The Herbsaint Cocktail

Herbsaint is not only New Orleans’ venerable (and inexpensive and damned tasty) pastis, or “absinthe substitute” as it’s often called, it’s also the name of one of the city’s finest restaurants, headed by Chef Donald Link, who co-owns the restaurant with Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona.

Herbsaint the liquor was a product of Marion Legendre’s liquor company for many years, appearing in 1933 as an absinthe substitute (“Herbsaint” being a play on words and a homonym of absinthe en français). Legendre was acquired by the Sazerac Company in 1948, who have been producing Herbsaint ever since.

The namesake restaurant has a pretty good cocktail list, and their eponymous house cocktail, based on Herbsaint liqueur, is mighty good too. Here’s how they make it:

The Herbsaint Cocktail
(House cocktail at Herbsaint Restaurant, New Orleans)

2 ounces Herbsaint.
1 teaspoon simple syrup.
4 dashes Angostura Bitters.
4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters.

Fill an Old Fashioned glass with cracked ice and
build with the above ingredients. Top with water
and stir. (You may substitute Pernod for the Herbsaint
if it’s unavailable.)

UPDATE, August 8, 2008:

This week I got an email from a fellow by the name of Jay Hendrickson, who introduced me to his wonderful website called New Orleans Absinthe History, concentrating on Legendre products, including Herbsaint and original Legendre Absinthe, and other New Orleans absinthiana. He’s also got what appears to be a stunning collection, including vintage bottles of 1930s- and 1940s-era Herbsaint. (Wow.)

Jay was kind enough to send me a scan from an Herbsaint recipe booklet from circa 1944 showing the Legendre/Sazerac Co. recipe for their own Herbsaint Cocktail recipe, slightly different but sounding no less yummy. (The entire booket is viewable and downloadable here.)


Herbsaint Cocktail

For the image-challenged:

The Herbsaint Cocktail
(Legendre/Sazerac Co. house version, circa 1944)

Fill a large glass three-quarters full of cracked ice.

One teaspoon of simple syrup.
Two ounces of Herbsaint.
One dash of Anisette.
Two dashes of Angostura Bitters.
Two ounces of carbonated water.

Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass.

Jay points out that the anisette used in this cocktail would have been Legendre’s own brand, no longer produced. I’d recommend Marie Brizard nowadays.

I’m gonna try my own adaptation of this, which in my head tastes rather like the Ojen Frappé you get at Lüke Restaurant in New Orleans, although less sweet and more complex.

The Herbsaint Cocktail No. 2
(Chuck’s adaptation, 2008)

2 ounces Herbsaint.
1 teaspoon simple syrup.
1 dash of Marie Brizard anisette.
4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters.
Chilled carbonated water.

Combine first four ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of cracked ice. Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with carbonated water.

Be sure to add Jay’s fascinating New Orleans Absinthe History to your RSS reader. I’m guessing it’s only gonna get better and better as we apparently prepare to add a new chapter to that history.

UPDATE, December 2009: The Sazerac Company have finally begun producing their “new” 100-proof Herbsaint. “New” is in quotes because although it may be new to most of us, it’s the original 1934 recipe for Herbsaint, which was changed in the 1970s. The proof was lowered to 90, and the fresh herbs were replaced by herb extracts.

I’ve tasted the newly released Herbsaint original, and it’s superb stuff. The quality of the Herbsaint Cocktail is about to skyrocket.

 

Cocktail of the Day: Straits Jacket

This is an original by Dr. Cocktail, adapted from the classic Singapore Sling recipe and using some of the same ingredients. However, it’s a straight-up cocktail rather than a long drink. Be sure to use kirschwasser and not a “cherry brandy” liqueur for this drink. Don’t use Cherry Heering, either.

Straits Jacket

1-1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce Bénédictine D.O.M.
3/4 ounce Kirschwasser (dry, clear cherry brandy)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

Shake with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Cocktail of the Day: Brandy Cobbler

I’ve been devouring Dale DeGroff’s book lately; it spent far too much time packed up in a box during the moving and unpacking ordeal. Besides helping me learn new things, it’s helping me learn old things too. For instance … cobblers! They were a class of drink unto themselves in the 19th Century, when “cocktail” meant one particular type of drink — whiskey or brandy, sugar, water and bitters. There were lots of types of drinks: daisy, flip, sangaree, smash, sling, etc. A cobbler (as served by Jerry Thomas in 1862) was some type of spirit or wine sweetened with sugar, shaken with seasonal fresh fruit, garnished with more fruit and served over ice. Dale has improved on the cobbler technique by muddling fresh fruit in the shaker with the drink ingredients, then decorating the drink with new, fresh fruit. The result is very, very refreshing.

You can make cobblers with just about anything: gin, whiskey, port, sherry, champagne, etc. Here’s the brandy version we had and enjoyed last night.

Brandy Cobbler

2 ounces brandy or Cognac (we use Hennessey V.S.O.P. for cocktails)
3/4 ounce raspberry syrup (such as Torani, Monin, etc.) or raspberry liqueur
2 wedges fresh pineapple (one without skin for muddling; one with skin for garnish)
2 wedges orange
2 wedges lemon
1 ounce water

Muddle the skinless pineapple wedge and one each orange and lemon wedges
in a shaker with the raspberry syrup or liqueur and the water, making sure you extract oil from the citrus peel as well as juice from the fruit. Add the brandy plus ice, then shake vigorously.

Strain into a large, double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed or cracked
ice. Garnish the drink with the remaining orange and lemon wedges and the
pineapple wedge.

The Paris Cocktail

Wes’ sisters came over on Saturday to see the new house, and since it was such a beautiful day cocktails on the veranda were de rigueur. I made a few from Dale DeGroff’s excellent book The Craft of the Cocktail, including Dale’s own creation The Milennium Cocktail, plus this excellent drink I tried more or less at random. It’s a creation of the legendary Colin Field, master bartender at the Hemingway Bar, in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. It’s most excellent.

The Paris Cocktail

1 ounce gin (French, of course; we used Citadelle)
1 ounce dry vermouth (French, bien sur; Noilly Prat Original)
1 ounce crème de cassis
Lemon peel

Combine the liquors in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass; flame the lemon peel
over the drink and garnish.

Cocktail of the Day: Francis the Mule

An original from the fertile mind of Dr. Cocktail, who showed me this recipe over Sazeracs at Arnaud’s Bar on Iberville Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Francis the Mule

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce cold strong coffee
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Page 90 of 97« First...102030...8889909192...Last »