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Aug 20, 201409:55 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Good and Simple

Classic Cocktails Made Easier

One of the main ingredients in a cocktail is time. Yes, you want excellent ingredients and fresh citrus and the best liquor appropriate to the drink. 
 
But if everyone is sitting around enjoying only the taste of their own saliva as they await preparation of your masterpiece, no matter how great the drink will be, the fact that there is not a glass of something wonderful in everyone’s hands detracts from the moment and the ultimate prize, wet and adult in nature. 
 
Even under the best of conditions, the making of a cocktail takes 3 minutes and in some cases, more than 5. That does not seem like a long time, certainly not when compared to the reading of War and Peace, but when all minds are focused in anticipation of the delivery of a much-desired package, and all eyes are darting about with idle small talk filling the air, well, 5 minutes is a monumentally long time. 
 
The best a host/hostess can do is to get that first drink out of the prep area and into waiting fingers. Every drink thereafter has the luxury of time. But many drinks do not lend themselves to preparation well in advance, nor do you want your first concoction of the evening to be something that says, “Here, take this. We might be able to do something better later.”
 
You have the opportunity to make a statement and your own wishes will guide the outcome. If you are quite the perfectionist, then early preparation is your best path. Hours before the guests’ arrival, create that special blend of exotic ingredients that will be the much-praised, you hope, centerpiece of your masterpiece. Fresh fruit and citrus along with spices will keep for a very long time in the refrigerator. They likely will even change, maybe for the better, the day after you have prepared them. 
 
Hold off on the addition of bitters and the alcohol until just before you serve. In many cases, depending on the mood you wish to set, you may even consider better quality prepared mixes. Not for every drink, of course. Some Bloody Mary pre-mixes are quite good. Zing-Zang has become a local favorite, and Master of Mixes just released a Chef series of Bloody Mary bases. These include Classic, 5 Pepper, and Loaded, boasting “everything but the kitchen sink,” which sounds like a good ingredient to leave out. 
 
I’ve not had the opportunity to try it, but saw a Bloody Mary mix in the grocery store the other day, Louisiana Sisters, which is from right around here in New Orleans. There are a number of products from this enterprise, including a spicy olive oil ready to make the dirtiest martini of your life. 
 
When it comes to Margaritas, I am of quite the opposite mind to Bloody Marys. Mixes are not necessary, and they can be a hindrance to a good drink. Margaritas are the simplest of three-ingredient cocktails. I like equal parts fresh-squeezed limes, a good Silver-grade tequila, and Cointreau. You may not like yours so tart, although the Margarita is a citrus-centric cocktail by definition, and maybe you will back off the limes just a bit. But don’t bring the store mixes to the party. There is a lot of sugar in those bottles, and you will be getting all the sugar you need from the Cointreau, plus the bonus of a touch more alcohol. 
 
Remember the whole idea is for you, too, to be a part of the party. If you are using a loud blender, or have your back to the group as you dilly-dally at the sink, or are constantly sticking your head in the refrigerator, what’s the fun of that for you or your guests? 
 
The easier you make the preparation while your guests are licking their lips, the more pleasant what can be an awkward moment. Show off how clever you are with jaunty banter, not 8-ingredient cocktails. Have fun!
 

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

about

In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.

 

Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.

 

Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.

 

Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.

 

They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.

 

Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.

 

Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

 

Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.

 

It’s a good gig. 

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