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Hey, careful man, there’s a beverage here!

If you’ve wondered what to do with coffee liqueur other than put it in your coffee or defend the integrity of your White Russian as The Dude so memorably did, here’s another idea. In fact, you may get several tonight.

Yes folks, it’s another Thursday Drink Night, starting right now in that wretched hive of sum and villainy delightful chat room called The Mixoloseum Bar. Our sponsor this evening is Kahlúa coffee liqueur, who sponsored us last year with their limited edition holiday release Kahlúa Cream. From 4pm Pacific/7pm Eastern until midnight/3am various bartenders, cocktail nerds and assorted smartasses will gather to make original cocktails featuring Kahlúa, critique them (and quite likely, make rude remarks about one another’s mothers). You are more than welcome to join the fray.

Alas, I won’t be participating tonight, as tonight I’m still back home in New Orleans, getting ready to leave the Fair Grounds after the final performace of today’s Jazz and Heritage Festival (I think it’ll be Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, or else Bobby Lonero’s tribute to Louis Prima with Johnny Pennino and the New Orleans Express, or perhaps Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole) and then heading to dinner at Le Foret. And as I had to prepare this post several days in advance, before leaving for NOLA, I was far too lazy to come up with something original.

Better still is something from a couple of terrific bars.

My friend Damian Windsor made me a lovely cocktail at The Roger Room which I thought was one of his, but he told me it came from Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco. It features the somewhat unlikely combination of Bourbon, coffee liqueur (they use Tia Maria, but we’ll use Kahlúa tonight) and orange bitters. Y’know what? It works, really well. The orange plays off the chocolatey notes of the liqueur and gives it a desserty feel without making it overly sweet (one of the banes of cocktaildom, as far as I’m concerned). Lovely after dinner or any other time.

The Revolver Cocktail


2 ounces Bourbon whiskey.
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur (Tia Maria or Kahlúa).
2 dashes Fee’s orange bitters.
Orange peel.

Combine with ice in a mixing glass, stir for 30 seconds and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange peel after expressing the oil.


Sweet bitters! Angostura reappearing on shelves.

O frabjous day! Calooh! Callay!

Walking into Topline Wine and Spirits in Glendale today, I saw something I hadn’t seen in many months — bottles of Angostura Bitters on the shelf. And there was much rejoicing.

If you’re even the slightest bit of a cocktailian, you’ve noticed the Worldwide Shortage Of Angostura which started kicking in last fall. Rumors flew — the recession killed the company, they were going out of business, we’d never see Angostura again (which would be a horrendous blow to the world of cocktails).

Rachel Maddow, proving once again how she is made of awesome, is a dedicated cocktailian and regularly devotes a portion of her program to cocktails and cocktail issues (tip of the hat to my sister Melissa). She recently featured Angostura on her program, taught the Teeming Masses how to make Champagne Cocktails and Manhattans (I prefer a 2:1 Manhattan ratio myself, especially as I tend to use higher proof whiskey) and not quite so much Ango. To each his or her own tastes, however.

Rachel also had an extensive interview with a couple of nice ladies from Angostura Ltd. who flew in from Trinidad to answer questions about the situation. Here’s the whole segment from The Rachel Maddow Show:

So, the official PR line is … they ran out of bottles and couldn’t get any more from their supplier. Hm.

I’ve read a variety of other stories. According to this Guardian article, Angostura Ltd. (which has been around since 1824) was once owned by Bacardi but was sold in 1997:

The firm is [now] owned by CL Financial, a Caribbean conglomerate hit by a liquidity crisis, prompting an emergency bailout earlier this year by the government of Trinidad and Tobago. CL leveraged Angostura’s profits against a series of acquisitions including a deal to buy control of a Jamaican industrial company, Lascelles deMercado. It was reportedly left with a TT$600m (£57m/US$87.5m) hole in its balance sheet.

Not good.

Interestingly, the PR line seems to be that it was only the bottles, and that production never stopped. However, a representative from Angostura USA was quoted last year as saying that production had actually stopped in June, and it would take a while to resume; you can’t just flip a switch and suddenly make bitters appear.

Whatever the real reason, let us rejoice that Ango is finally back on our shelves. Shall we celebrate with an Old Fashioned?

“Treme” is coming

This Sunday HBO debuts their new series “Treme,” from “The Wire” creator David Simon. Filmed entirely in New Orleans and set three months after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood, it tells the story of life and recovery in the city through the eyes of musicans and cooks. I may never have been so excited about a TV show in my life. (Okay, “Battlestar Galactica” and “Caprica” notwithstanding, and the only other good New Orleans portrayal “Frank’s Place” from the ’80s.)

Let’s watch the “Making of Treme” featurette and some clips — this first trailer actually made my scalp tingle:

If this is good as I think it’ll be, it’ll wipe the stain of “The Big Easy” from onscreen portrayals of New Orleans culture — that movie had me almost physically transforming into Ignatius Reilly at the Prytania, standing up and shrieking, “What degenerate produced this abortion?!” They’ve got local actors and local writers working on it. They got John Boutté’s “Treme Song” as the show’s theme song (which I knew was an absolute must from the moment I heard about the project; either my thought beams went out into the ether, or those folks really know what they’re doing), which means a lot of national exposure for the best singer in the city. John Goodman’s character is partially based on the late, great Ashley Morris in his passionate railing against the injustice of the greatest engineering disaster in American history. They really seem to be doing it right.

