint is a drink distinctly European in character.”

Herbsaint advert from 1930`s

The Sazerac Company`s new recreation of the original Herbsaint complete with a gorgeous vintage label was a very pleasant thing to try out, it has that little bite and sharpness yet its more soft on the anise than the regular Herbsaint, its herbacious and very complex. Its very approachable and perfect for those classic cocktails it was used for like the Sazerac, Cocktail a la Louisiane, Herbsaint Suissesse and Herbsaint Frappe and so on. I find it even nice to sip on its own.

Absinthe was banned in 1912 and the Herbsaint was made to substitute it in the year 1934 by a New Orleans pharmacist named J.M. Legendre who secretly produced it in his home during prohibition. It wasn`t called Herbsaint at first – it was called “Legendre Absinthe” which wasn`t a name that pleased the federal government and so the name was changed. It didn`t even contain any wormwood.

Launched as Herbsaint it was marketed as  – “Drink Herbsaint Wherever Absinthe Is Called For” – Herbe Sainte is the French/Creole name for wormwood (literally “sacred herb”)

In 1949 the Herbsaint was sold to the Sazerac company and the formula was changed to a lower proof (90) and heavy on the star anise. Luckily now the Sazerac Company has decided to launch a Herbsaint made with the old formula and even with a replica of the vintage label. Its right in time as the interest for the old formula Herbsaint is rising.

This is a great vintage style Herbsaint and it really is ”the spirit of New Orleans,” and the spirit of the by-gone era of “old France of Louisiana”. Its surprisingly tasty and i for one always wants it to have a place in my bar.

Herbsaint Original is 100 proof and is available in 750ml bottles.The 90 proof Herbsaint also in 750ml bottles will also be continued to be sold by the Sazerac company. But i wonder if not the original 100 proof will be more popular..

Here are a few classical Herbsaint cocktails including(again) the awesome Sazerac which stand a good chance of being the cocktail no1 of 2010, at least among many of the cocktail bloggers.

COCKTAIL A LA LOUISIANE

herbsaint-cocktail-a-la-louisiane

Combine in a mixing glass:

3/4 ounce rye whiskey
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Benedictine
3 to 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
3 to 4 dashes absinthe or a substitute (Herbsaint, Pernod, Ricard, or other pastis)

Fill glass with cracked ice and stir for 20-30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a cherry.

And here are some more:

THE ORLEANIAN

1 tsp simple syrup
3 dashes Herbsaint
2 oz Rye Whiskey

Twist a piece of lemon peel on top. Pour into a glass of
cracked ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

HERBSAINT FRAPPE

1 tsp simple syrup
2 oz Herbsaint
2 oz water or seltzer

Shake vigorously until well frosted, strain off
the liquid—remove ice and pour drink back into the frosted glass.

This old recipe calls for shaking but this drink may preferably be stirred with cracked ice in the glass until frosted, then the liquid is strained into another chilled glass, the ice removed from the frosted glass and the liquid poured back again.

HERBSAINT SUISSESSE

And the last one, i choose to use a recipe for Absinthe Suissesse from Gumbpages and switch the absinthe for Herbsaint.

1-1/2 ounces Herbsaint Original
1/2 ounce orgeat
White of 1 egg (or 2 tablespoons pasteurized egg white product)
1 ounce half-and-half (or 1/2 ounce each whole milk and heavy cream)
4 ounces crushed ice

Combine ingredients in a blender, whizz for 5 seconds and pour into a chilled goblet or rocks glass.

Or this one:

1 oz Anisette
2 oz Herbsaint
1 eggwhite
Setltzer

In shaker half filled with cracked ice add 1 oz Anisette, 2 oz Herbsaint, 1 eggwhite and shake until well frosted and strain into a thin small glass, top up with seltzer and serve.

SAZERAC

1/2 teaspoon Herbsaint or Absinthe
1 teaspoon of simple syrup or 1 cube of sugar or 1 tsp of granulated sugar
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Optional: 1 dash Angostura, not tradition but some say it opens up the flavors.
2 ounces rye whiskey
Strip of lemon peel

Fill a 3-1/2 ounce Old Fashioned (rocks) glass with ice. Place the sugarcube in another glass and moisten it with water until it saturates and crush it or use simple syrup. Mix with whiskey and bitters, add ice and stir to chill.

Discard the ice from the first glass and add herbsaint or absinthe and coat the sides of the glass, then discard the excess (i like to leave a drop or two in the glass) Strain the whiskey into the glass and twist a lemon peel over the glass to express the oils, then rim the glass with it as well. Discard the peel, or if you like use it as garnish – but don`t drop the entire peel back in the glass, it would give too much citrus flavor.

These are all wonderful cocktails.

herbsaint-label