ORIGINAL NEW ORLEANS COCKTAILS pt5 – Peychauds & Sazerac

peychauds

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.

sazerac-close

NEW ORLEANS COCKTAILS pt4 – THE MINT JULEP

mint-julep-2

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:

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

sazeracs4

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.

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.

ORIGINAL NEW ORLEANS COCKTAILS pt2 – The Hurricane Cocktail

hurricane

Famous like few others – the Hurricane cocktail is said to have been invented in the 1940`s at Pat O`Brien`s bar who simply needed a new cocktail to get rid of surplus rums when whiskey was scarce during and after World War II, but was originally very different from what they serve now — it was rum (half light, half dark), passion fruit juice and lime (2:1:1) They served it in a glass that was shaped like a hurricane lamp and so the drink got its name.

During the prohibition of the 1930s the bar was known as “Mr. O’Brien’s Club Tipperary” and a password was required to get inside of the establishment. Its since then one of the most popular drinks in the french quarter, especially among the tourists.

The extremely sweet and red Hurricane you get at Pat O`Brien`s today is not what once was served and what you get when mixing it up with all natural ingredients and it uses the powder-mix containing chemicals and artificial color.

Still i think its something you should try when in New Orleans – it´s one of those things you just have to do bec if you don`t you simply have n´t been to New Orleans….and it actually does have a charm of it´s own.

Also Pat `O Briens is a fun place to go to with it`s beautiful fire fountain in the courtyard – and don`t forget the piano bar with their legendary copper pianos and lively dueling piano players singing with the people through the night with that joyous New Orleans spirit floating through the air – it´s great fun!

That Hurricane you get at Pat O`Brien`s will also creep up on you and get you pretty drunk if you drink too many too fast as it contains plenty of rum so be careful.

As for the Hurricane-mix…the Hurricanes made with it is one kind but it´s not the original kind and many are they who believe this powder-mixed drink ís what makes a real Hurricane. Chuck over at Gumbopages also wrote about this in an excellent post.

hurricane-mix

Made with natural ingredients and homemade grenadine you get a very different and much nicer cocktail and if you play with the rums you can have some fun. I use a passionfruit juice and some passionfruit syrup as well. This drink with rum, lime, sugar, passionfruit juice and grenadine is actually close to the Daiquiri.

To this nothing but homemade grenadine will do for me – and as its so easy to make that i always have it. I often add a handful of dried hibiscus flowers to it as well – it gives a very tasty and fresh tropical tang. So equal parts water and sugar plus the seeds of two pomegranates (or have èm juiced) and if you will – a handful of hibiscus – bring to a boil and then take off the heat – add the fresh seeds of one half of the two pomegranates, mash it up a bit and leave to cool. But if you want to be really authentic – leave out the hibiscus flowers;-)

I made a batch today as i was out of grenadine and the pomegranates are in season now so there`s plenty of large ripe red pomegranates from Morocco out there and they taste so fresh! I need to buy 3 when i`m gonna use 2 because i eat up too many of those ruby-red sparkling seeds that not much would be left for my grenadine.

Let stand for a few hours so the flavor settles, then strain and bottle. Keep in the fridge, it lasts about a month or more. There`s no reason to buy commercial grenadine unless you can`t find fresh pomegranates. But as a basic rule with both drink-mixing and cooking, always use the best and freshest ingredients possible.

hurricanes

Here´s two recipes of the Hurricane, one is the basic one and the other the common recipe today.The Hurricane on the pictures is made with the common recipe.

Basic recipe:

1.5 oz light rum
1.5 oz dark rum
1 oz passionfruit juice or syrup
¾ oz lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Hurricane glass filled with ice.

Common recipe:

1.5 oz light rum
1.5 oz dark rum
1 oz orange juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 cup passion fruit juice, or 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
1 oz simple syrup
1 teaspoon grenadine
Stemmed cherries, and orange slice to garnish
Ice cubes – i prefer cracked or crushed ice here.

Half fill a Hurricane glass with crushed or cracked ice (or ice cubes) Shake all ingredients and strain into the glass. Fill up with more ice if needed and garnish with an orange slice and stemmed cherry.

Now i didn`t have any cherry today or an orange slice  so i used what was left of the pressed orange and a lime wedge instead.

On the famous pics of the cocktail blogging crew (well part of it) below from Tales -08 and-09 (sorry guys but these pics are awesome…) you can see the Hurricane cocktail as being served at Pat O`Briens and how deeply red the color is.

the-hurricane-gang

 

The fountain at Pat O`Brien`s.

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!