That they’re even going be mentioning, plus actually depicting and portraying, the Mardi Gras Indian culture and doing it with respect and a fair amount of accuracy is astonishing. There was a great interview on NPR this morning with David Simon actor Clarke Peters, who portrays an Indian big chief named Albert Lambreaux, in which they amusingly recount how some Indian traditions are so secret and sacred that their local paid advisors from some of the Indian gangs would keep some things close: “Oh sorry, we can’t tell you that.”

We get a feature-length premiere this Sunday. You simply must tune in.


TDN Casa Noble Tequila: The Tlaquepaque Cocktail

I managed to make it to another Thursday Drink Night last week, in which cocktail nerds, a few bartenders and occasionally an honored guest such as a distiller converge in The Mixoloseum Bar chat room, discuss that week’s sponsoring spirit or theme, geek out and come up with some new drinks.

Our sponsor last week was Casa Noble Tequila, and we were lucky enough to have José “Pepe” Hermosillo, a founding partner of the distillery, joining us from Jalisco, Mexico (unfortunately, by the time I got home he was just logging off). The samples that were sent out were their blanco tequila, which they call “Crystal” — 100% agave, slow-cooked and only the hearts and cores are used in fermentation. I have yet to try any of their other varieties but I loved the Crystal. It had a rich, profound agave flavor, nicely vegetal and spicy, some black pepper and citrus rind. I don’t normally sip blanco tequila but I enjoyed sipping this one, and it occurs to me that this would make a pretty tasty Improved Tequila Cocktail (not that Jerry Thomas had tequila in the 1860s), which I’ll try next. (It’s also got a pretty bottle, so hush.)

I wanted to play up the vegetal and spice qualities in my original cocktail for the evening, and I was inspired by a terrific drink that Brian Summers of the Library Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood made for me back when he was at Bar Centro at The Bazaar by José Andres a year and a while ago called the Archangel. That was gin and Aperol with a little cucumber, which was my launching point. I thought cucumber and Aperol would work really well with this tequila.

The Aperol’s low alcohol content smooths out the spirit’s edges and gives a nice, gentle bitterness, and the orange flavor complements the tequila’s citrus notes. I wanted to bring that up a little bit more with the Créole Shrubb without making it too sweet. I also wanted to bump up the bitterness a tiny bit, so I used Cynar, hoping that the artichoke enzyme cynarin would help make the sweet elements taste a bit sweeter without adding more liqueur. It seemed to work pretty well, although it took a bit of tinkering. One barspoon wasn’t enough, two were too many and 1/4 ounce — a barspoon and a half — was just right. The cucumber adds another vegetal element, again gentle, and helps tie everything else together and make them play nicely. I’m really happy with this one, and I think it’d be a good aperitivo for a Mexican meal.

The name comes from a town in Jalisco where my old friend Luie was born. It was near Guadalajara, but the town’s own growth and Guadalajara’s massive growth caused it to be swallowed up by the greater Guadalajara metro area, and it’s now considered a neighborhood of Guadalajara. It’s from the Nahuatl language, sort of pronounced “tlah-kay-PAH-kay,” and it’s really fun to say. Even more fun to drink.



2 ounces Casa Noble Crystal tequila, or other blanco tequila
1 ounce Aperol
1/4 ounce Clément Créole Shrubb
1/4 ounce Cynar
2 slices cucumber, about 1/4″ thick, for muddling
2 thin slices cucumber for garnish

Muddle the cucumber slices in the spirits, add ice and shake 10-12 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with two thin cucumber slices.


Save the New Orleans Musicians Clinic!

Since 1998 the New Orleans Musicians Clinic has been the sole source of health care for more than 800 local musicians, all of whom work from gig to gig, almost none of whom can afford private health insurance, and therefore have no other health care options (thanks to the fact that the United States is the only industrialized country on the planet that does not offer some form of universal health care for its citizens). New Orleans’ musicians are her living treasures, and many of them would not be with us today (or would be in much poorer health) if not for the NOMC.

Unfortunately, the Clinic is in trouble. On August 1 of this year, their grant money will run out, removing 90% of the clinic’s budget. Benefits are being thrown left and right, but it’s not going to be enough. Let’s hear from some of the musicians themselves about the importance of the Clinic, and what its loss will entail:

Here’s what you can do to help:

Buy the NOMC’s benefit CD (via download), Get You A Healin’, featuring Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, the funky Meters, Guardians of the Flame, Blue Lu Barker and many more.


If you’re on NOLA and there’s a benefit happening, get a ticket and go.

Spread the word. Send your friends to www.savetheclinic.org, which contains the above video and support links.

Help keep our beloved musicians alive and healthy!