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Archive for the ‘New Orleans’ Category

By Pinky Gonzales

roffignac2Of course it is the week of Fat Tuesday and Lent, and the good city of New Orleans is on our minds and so are it’s drinks. LUPEC Boston’s column in this week’s Dig is on the Roffignac cocktail, a kind of elegant, no-frills, tasty highball. Its exact story is fuzzy, but its origins seem to go back to the early part of the 19th century, when cocktails were fledging. The drink is named after a French Revolution refugee-turned-progressive New Orleans Mayor and state Senator, Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac, who may have liked to drink ‘em. It’s a Cognac or Brandy, raspberry, and soda water concoction, and personally, makes me pine for summer. Not a bad Winter blues beater (take it from me!) The original used a now-extinct raspberry syrup called Red Hembarig. I don’t know what our best store-bought choice is today as there are a number of them but I made a fresh raspberry simple syrup and that was not only good enough for me it was delicious.

So as Mayor in the 1820s, Roffignac, perhaps more of an “Obama” of his day than say, a Bush (ouch it’s hard to type his name), introduced and implemented a fistful of forward-minded ideas to make the Crescent city what it is today. According to Ryan Mayer in Where Y’At magazine, “He seems to have been the first official in New Orleans to appreciate its dawning commercial importance, and set himself earnestly and laboriously to prepare the city for its coming greatness.” Cool. He paid great attention to keeping the streets clean, planted trees, paved the streets, spearheaded some early levee planning, and lit the lantern-carrying Quarter with streetlamps in 1821. Pittoresque, no?

The swell little tome, Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix Them by Stanley Clisby Arthur is a fun source for the recipe and a bit of history. It instructs:

untitled1“1 jigger whiskey

1 pony sirup

seltzer or soda water

raspberry sirup

Pour ito a highball glass the jigger of whiskey (or use Cognac, as in the original drink). Add the sirup, which may be raspberry, grenadine, or red Hembarig, the sweetening used in New Orleans a century ago [that would be 1837.] Add the soda water. Ice of course.

Cheers to progress, cheers to the swampy city.

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by Pink Lady

If you checked out this week’s LUPEC Boston column in the Weekly Dig you’re aware that creator James Pimm began to commercially produce his No. 1 Cup in 1851. The next century-plus saw the brand grow to include a total of six variations on the liqueur’s original theme – and a franchised chain of Pimm’s Oyster Houses. One can guess that the debut of each product was a sign of the times and indicative of en vogue spirits:

• In 1851 whisky-based Pimm’s No. 2 and cognac-based Pimm’s No. 3 were introduced, along with the premiere commercial version of Pimm’s No. 1
• Rum-based Pimm’s No. 4 came after the end of World War II
• Rye-based Pimm’s No. 5 and vodka-based Pimm’s No. 6 were born in the ‘60s

Pimm’s No. 2 – 5 were phased out in 1970s and around that time the oyster houses closed, too. Vodka-based No. 6 is allegedly available, if only in England, and a revamped version of brandy-based No. 3 was introduced in 2005 and dubbed the Pimm’s Winter Cup. The original Pimm’s No. 1 remains the easiest to find.

As a cocktail, the Pimm’s Cup has a home on each side of the Atlantic, both in Southern England and in New Orleans, coincidentally also in “the South”. The English-style quaff is made a little differently from the Napoleon House recipe we included in the Dig:

• First of all, the Pimm’s Cup is a high-class drink favored by Southern England’s upper crust. While New Orleans’ Napoleon House exudes an inimitable brand of faded-glory charm, it is also decidedly casual (see photos, right.)
• James Pimm poured his original in a small tankard, so if you’re a classicist, use a mug.
• “Lemonade” means lemon-lime soda in the King’s English, and British recipes are usually made with a U.K. version of Sprite or 7-Up, the exact likes of which may be tough to find here.
• Brits garnish their Pimm’s Cups extravagantly with fruits/herbs in season, such as borage, mint, orange, lemon, line, and strawberries. How common our lonely stateside cucumber must feel.

Either way you choose to enjoy your Pimm’s Cup is fine with us.

Tally ho, y’all – bottom’s up!



