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The Rue Royale Cocktail

Here’s my entry in the Monteleone Hotel’s cocktail competition — the hope is that this drink gets to be called “The Monteleone Cocktail” for good. As you may recall from previous posts over the past couple of weeks, the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans is hosting a cocktail contest for their new signature drink, in honor of the 60th anniversary of their legendary and venerable Carousel Bar. The competition will no doubt be as stiff as the drinks, so wish me luck!

While I wasn’t really using the hotel’s other signature drink, the Vieux Carré, as a jumping-off point, I did want to have rye as a base spirit. As it turned out, there’s a slight similarity between the drinks in some of the proportions, but this goes off in a different direction, with a balance of bitter and sweet and spicy and malty that Wes and I both really liked. Here’s hoping you like it too (not to mention the contest judges!).

The Monteleone Cocktail (candidate)

The Monteleone Cocktail
(Tentatively named pending cocktail contest results.)

Rue Royale
(Renamed, as another cocktail was chosen for the contest winner)

1 ounce Sazerac Rye (6 Year).
1 ounce Bols Genever.
1 ounce Dolin Vermouth Blanc.
1/2 ounce Averna.
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters.
1 dash Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6.
Orange peel.

Combine ingredients with cracked ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with the orange peel after giving it a mighty twist.

The rye is there to provide a solid foundation of whiskey and spice, and is there for New Orleans. I was fascinated by the combination of whiskey and genever, which the malty, whiskey-like characteristic of this genever in particular. (My original idea was to try this with Ransom Old Tom Gin, a new barrel-aged Old Tom co-developed by David Wondrich, which I tasted in Seattle and went mad for, but it’s not available yet.) I wanted an aromatized wine as a moderator, and the newly-imported Dolin Blanc is a fantastic product I’ve fallen completely in love with. It’s a sweet white vermouth, along the lines of a bianco from Cinzano or Martini & Rossi but with a really tremendous flavor, and with the sweetness held back a bit. The Averna is because I love amaro, because wanted a pleasantly bitter element which the Dolin helps balance well, and also to honor the Sicilian heritage of Signor Antonio Monteleone, the founder of the hotel. Peychaud’s for spice and for the city, and as I was trying out early incarnations and got close, we thought it needed one little extra bit of brightness, which the orange bitters provide.

Well, that’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

If it doesn’t win I’ll still keep making it, and it’ll just get renamed. Maybe I’ll call it the Antonio, after Signor Monteleone. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; I’d rather it be called the Monteleone.

UPDATE, 5/22/2009: Alas, another cocktail won the contest, but I think this drink is a keeper. It’s being renamed the “Rue Royale.” (Thanks to Wes for the name suggestion!) And congratulations to contest winner Brian Robinson of The Wormwood Society.


The Creole Julep: The Official Cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail ’09

The competition for this year’s official cocktail at Tales was to create an original julep, and the winner has just been announced. This year the honor goes to New Orleans bartender Maksym Pazuniak, formerly of Rambla Restaurant and now at Cure, the Crescent City’s newest (and perhaps finest) cocktailian bar.

For his entry Maks went for a flavor profile based on the city’s position as “the northernmost port of the Caribbean.” Max is a great guy and an excellent bartender, so if you’re going to Tales be sure to stop in at Rambla (a Spanish-Basque tapas restaurant that’s one of the hottest new restaurants in town), which is within walking distance of the Quarter, or at Cure, which is Uptown at Freret and Upperline.

Maksym PazuniakThe Creole Julep

The Creole Julep
(Created by Maksym Pazuniak, Cure, New Orleans)

2-1/4 ounces Cruzan Single Barrel Estate Rum.
1/2 ounce Clément Creole Shrubb.
1/4 ounce Captain Morgan 100.
2 dashes Fee Bros. Peach bitters.
2 dashes Angostura bitters.
8-10 mint leaves.
1 Demerara sugar cube.

Muddle sugar, Creole Shrubb and bitters until sugar is dissolved in a tall 10 ounce glass. Add mint and press to express oils. Add cracked ice. Add Cruzan and Captain Morgan 100 and stir until frost appears on outside of glass. Garnish with mint sprig.


The Accoutrement

Recapping my ’08 trip home to New Orleans for Christmas

The evening’s rounds began with a visit to the Swizzle Stick Bar at Café Adelaide to see our bartender friends Lu and Michael, and to sample the latest delights from their cocktail menu, one of the best in town. Louise began with an original by Chris Hannah of Arnaud’s French 75 Bar. He’s one of the best in town, and he’s been cranking out some amazing creations lately. The Swizzle redid their menu and now has a back page featuring drinks by friends of theirs, which is very cool. This is one of ‘em — get it here or go see Chris himself at Arnaud’s.

The Accoutrement
(by Chris Hannah, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, New Orleans)

2 ounces Calvados.
3/4 ounce Strega.
1/2 ounce Clément Créole Shrubb.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters.

Shake with ice for 10-12 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with brandied cherries in the glass or on a pick.


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.]


Absinthe Suissesse (and another fabulous dinner at Café Adelaide)

Things are a little different around Café Adelaide now — there’s a new chef in town. Danny Trace is off to Destin to take the Exec Chef gig at the new Commander’s Palace (and On the Rocks Bar!) that’l forthcoming, and now heading up the kitchen at Café Adelaide for the last few months has been Chris Lusk, among other things a former sous chef at Commander’s in the Garden District. He blew us away from the outset with the meal he served us during Jazzfest (which, um, I haven’t written about yet … but I’m getting to it!). You’ve undoubtedly heard me sing the praises of Café Adelaide enough — let’s get right to the food porn.

We began with an extended sojourn at the Swizzle Stick Bar, where as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago we started with a lovely morning cocktail, the Absinthe Suissesse:

Absinthe Suissesse

Absinthe Suissesse

1-1/2 to 2 ounces absinthe (to taste)
1/2 ounce orgeat
1 egg white
1 dash orange flower water (optional)
2 ounces heavy cream
1/2 cup crushed or cubed ice

Serve either shaken or blended; old traditional method is to shake vigorously for 15 seconds with crushed ice, or blend with cubed ice. Serve in an Old Fashioned glass.

In his classic tome Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to mix ‘em, Stanley Clisby Arthur gives an entirely different recipe for the Absinthe Suissesse. I’m far more used to the one above, which is what you’ll get if you order them just about anywhere in New Orleans. However, apparently if you ordered one in 1937 you were likely to get the following, which is … well, not one I’d care to drink, but certainly interesting!

Absinthe Suissesse
(Stanley Clisby Arthur 1937 version)

2 ounces absinthe or absinthe substitute (e.g., Herbsaint)
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces charged (sparkling) water
White of one egg
1/2 ounce white crème de menthe
Cherry garnish

Mix the sugar with the sparkling water, vermouth and absinthe. Add the egg white. Fill the glass with cracked ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a wine glass in which there is a cherry with crème de menthe poured over it.

This is strange indeed. I may have to try it one day; then again, I may not, as I am not a fan of crème de menthe in the least.

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