ORIGINAL NEW ORLEANS COCKTAILS pt5 – Peychauds & Sazerac

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Most of the cocktail folks are well aquainted with and knows the history of Peychaud`s bitters but i think its interesting enough to write about and for those who doesn`t know here it is in a short version:

We must go back to the 1793 when Antoine Amedèe Peychaud, a creole of a french family who was an apothecary went to New Orleans, Louisiana while his sister went to Paris during the insurrection of Saint-Domingue. He brought with him to New Orleans his family recipe which was a secret formula for a tonic called bitters.

He opened a pharmacy shop with his sister – who he had brought over from Paris – on 437 Royal Street where today there`s an antique shop. He used to serve friends and other folks who needed “a little something” for their stomachs – some brandy made better with his bitters and of course his bitters, like other bitters –  were used to cure all kinds of illnesses.

His bitters soon became famous and were sold at the coffee houses in town. “Coffee houses” were where drinks were served – known today as bars;-)

He served his bitters spiked brandy, some water and sugar and according to the legend served it in a double-end egg cup called coquetier (ko-k-ta`y) which probably was the fore runner of the jigger – and as the legend has it – the name is the fore runner to the word “cocktail”  But really – the word “cocktail” is actually much older than that but opinions vary.

Peychauds bitters naturally leads us to the Sazerac.

This is one of the cocktails that i love the most. Born on Royal st in a bar that no longer is there – but in the sidewalk still remains lettered the word “SAZERAC” – this is where the entrance to the bar was. Originally it was made with a cognac brand called “Sazerac-Forge-et Fils” from Limoges, France.

This cognac and peychauds drink was drunk at the Sazerac Coffee House but the cognac was substituted with rye sometimes around 1870 because cognac was harder to find.  At the same time when Thomas Handy took over the Sazerac Coffee House it became the Sazerac House. This is also when the absinthe started to be used in this drink – until it was as you know – banned and replaced by herbsaint which now has come back in its original state.

In 1949 the bar moved to Roosevelt Hotel ( former Grunewald Hotel ) which in 1965 became the Fairmont Hotel – badly damaged and closed after Katrina and the federal flood in 2005  –  but eventually it was purchased to become a Waldorf Astoria hotel and got back its former name Roosevelt ( which was a name in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt) And in 2009 the Roosevelt New Orleans officially opened and there the Sazerac bar and restaurant is today.

Did you know that in prior to World War II the Sazerac bar only admitted men? Ladies were not allowed to drink at the bar – only on Mardi Gras Day. Luckily that changed in 1949 when the bar relocated to the Roosevelt Hotel and on opening day for both genders the women outnumbered the men.

The combination of rye (or why not equal parts rye and cognac) peychauds and absinthe or herbsaint is amazing and addictive – and it grows on you. The balance of flavors is just perfect.

Let´s have one, let`s have two..

SAZERAC

sazeracs

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 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.

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NEW ORLEANS COCKTAILS pt4 – THE MINT JULEP

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Sip and dream..

The mint julep isn`t original to New Orleans though, but imported from the southern states where it was developed. Nevertheless it has become a very important New Orleanian Cocktail.

Without doubt, a good Mint Julep is a true Southern pleasure. On the first saturday in may is the Kentucky Derby Day and julpes are served around the US and bourbon is the spirit used.

The Julep wasn`t originally invented in the US though – it was actually invented very far away – many centuries ago in Persia. It might be even older than that, i`ve read that it dates back even to A.D 1400.

Water and rose petals made a refreshingly scented Arabic drink called julab. This drink was later introduced to the countries around the Mèditerranian sea and the rose petals was replaced by mint which was a plant indigenous to the area. The drink changed its name to mint julep and became very popular in Europe. It was most commonly used in the eastern parts as a morning drink among the farmers.

Water and mint =  julep. How could that become an American Bourbon drink?

