Although I started mixing fancy cocktails at home long before heading to New Orleans (our copy of Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails is MESSED UP, y’all – splattered, stained, ripped, dog-eared) there’s no denying that the history of the cocktails created here cast a heady environment to take this love to the next level.
I arrived in New Orleans around the time the modern craft cocktail movement really kicked into gear. So not only did we have all the beautiful drinks associated with the city – Vieux Carre, Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, French 75 – but bartenders were flexing their muscles to not only do justice to these fine beverages, but also playing with flavors, ingredients, spirits, mixers, and bitters to create something unique.
I love cocktails because the preparation in creating a good one hits all the same buttons as a perfect dish or bite – balanced, exciting, delicious, and maybe even breathtaking.
My cocktail of choice when I first started drinking them was a classic Manhattan. Now I don’t usually get them anymore, since there are all sorts of other cocktails out there to try, but it’s one of my comfort cocktails, along with a good old fashioned or a Campari and soda.
Single malt scotch and I go way back – that’s definitely not a cocktail ingredient, but where I learned to appreciate spirits on their own. Now I enjoy tequila, gin, bourbon, and rum in a similar manner.
And let’s not forget Tales of the Cocktail – a week in July when the entire booze industry descends on New Orleans. It’s a crazy, sweaty mess – but I’ve definitely enjoyed the seminars, tastings, and parties I’ve been to.
In conclusion: three cheers for cocktails!