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With half of LUPEC Boston in NOLA for the Tales of the Cocktail festival this week, it only seemed right to raise a glass to the Sazerac, the city’s official cocktail. It’s not just a tag line you know: last month the Louisiana House of Representatives proclaimed the Sazerac New Orleans’ official cocktail in a 62-33 vote. (Did those 33 other legislators vote for the Ramos Gin Fizz?)

But you can’t write casually about the Sazerac. The history of the cocktail is complex and much debated, “so intricate and entangled in myth,” writes David Wondrich in Imbibe!, “it requires a monograph of its own.” Wondrich reached page sixteen of his Sazerac treatise before his editor made him stop, and if this historian-come-cocktail authority won’t try for encyclopedic in his coverage of Sazerac, neither will we. However, we can guide you to a few fun sources that sketch the lore of the Sazerac. Below are a few facets of the Sazerac myth which may or may not be true, but should absolutely be embellished to provide the most exciting story possible.

The Sazerac is the original cocktail. That’s likely false, as Wondrich argues rather compellingly in Imbibe!:

“There is in fact no written record of [the Sazerac] before the first decade of the twentieth century, which is perfectly understandable: When all is said and done, the Sazerac is merely a plain Whiskey (or Brandy)…Cocktail made with Peychaud’s bitters and finished with a dash of absinthe. A generation earlier, you could have ordered the same thing in any bar in America that served mixed drinks.”

As Wondrich’s research reveals, written record of that elusive noun, “cocktail” appears as early as 1803 in a tiny little newspaper produced in a tiny little town called Amherst, New Hampshire (which is coincidentally, where I grew up.) The debate goes on and on, but the nomenclature and the execution of such a drink with such a name likely predate Peychaud’s home tippling.

The Sazerac was originally served in an egg cup. On The Gumbo Pages, Chuck Taggart provides an excellent overview of the history of the Sazerac. Here we learn that Creole apothecary Antoine Amadie Peychaud moved to NOLA in the early 1800s, set up shop in the French Quarter, and began selling his signature tincture to “relieve the ails of all his clients.” After hours Peychaud mixed that magic tincture with a little cognac, water, and sugar for his friends. He served the drink in the large end of an egg cup — a coquetier en Francais — and the improper American pronunciation of this term led to the eventual appellation “cocktail”. In that version of the myth, the Sazerac is thus the original cocktail, Peychaud its father, and New Orleans its cradle. It’s as likely as landing a dinner meeting with the Easter bunny, but a good tale nonetheless.

The Sazerac became the Sazerac at the Sazerac Coffee House on Royal Street. Sewell Taylor christened the “Sazerac Cocktail” as the signature drink of his Sazerac Coffee House on Exchange alley in 1853 . The drink was to be made only with Sazerac de Forge et Fils brandy, a popular brand of cognac of which he was the sole importer. Or was it John Schiller who opened the Sazerac Coffee House in 1859, and christened the Sazerac Cocktail its signature drink to be made with Sazerac brand cognac, for which he was the sole importer?

In any case, it was at the Sazerac Coffee House that an innovative barkeep introduced the step of rinsing a glass with absinthe, and it was here, under new owner Thomas H. Handy (or was it John Handy, as cited in The Craft of the Cocktail?) that the principal spirit was changed from cognac to rye whiskey, circa 1870. Reasons for that switch are clear, at least: the phylloxera epidemic in France made cognac hard to come by…or was it simply that the American palate favored rye? Maybe it was a little of both.

Sazerac de Forge et Fils perished in the 1880s, but as one brand dies, another is born: a decade later the Sazerac bar had grown into a Sazerac company who began to bottle and sell the rye-based version of the drink. That same company sells a six-year-old Sazerac brand rye today, as well as many other spirits.

Oh, what a tangled web history becomes when its scribes hit the bottlet! The beauty of these modern times is that all of these ingredients (save the Sazerac de Forge et Fils cognac) are available today — event absinthe! We suggest experimenting with the ingredients, ratios, and recipes you like the best, and matching it to your favorite foggy detailed story while mixing one up to impress your friends. Here are a few variations to get you started.