The way to the mint julep as we know it today is both long and colorful. Originating in Persia, drunk in various forms in Europe and without doubt developed in the US – the addition of American whiskey did dramatically change the recipe.

But the first julep drinks in America were probably not made with bourbon but rather rye or other available spirits of that time like rum. Its believed that the drinking of the julep started in the US somewhere on the southern and east coast around the 1700s.

The first reference of a non medical type of mint julep in 1833 states:  Put 4 to 5 unbruised mint stalks into a tumbler, on them place a lump of ice, add brandy water and sugar.This was a recipe identical to a drink called mint sling and it was the first time brandy was used in this drink which was referred to as a morning drink at the time.

Early juleps contained even fresh pineapple that was rubbed around the rim of the glass, then Claret or Madeira was added. The beverage were supposed to be of southern origin and the way of preparing seemed to have been varied among the states. There were also many different varietes of juleps made and were both stirred and shaken – look at these for example:

In 1846 fresh mint, equal parts brandy and rum, sugar and thinly plained ice was shaken in two tumblers. In 1852 another julep called cocoa-nut julep (!) was made with water from the young green coconuts that was poured into a glass goblet holding at least half a gallon and to this is added the coconut jelly…sweetened with sugar and Holland gin..aka Genever. There even appeared juleps garnished with strawberries in 1853…and in juleps have been used both bananas, raspberry juice and cucumbers.

In 1856 a gentleman in Louisiana placed side by side two large tumblers. In one he putted a spoonful of white crushed sugar. Then a slice of lemon and a slice of orange and then a few sprigs of fresh mint. Then a handful of crushed ice, a little water and finally a large glass measure of cognac.When this was done he lifted the glasses in each hand and poured from to another and back.

Then a fresh piece of a pineapple was cut and swept around the rim around the glass.The pineapple cleared the glass from sugar and pieces of mint and added a sweet fragrant aroma on the glass. This was called “The latest New Orleans touch 😉

I`m not sure when silver pitchers first were used but around 1901 it was spoken of as the only way to make a real julep. At around the same time the leaves of the mint were stripped off the stems one by one as the stems are bitter. The leaves were steeped in whiskey over night.

The cup was filled to the brim with ice and a small lump of sugar was mixed with as little water as possible. The leaves were strained off from the whiskey and the water and sugar mixture added. Now the drink was stirred and finally a sprig of mint added on top of the ice. Probably this was the first mint julep similar to the julep as we know it.

The good thing with using the julep cup is that it chills the drink and makes the frost appear faster and its also very nice to look at if you ask me.

BOURBON

The first uses of Bourbon came around in 1933 when cold spring water was first mixed with sugar. Then in a separate glass the mint was crushed within the glass with a spoon and then mint was discarded as a sacrifice. The glass was filled with cracked ice and bourbon poured in the glass. The mixture was left to cool for a while before sugared water was poured over it. No stirring was allowed. It was set to stand for a moment before finally fresh sprigs of mint were placed around the brim.

The Mint Julep became Churchill Down’s signature drink in 1938  when they started to serve the julep in sourvenir glasses for 75 cents a drink. Today Kentucky Derby serves more than 80,000 juleps over the two-day event.

I love the julep! its refreshing and its tasty. There are many different juleps..and many ways to prepare them and here´s one:

MINT JULEP

Bourbon, Water, Sugar (or simple syrup) and Mint – is all you need.

1 Tbsp. simple syrup (or use fine sugar and water)
2 oz. bourbon
6–7 fresh mint leaves (and a mint sprig for garnish)
Crushed ice

I can sure haz me some julep! and here`s the famous video again with Chris McMillan, showing you how to make a proper julep while reciting a wonderful poem – well worth watching:

MIXING THROUGH GROG LOG 8 – Blue Reef

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More blue drinks?

