Chuck Taggart is a dedicated amateur cocktailian and radio host in Los Angeles. He publishes The Gumbo Pages.
Well, technically it’s Thursday the 17th, but Friday the 18th as this finally goes up but I happen to believe that it’s not actually tomorrow until you go to bed and wake up again, so therefore even though it’s really tomorrow it’s still today, as far as I’m concerned.
If it sounds as if I’m at a French Quarter bar at 2:02am, writing after I’ve been drinking (on and off) for 14 hours, well … you’d be right. It’s the thing to do, after all, when you’re in town for a cocktail convention and celebration. (We’re a bit behind the rest of the crowd, and I’m continually astonished by how everyone has time to blog while we’re drinking mindboggling amounts of cocktails and booze at this event …)
Wes and I arrived yesterday, on Tuesday that is, and almost immediately upon arriving got down to business. “Should we stop at the Carousel Bar for a Vieux Carré before we check in?” I wondered. Wes wisely demurred and suggested that maybe we should take care of the room and get settled first. Half an hour later, we headed to the Marigny to visit our good friends Michael and Louise and hang out with them at their stupendously fabulous home bar. Our imbibing begain with a Twentieth Century Cocktail and moved on to Gary Regan’s variation on the legendary Last Word, which is one of our favorites. That said, we’re beginning to think that his version is one we enjoy more — equal amounts of rye (instead of gin), green Chartreuse, lemon juice (instead of lime) and maraschino liqueur. Absolutely superb drink.
Sazeracs with dinner at Irene’s (food porn still to come when I’m not so sleepy), sleeping in until 10am today and heading to Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar for lunch … but not before a morning cocktail of an Absinthe Suissesse (with actual abisnthe), some of their lovely 25¢ Martinis (Gordon’s), some tasters of the Adelaide Swizzle and a creamly chocolatey drink before dessert, and a lovely pour of Hennessy XO along with dessert.
The Absinthe Suissese is a classic New Orleans breakfast cocktail, with a great balance of flavors, but we haven’t been able to have a real one for many years now. As we all now know, absinthe has been illegal in the U.S. until just within the last year, so this classic has been made (in New Orleans, at least) with New Orleans’ own pastis (or, as it’s often called, “absinthe substitute”), Herbsaint. We do love our Herbsaint, and for good reason — it’s not only our homegrown pastis, it’s got a great flavor, is less sweet than more famous pastis like Pernod and is nearly a third the price. An Absinthe Suissesse made with Herbsaint is a lovely thing indeed … but now we can have them with absinthe.The drink that Mike made for me at the Swizzle Stick featured one of the two most common absinthes on the American market at the moment, Lucid. It’s a great gateway absinthe, smooth and easy to drink, slightly toned down in the anise profile but with a nice balance of herbs behind it. In the coming year we’ll have a veritable explosion of abinsthes on the American market, and we’ll be having a lot of choice for our Absinthe Drips and all our other absinthe-bearing cocktails, incuding a great way to start your day — the Absinthe Suissesse.
You’ll find alternate recipes containing frightening things like crème de menthe. Avoid. This is the best recipe by far.
1-1/2 to 2 ounces absinthe (to taste)
1/2 ounce orgeat
1 egg white
1dash 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.
Later on we headed back to the Monteleone for the opening of Tales, and then to the cocktail bloggers’ reception, where we had Cachaça Shrubbs, to the Plymouth tasting room for Sloe Gin Fizzes, off to Cary Bonnecaze’s new Absinthe Museum on Royal for tastes of four absinthes (Lucid, Pernod, La Fée and the excellent Marteau), then to the Tales welcoming reception for Beefeater Gin cocktails (Gin Gin Mules, Martinis, Jasmines and some kind of punch that I’ll recall later once I’m awake and have my recipe cards handy). Dinner at Lüke was accompanied by an exceedingly rare Ojen Frappé, and then after Wes collapsed I snuck back to another late night tasting suite for Partida margaritas with St. Germain.
After that, before heading to bed I stopped at a little bar called Attiki, down the street from the hotel, met Kristoph the bartender, and made an unusual request — “My brother, I’ve been drinking for 14 hours, and odd as it might sound I’d really like something tall, cold and non-alcoholic.” He took very good care of me with engaging conversation and two pints of Coke.
Not a bad way to get started. I have a full day of seminars tomorrow, and as for now … it’s 3am and I need to get to bed.