The Angostura Sour: Kicking off an evening at Cure
I think I’ll now have a new routine every time I go back to New Orleans. That routine will be to head to the corner of Upperline and Freret every Sunday evening I’m in town, arriving a bit after 5pm, and spend the next several hours at Cure, which recently became one of my favorite bars in the city (and anywhere, for that matter). New Orleans has needed a place like this for a long, long time.
If you’ve been following along here you’ve seen a couple of posts about Cure, opened by Neal Bodenheimer (formerly of The Delachaise and Bar Tonique, its “ancestors,” if you will) earlier this year. As I didn’t go home for Jazzfest I didn’t get to make it to Cure until Tales. I’m torn between saying it was worth the wait (it was) and goddammit why couldn’t I get there sooner.
I had met Maksym Pazuniak, one of their bartenders, via my friend Mary when she was dining at Rambla last Christmas. That was Maks’ gig at the time, and she figured we might want to get to know each other. She was right, and two gigs later I finally got to sit at the bar again while Maks was behind the stick.
I should pause here to mention that Maks and another Cure bartender, Kirk Estopinal (a NOLA native but who had worked in NYC and at The Violet Hour in Chicago) have recently self-published a book called Rogue Cocktails, featuring a 40 mostly-original “outside the box” cocktail recipes and a few classics worth revisiting. [UPDATE: Unfortunately they had to pull their book after a cease-and-desist from the folks at Rogue Ale. Look for an expanded and renamed edition in the summer of 2010. Check their blog beta cocktails for further updates.]
In addition to a provocative manifesto for bartending, Kirk and Maks wanted to come up with a book that didn’t have the same recipes over and over again or one that required exotic produce and specially-made syrups and tinctures. They wanted a book for a bartender who works at a well-stocked bar that challenges them to think about some of their ingredients differently. The book got some nice coverage in da local papuh,
and you can order the book via their Rogue Cocktails website.
Their outside-the-box thinking is typified by their version of a drink found in Charles Baker’s Gentlemen’s Companion from the 1930s, a fizz in which the only base spirit is 90-proof Angostura bitters. Um … but we add bitters to cocktails by the dash. Aren’t they supposed to be “non-potable” by government definition? Supposedly, yes … but it seems they’re quite potable if you know how to handle them.
Here’s Kirk’s adaptation of that fizz, turned into a sour. It’s become very popular among our more daring bartenders, who seem to have had great success serving it to our more daring imbibers. Do give this a try — considering, as Kirk and Maks say in the book, that “it’s the cocktail equivalent of eating a tablespoon of salt,” I think you’ll find it much more pleasant than that, surprisingly so.
1-1/2 ounces Angostura bitters.
1 ounce simple syrup.
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice.
1 egg white.
Dry shake the egg white with the lime juice for half a minute. Add the bitters and syrup plus ice and shake hard. Strain into a cocktail coupe.
We served this to our friend Devin when he was visiting. He loved it, and couldn’t wait to go back home and try it out on our friend Chris, with whom he imbibes on many occasions. “Taste this!” he said, after making one for Chris and exhorting him to guess what was in it. “I incorrectly guessed Fernet Branca and nutmeg and then Gammel Dansk and saffron. It was really interesting.” It’s really good. Try one.
And just you wait. It gets better …