It would be impossible to tell y’all about New Orleans without giving you a little bit of an insight into what and where to drink. New Orleanians hold the cocktail in very high regard and for good reason, whether it’s a Bloody Mary with breakfast or an Old Fashioned with lunch, there’s a cocktail for every hour. With that in mind the ‘Official cocktail of New Orleans’ and the very first American cocktail, is the Sazerac; Louisiana state senator Edwin R. Murray filed Senate Bill 6 giving the Sazerac this title in 2008. There’s no better place in town to sip on a Sazerac than at the Sazerac Bar in Roosevelt Hotel. Each drink is made using Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters (native to New Orleans), Angostura Bitters and Absinth (or Herbsaint). Yes, that’s right, once the bartender has muddled your rye and bitters together with the addition of a sugar cube, the chilled drink is poured into a stout old-fashioned glass coated with Absinth and garnished with a slice of lemon rind. The end product is closely related to your traditional Old Fashion but packs a not so subtle punch from the addition of Absinth to the mix. My kind of drink.
Another firm favourite is the Ramos Gin Fizz. New Orleans Fizz was created in 1888 by Henry Ramos and quickly became the toast of the town, literally. The Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel later bought the rights to the drink and deemed it the Ramos Gin Fizz, as it’s been called this ever since. Governor Huey P. Long famously enlisted a New Orleans bartender on a mission to teach the New York bar he frequented how to properly make the drink that it falsely claimed it could make so that he could enjoy his favorite cocktail while away on business. The decadent, floral, smooth as silk mixed drink can be found in many bars throughout New Orleans, most popular at Sazerac Bar and the Carousel Bar (featuring a functioning carousel and rotates a complete 360 degrees while you sit at the bar) located within the historic Hotel Monteleone. Ramos Gin Fizz gives the bartender a workout as he, or she, is required to shake the cocktail’s ingredients (Old Tom Gin, heavy cream, egg white, lemon and lime juice, sugar and orange flower water) until suitable frothy (or fizzy) before straining into a chilled rocks glass, topping with Club Soda and garnishing with a slice of orange.
Pimm’s Cup, served around town but ordered most frequently at Napoleon House is similar to the traditional tall Pimms we drink in Britain. Pimm’s, ginger ale and cucumber are muddled in a tall highball glass with ice. A refreshing drink best enjoyed in Napoleon House’s back courtyard, a quiet retreat from the everyday chaos of the French Quarter. Partner your Pimm’s Cup with one of the best muffulletta sandwiches in town, all components the same as sandwiches produced at Central Grocery (more on their muffulleta sandwiches in my complete New Orleans post to follow), except that Napoleon House serve theirs warm as opposed to chilled.
From cocktails to beers and New Orleans has no shortage of craft breweries that stop Budweiser and Coors from seizing a monopoly. The beer you’ll find at most, it not all bars around the city is Abita. Abita Brewery hails from the town of Abita Springs, just 40 miles outside of New Orleans on the north side of Lake Pontchatrain. Abita produce some great beers including Abita Amber (dark beer with caramel notes); Purple Haze (light pilsner with raspberries added at the end of the brewing process giving a purple tinge and subtle berry flavour); Jockamo (hop heavy IPA) and their limited edition summer offering of Lemon Wheat Beer. Another brewery with a small, but well thought out selection of beer is NOLA Brewery, producing NOLA Brown, NOLA Blonde and NOLA IPA. Oh, and if you’re wondering, NOLA stands for New Orleans Louisiana.
A staple for New Orleans residents is the daiquiri and nowhere does them stronger, larger and better than New Orleans Original Daiquiris. For ten dollars you can purchase a 44oz daiquiri with change to spare. Flavours range from Strawberry to Pina Colada, but the most popular are the strongest two flavours 190 Octaine and Crawgator (no idea what either flavour stands for but both contain a healthy amount of rum and bourbon). You’ll also notice at most Original Daiquiris a “Mardi Gras Mash”, a combination of the three strongest flavours on offer, and my default selection every time. All daiquiris are a strangely bright, luminous colour and taste of sugary goodness. Addictive, especially in the New Orleans baking heat, and you’ll most definitely experience a brain freeze from drinking too much too quickly, but it’s worth it. I should also mention on Mondays and Wednesday a larger will only set you back $5.70. Winning.
Lastly, a drink that should be celebrated but I’m afraid can’t be purchased is the infamous ‘Slush’. I’ll backtrack a little, we were fortunate enough to be residing in the same house as some lovely New Orleans locals who took us under their wing, fed us lavish cheese boards and cured meats, and drank wine with us until the early hours on more than a few occasions. Such bonds were formed that the day before we left New Orleans for a life back on the road we were thrown a leaving party. Much food was grilled on the barbecue and a variety of drinks were consumed, but the crowning glory of the day was the creation of the “Slush’ by our dear friend, who we’ll call Mrs Lynn. From asking Mrs Lynn I know that the slush was concocted using bourbon, Amaretto liquor, ginger ale, lemonade, orange juice and as assortment of other ingredients before being left in the deep freeze until frozen, well as frozen as any liquid can get that contains that much alcohol. For a perfect glass of slush the drinker must take a large wine glass, fill said glass with a few ladles of slush (being sure to get a 50/50 combination of frozen and unfrozen), and then top your slush with either chilled prosecco, white wine or a splash of Jack Daniels Honey, or all of the above. Sounds disgusting, yes I know, but trust me, upon one sip of this glorious nectar and you will be converted.
Thank you Miss Lynn, this blog post goes out to you.