I thought it was enough with the two i made last time but Grog Log is calling for yet another one so i have to obey;-)

The Blue Reef is the second drink on the same page as Blue Hawaii in the Log. Its the Bum`s take on the Blue Hawaii where fresh lime juice replaces the pineapple juice and rum replaces vodka. Instead of sweet & sour there`s Galliano. I think that sounds quite promising. We`ve had the original Blue Hawaii with vodka and a twist with gin, now comes the turn for rum.

BLUE REEF

1.5 oz fresh lime juice

1.5 oz Blue Curacao

0.5 oz Galliano

2 oz light Puerto Rican rum

Shake well with ice cubes and strain into medium snifter filled with crushed ice.

Its like looking into a blue swimming pool..its not a boozy drink but the rum gives it flavor. So if you don`t like your drink too boozy then this is perfect.

I think we stay with rum today.

To twist this one i think we need another type of rum and i went for an agricole blanc which i figured would give the flavor a different dimension with its grassy notes.

The agricole i used is from Guyana and is called “La Belle Cabresse”. The Guyanese agricoles are a bit different from those from Martinique – its simply different terroir and the flavor of this one has a slight rawness to it that i like. For this drink any rhum agricole blanc (or vieux too) would do of course.

For sweetener i made a honey-mix (equal parts liquid honey and water) Instead of Galliano i used Navan which is a vanilla liqueur made with natural vanilla beans from Madagascar.

And then i replaced the blue curacao with green charteuse.

HONU HONU

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0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.75 oz green chartreuse

0.5 oz Navan

2 oz rhum agricole blanc

0.5-1 oz honey-mix

Shake it up with ice and serve in a glass with crushed ice.

I like this one better..the other one tastes too touristy i think. And now we leave the blue drinks for this time…and i would lie if i didn`t say i`m happy for that..;-) i think i`m more into brown drinks. I`m definetily more into boozier drinks.

DEAR CAMPARI

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The content in my glass is glistening like red rubies and i get thirsty by just looking at it. I know too well how completely satisfying a glass of Campari can be – on the rocks, with soda or orange juice.

From the land of bitter aperitifs and digestifs – Italy – we are blessed with a whole range of bitter aperifs and digestifs such as Campari, Aperol, Cynar, Ramazotti and Fernet Branca to name a few. These are all good for our digestion and has medical properties as well as wonderful flavors even though to many it`s an aquired taste. But give them a chance – you might get hooked.

These has been my companions for many years and my first accuintance with Campari was in right there in Italy where i had my first glass sitting at a restaurant in Napoli after we had a wonderful day in the beautiful island of Capri. My memories of that first glass are so (bitter) sweet.

I shall never forget the first chocking sip and then the next eventually leading to a long life love relationship with this wonderful apertif. Unusually maybe, i didn`t dislike it at all and came to love it very fast. Some people are just “bitter” types..

Italy is also the place where i also made my first experiences with vermouth, and therefore vermouth is to me also connected with that special atmosphere of Italy as well – which is a mèlange of tranquility and chaos – the lazy afternoon in the cooler shadows, the hot sun, the food, the fragrances…the chaotic traffic and the blue mediterranian sea.

Few things are to me so pleasant as a glass of Campari before a good meal and especially if that dinner was a pasta dinner with something like say – a lobster sauce. The typical and also the most tasty way to drink these bitter aperitifs and digestives is to keep it simple and enjoy them neat with ice and a slice of orange or lemon.

But they are also wonderful mixers for cocktails and there´s no limit to what you can do with them, especially Campari and Aperol are well suited for mixing. So my favorite above all – the Campari is what i used here for this post which really, is about playing with Campari.

And with it the very common but proved combination of fresh blood orange juice, (they just go hand in hand) – its hard to fail. I was going to stop there because nothing more is needed – but just for the heck of it i decided to rinse the glass with absinthe and for freshness, a sprinkle of lime juice and then something for the nose – fresh mint wrapped in lime peel.

This cocktail celebrates my sunny memories of Capri.

