Oh, where to begin…
New Orleans is a complex city. They love to flaunt their paradoxical ways in your face like a drag queen Lutheran pastor tickles his flock with a righteous feather boa. (I’ve not seen this happen, but with the incredibly large amount of Midwestern Lutheran youth that are flocking to Bourbon Street after dark this week, I reckon this scenario is likely)
As New Orleans tries to lick those wounds still evident from Katrina, there is an overwhelming sense of being among the people of the city. Sure, they’ve been beaten down and forgotten by the rest of the country, but there is no crisis of identity.
These people know who they are and are damn sure proud of it.
There is a hopeful spirit prevalent among the French Quarter, told with every nod and wink from the disheveled white-coated bartender at Arnaud’s to the naked Hustler dancer on Bourbon Street. It’s unlike any other city I’ve been to. New Orleans is at once defined and solidified by its teetering balance.
Warm regards from the church going seersucker set are blessed upon the droves of morning drunks, both happily baptized by the powdered sugar of Café Du Monde beignets covering their fingers and lips. A city of sin and redemption that flow together so effortlessly, one can stumble out the door of the Old Absinthe House and mistake the reverie for purgatory.
And I love it.
For the next few posts I’m going to bring you a little slice of my experience at Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans and all the wonderful people that made me feel honored to be a part of it all.
Today though, we’ll start with a bookend of sorts. No good story can be told of New Orleans without a Sazerac in front of you. A cocktail so good and endemic of New Orleans, that even the dive bars make a proper one.
I had my first true NO Sazerac in the aptly named Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel. It did not disappoint. A strong, refreshing reprieve from the muggy collar worn outside, the Sazerac is a spirit lifter. A bit sweet & a tad strong, it cuts through the humidity with ease. I’ve found it can lead to a pronounced drawl in its consistent users (of which I have found myself to become)
2 ½ oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey (but any Rye will do)
¾ oz Simple Syrup (1:1 ratio does just fine here)
3-4 dashes Peychauds Bitters
Absinthe rinsed glass (chill that glass first!)
Combine the Rye, Syrup and bitters over ice in a tumbler and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into your chilled Absinthe rinsed glass and break your twist on top. Sit back and let the heaviness of the day float on out Lake Pontchartrain…