New Orleans Cocktail of the Day: Bywater

I could have used a big drink right around the time I found out my bank had failed, but I only saw the news right before I went to bed. (Come to think of it, a big shot of Cognac would not have been untoward, but I just went to bed instead.) Fortunately we had had a lovely drink last night, and a New Orleans original by Arnaud’s French 75 bartender Chris Hannah, who served this to Paul Clarke during Tales and gave him the recipe.

This kind of imagination, creativity and willingness to make needed ingredients from scratch is what makes Chris one of the very best bartenders in the city. This is also my kind of drink — bitter and herbal! But that’s not the main flavor profile, only part of a more complex whole, with the tiki-spiced sweetness of the falernum and the lovely warm vanilla-sugar-toast of the rum as the base spirit. The name also can’t be beat — it comes from the New Orleans neighborhood in the Ninth Ward where my mom and uncles grew up, where my grandparents had their neighborhood corner grocery, and where I spent a lot of time as a kid.

The Bywater Cocktail
(Created by Chris Hannah, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, New Orleans)

1-3/4 ounces Cruzan Estate Diamond Rum, 5 years old (or Cruzan Single Barrel).
3/4 ounce Amer Boudreau (or Torani Amer).
1/2 ounce green Chartreuse.
1/2 ounce falernum.

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Those are Chris’ recommendations for the rum, but any aged, smooth rum would probably work. I would imagine that the new reformulation of Torani Amer would work well too.

Although we did enjoy it the version I made was not quite there — I have a good supply of homemade Amer Boudreau, New Orleans 3 year old dark rum sat in for the Cruzan (all I had Cruzan-wise was our house pouring rum, the Cruzan 2 year) but at the time I made this I had yet to make a batch of my own falernum. I flipped a coin between John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum and Fee Brothers Falernum syrup, and it came up tails. While the Fee’s works well in tropical drinks it was too sweet for this drink, and threw the balance off. (We drank it anyway; even though it was unbalanced I do try not to let good booze go to waste, and it was almost there.) Paul’s absolutely right that the drink needs the acid of the lime juice from the homemade falernum for balance.

[UPDATE: This drink would work really well with Taylor’s Falernum, but it’s quite spectacular with homemade.]