CAPRI

capri-sunset

2 oz Campari
2 oz fresh blood orange juice
sprinkle of lime
Absinthe rinse

Fill a rocks glass half full with large ice cubes, pour the ingredients and stir, add more ice and garnish with mint wrapped in lime peel and a slice of blood orange.

I discovered that the Campari almost overpowers the Absinthe – but its there even though quite subtle, so if you want more, just add a few extra drops.To me it was ok though as the emphasis is on the Campari, the Absinthe is just there to add a little subtle tingle, something i think Absinthe is very good for.

Another classic Campari drink that never a fails is the Campari and Soda, just a splash of each, ice  and lemon or orange wedge in the glass..unbeatable! Here is another take on this refreshing drink that uses fresh mint and crushed ice.

CAMPARI AND SODA WITH MINT

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Take 10 mint leaves and muddle with 1/4 oz simple syrup, add 2 oz campari and stir with ice to mix, then strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice and top up with Soda. Add a sprinkle of fresh lime and garnish with mint and a lime wedge.

Unfortunately the old Campari (the one with cochineal) is no more produced and what is available here is the new one. Even if the flavour difference maybe isn´t that dramatical its still there – very subtle but there`s a difference. R.I.P Old Campari.

I think they also have made some new artsy labels for Campari, making it more classy and modern in style – which i don`t particularly like, i like it the old style – not too fancy but more down to earth genuine, the way it always been.

Campari is one of my absolute favorite spirits. please don`t destroy it.

PLEASE HELP THE WETLANDS

This oil disaster is a nightmare that is slowly unfolding and nobody knows how the final outcome is going to be. But one thing is sure, the most beautiful wetlands in the world is about to be destroyed in front of our eyes and how its going to end up with the seafood industry and more i don`t even wanna think about.

The wetlands has been eroding piece by piece since long by man-made erosion causing the wetlands (which also are natural protective barriers against storm surges) about the size of a football plane to disappear every half hour. And added to that we now have this river of oil that just keeps gushing out in the gulf.

I don`t even like the word “oil-spill” which makes it sound small, while in reality its big enough to be seen from space.

There´s a new analysis from seafloor video indicating that nearly 70,000 barrels are gushing out every day – which is “the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez tanker every four days.” And where it is or where its going – nobody really knows. You can read about that here.

To lend a helping hand with the clean-up of the oil mess you can donate here.

A little is better than nothing, and many “a little” will become big.

Here´s a beautiful song –  “La grace du Ciel” performed by Southwest Louisiana singing group, Les Amies Louisianaises and some very beautiful photography.

MIXING THROUGH GROG LOG 7 – Blue Hawaii

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Its time to take a trip to Hawaii folks – with the 7th cocktail from Grog Log – The Blue Hawaii.

Its some romantic nostalgia here – in my mind i can hear the music from that Elvis movie and remember the incredible beautiful pirogue wedding scene pictured at Coco Palms Resort and even though the name of the movie and this drink only are remotely related, its still that romantic “Blue Hawaii” vibe this drink evokes.

I haven`t had a Blue Hawaii for decades..not that i`ve lived that long but still, that`s how it feels – so i guess its about time i have one now;-) if it wasn`t for the fact that its a part of Grog Log and this post i guess i wouldn`t have it..its just that kinda drink you don`t usually make at home but rather would have on the beach in Hawaii…so i must thank the Bum that i now can relive my sweet memories.

Yeah its a drink for the summer – but seriously…who living up north wouldn`t want to escape the long cold and dark winter even if its just with a tropical drink in hand? one can always dream…and a drink like this one helps. OK, the winter is over and its spring but the warm weather isn`t yet here.

This historical drink was invented by Harry Ye in 1957 – a legendary head bartender of the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, Hawaii. Bols asked him to future their blue curacao and so this drink was born. It has been a success since then and is now one of those that didn´t fade away.

The yellow pineapple juice makes the blue curacao more green actually…which i like, it looks like the greenish shallow waters of Bora Bora`s motus.