Exhibit A: Original(ish) Sazerac
from
Imbibe! by David Wondrich

This recipe is the first one in print for the whiskey-based version. Reprinted in David Wonderich’s Imbibe!, it was first published by William Boothby as the late Tom Handy’s recipe in an undated supplement to THE WORLD’S DRINKS AND HOW TO MIX THEM:

Frappe [chill] an old-fashioned flat bar-glass; then take a mixing glass and muddle half a cube of sugar with a little water; add some ice, a jigger of good whiskey, two dashes of Peychaud bitters, and a piece of twisted lemon peel; stir well until cold, then throw the ice out of the bar-glass, dash several drops of Absinthe into the same, and rinse well with the Absinthe. Now strain the Cocktail into frozen glass, and serve with ice water on the side.

A free copy of the LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF COCKTAILS goes to the first reader to try this with a good cognac and an egg cup and report back with pictures!

Exhibit B: King Cocktail’s Sazerac Cocktail
from The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

Dale DeGroff’s version calls for a little bit of everything. The plot thickens…
Splash of Ricard or Herbsaint
1 oz. VS cognac
1 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
lemon peel for garnish

Chill one rocks glass while preparing the drink in another. Splash the Ricard into another glass and swirl it, then pour it out. Add the cognac, rye, simple syrup, and the two kinds of bitters. Stir with ice cubes to chill. Strain into the chilled rocks glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Exhibit C: NOLA Gals Weigh In
from In the Land of Cocktails by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan

This modern recipe calls for both Peychaud’s & Angostura bitters in uneven ratios, Herbsaint, the local pastis that served as absinthe’s understudy during the ban, and shaking, not stirring, the ingredients. Makes 1 cocktail.
1 tablespoon Herbsaint
1.5 ounces rye whiskey, preferably Old Overholt or Sazerac rye
.5 teaspoon simple syrup
4 to 5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lemon twist with the white pith removed, for garnish

Pour the Herbsaint into a rocks glass and swirl to coat the inside. Discard any excess Herbsaint. Fill the glass with ice to chill. Combine the rye, simple syrup and Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Cover and shake vigorously. Discard the ice from the glass and strain the shaker mixture into the glass. Rub the rim of the glass with the lemon twist, add to the drink and serve immediately. Enjoy your Sazerac, and Happy Tales to you!

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The ladies of LUPEC Boston are gearing up for our annual excursion to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. For five days we will be learning about everything from Shochu to sensory perception. And for five nights we will be eating, drinking and dancing at our favorite haunts. Sounds like something real close to heaven. So to get us in the mood let’s pour out a tasty, low alcohol cocktail from one of NOLA’s finest restaurants, Herbsaint.

HALF SINNER, HALF SAINT
2 oz French Vermouth
2 oz Dry Vermouth
5 oz Herbsaint
lemon twist
In a rocks glass combine the vermouths over ice. Float the Herbsaint. Garnish with the lemon twist.

Cheers!

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Today the streets of New Orleans are flooded with revelers for the culmination of Carnival, Mardi Gras. The city ‘s population has doubled as tourists have flooded in to scurry for beads and doubloons thrown from floats as krewes snake through the city. We, the ladies of LUPEC, would like to raise our glasses to the Krewe of Muses, the only all female krewe.

Formed in 2000, the Krewe of Muses has over 1100 members. The Krewe was created to celebrate the nine muses, the Greek goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences. The daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, they are believed to inspire artists, especially poets, philosophers, and musicians.

Each year the Krewe of Muses selects one of the nine muses for the season. The Krewe then selects an honorary muse, a woman who embodies the spirit of that muse by having made a significant contribution to New Orleans in the area that muse represents. This year the Krewe celebrated Polymnia, the muse of sacred song, and honored Marva Wright, Louisiana’s Blues Queen.

On January 31, the Krewe of Muses presented a 26 float procession entitled Muses Night Fever. Sporting their famous hand-deocrated glitter shoes, the ladies discoed their way through the garden district pleasing the crowd with unique throws, including Rubik’s Cube beads and disco balls.

Let us raise our glasses to the Krewe of Muses!

New Orleans
1.5 oz Bourbon
1 dash Orange Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
.25 oz Anisette
.25 oz Pastis
Sugar to taste
Stir ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist

Cheers!

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It’s that time of year when one of our favorite cities becomes a hot bed of fun! All over New Orleans tourists are swarming, costumes are being donned and krewes are lining up as Mardi Gras arrives! In honor of this annual celebration we want to introduce you to one of our favorite NOLA broads and a cause dear to her heart that will be instrumental in keeping the sounds of New Orleans alive.