BLUE HAWAII

2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

1 oz sweet & sour ( 1:1 fresh lemon/lime juices and simple syrup)

0.75 oz Blue Curacao

0.5 tsp cream or half & half

1.5 oz vodka

Mix everything in a tall glass packed with crushed ice.

The book doesn`t mention any garnish, but the traditional garnish for a Blue Hawaii is a pineapple slice and a cherry.

Its a nice drink but in my opinion a bit plain and boring – tastes like liquid fruit bubblegum and i can`t help it..all the while i was drinking this one i kept thinking – i wonder how this drink will taste if i replace the (tasteless) vodka with a gin – like junipero? and switching the pineappple juice for grapefruit? – fresh yellow grapefruit – i had to do that..

I`m not a fan of vodka as i want to feel some flavor from the booze and so here`s a twist of it with the gin also upped a bit to 2 oz and the blue curacao taken down to 0.5 oz instead:

GREEN MOTU

green-motu

2 oz fresh yellow grapefruit juice

1 oz sweet & sour ( 1:1 fresh lemon/lime juices and simple syrup)

0.5 oz blue curacao

2 oz junipero gin

0.5 tsp cream

Mix everything in a tall glass packed with crushed ice.

Garnish with a tropical or a pineapple leaf.

I found this one much fresher due to the grapefruit juice which isn`t so sweet and more flavorful too with the gin. Next time i`m gonna mix up the Blue Reef which can be found at the same page in the  Log. But for now its enough with two blue drinks i think. Now…let`s put on that hula skirt..

This series called Mixing through Grog Log is inspired by my fellow boozeblogger Erik`s “Stomping through the Savoy” over at Underhill Lounge.

The Hotel Grunewald, Roosevelt and Fairmont – Over 100 Years of Cocktail History

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Let`s go to New Orleans…and let´s go back in time…

If you are interested in the history and folklore attached to the great New Orleans hotels that have gone by the names Grunewald, Roosevelt, Fairmont – and once again, the Roosevelt – then this is the seminar for you. From the Cave and Blue Room to the Sazerac Bar – this seminar will take you on a trip that breathes history starting somewhere in the 1893s up to present day.

There will also be a focus on the drinks – from the Sazerac, the Ramos Gin Fizz, and many other great cocktails like the Bayou Swizzle – to authentic artifacts, menus, authentic glasseware, advertisements, matchbooks, etc which will be displayed.

Here´s your chance to learn about the colorful history of these historic venues and their cocktails and much more. The session is moderated by Philip Greene and panelist is Chris McMillan – so you`re really in for a treat.

Seriously – don`t miss this!

Philip Greene is an attorney, writer and cocktail historian. As one of the founders of the Museum of the American Cocktail (based in New Orleans), he serves as treasurer and legal counsel, and is on the Board of Directors. Phil is an attorney in Washington, DC, serving as Trademark and Internet Counsel to the U.S. Marine Corps at the Pentagon.

Having deep ancestral roots in New Orleans,  Philip is well versed in its history and rich cocktail and culinary traditions. His Orleanian ancestors include Antoine Amedee Peychaud, the creator of Peychaud’s Bitters and the original Sazerac cocktail.

Chris McMillian Descends from four generations of bartenders and is native to Louisiana. Chris is now partnering with acclaimed chefs Allison Vines-Rushing and her husband Slade Rushing at the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel where McMillian entertains his guests with outstanding classic drinks and often treats them to a lesson in cocktail history as well.  Much of his work has been used to tell the story of the American Cocktail and its place in history.

When he is not conducting mixology seminars in New Orleans for guests and locals, he can be found at national and international events as a guest speaker. He is also one of the original founders of the Museum of the American Cocktail.

Moderator: Phillip Greene
Panelist: Chris McMillan

Sun, 25 July 2010
The Queen Anne Ballroom, Hotel Monteleone

Check out all the details and get your tickets on the Tales of the Cocktail`s website.