Last summer during my annual New Orleans pilgrimage I had the pleasure of meeting Elisa Speranza. A native Bostonian, Elisa fell in love with NOLA during her annual trips to Jazz Fest. She describes the city as “not like anyplace else on earth.” Approximately five and a half years ago she made the move and relocated.

For the last seven years Elisa has worked for CH2M Hill, a full-service engineering, consulting, construction and operations company. Working in both the governmental and industrial sectors, CH2M Hill handles everything from transportation and infrastructure projects to the construction of power generation facilities to disaster relief. Elisa, as a Vice President in the Water Business Group, is head of the management consulting team and does work for municipal water/wastewater facilities domestically and abroad.

Elisa is dedicated to community service both locally and globally. She serves as Vice President of Water for People, a non-profit organization that facilitates water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in developing countries and is active with Save the Wetlands and the Arabi Wrecking Krewe.

The Arabi Wrecking Krewe, Inc is a not for profit organization dedicated to preserving the music and culture of New Orleans. The Krewe is assisting musicians with all post-Katrina needs in order that they can return to New Orleans. Currently they are raising funds to build Al “Carnival Time” Johnson a new home.

Al “Carnival Time” Johnson penned one of New Orleans most popular anthems. “Carnival Time” became synonymous with Mardi Gras and the spirit of NOLA. Unfortunately, for the first thirty years of it’s existence, Al received no royalties for his famous hit. After Katrina destroyed his home in the Lower Ninth Ward, Al left for Houston. The Arabi Wrecking Krewe, realizing the importance of music in the history and soul of New Orleans, is raising funds to build a new home for Al in the Musician’s Village.

So during this Carnival we raise our glasses and hopefully some funds. Here’s to you Elisa and Al!

Vieux Carre
1 oz Rye
1 oz Brandy
1 oz Italian Vermouth
1 tsp Benedictine
2 dashes Peychaud Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Cheers!

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It’s that time of year when one of our favorite cities becomes a hot bed of fun! All over New Orleans tourists are swarming, costumes are being donned and krewes are lining up as Mardi Gras arrives! In honor of this annual celebration we want to introduce you to one of our favorite NOLA broads and a cause dear to her heart that will be instrumental in keeping the sounds of New Orleans alive.

Last summer during my annual New Orleans pilgrimage I had the pleasure of meeting Elisa Speranza. A native Bostonian, Elisa fell in love with NOLA during her annual trips to Jazz Fest. She describes the city as “not like anyplace else on earth.” Approximately five and a half years ago she made the move and relocated.

For the last seven years Elisa has worked for CH2M Hill, a full-service engineering, consulting, construction and operations company. Working in both the governmental and industrial sectors, CH2M Hill handles everything from transportation and infrastructure projects to the construction of power generation facilities to disaster relief. Elisa, as a Vice President in the Water Business Group, is head of the management consulting team and does work for municipal water/wastewater facilities domestically and abroad.

Elisa is dedicated to community service both locally and globally. She serves as Vice President of Water for People, a non-profit organization that facilitates water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in developing countries and is active with Save the Wetlands and the Arabi Wrecking Krewe.

The Arabi Wrecking Krewe, Inc is a not for profit organization dedicated to preserving the music and culture of New Orleans. The Krewe is assisting musicians with all post-Katrina needs in order that they can return to New Orleans. Currently they are raising funds to build Al “Carnival Time” Johnson a new home.

Al “Carnival Time” Johnson penned one of New Orleans most popular anthems. “Carnival Time” became synonymous with Mardi Gras and the spirit of NOLA. Unfortunately, for the first thirty years of it’s existence, Al received no royalties for his famous hit. After Katrina destroyed his home in the Lower Ninth Ward, Al left for Houston. The Arabi Wrecking Krewe, realizing the importance of music in the history and soul of New Orleans, is raising funds to build a new home for Al in the Musician’s Village.

So during this Carnival we raise our glasses and hopefully some funds. Here’s to you Elisa and Al!

Vieux Carre
1 oz Rye
1 oz Brandy
1 oz Italian Vermouth
1 tsp Benedictine
2 dashes Peychaud Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Cheers!

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