Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Jan 9, 201910:15 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Party On, NOLA!



Most places around the world have thrown in the towel. Christmas and New Year’s are now both in the rear-view mirror. But here, we did our best to give those two seasons their due, and now we go into a time at which we have had a lot of celebration practice. We have even doubled-down our well-deserved reputation as a town that knows how to throw a party during this calendar period.

Carnival is officially here, and this year, we have been blessed with a long season – right at two months to be exact. In that long period of time, we can do an amazing amount of celebration. And we will, without a doubt.

All of which means, we have some time to drink very well. If that’s not a siren call for champagne cocktails, I can’t imagine what would be. For my money, you can talk all you want about the “perfect mixer,” but it always comes down to champagne in my estimation.

The elegance that comes from a mixture of wine with bubbles, bitters, touch of fruit and a surprise or two is welcome and invited. Here are a couple of recipes that deserve the Carnival treatment, which means slowly appreciated with a lot of excitement alongside.

In all recipes, we recommend Champagne Brut. Any other sparkling wine (except for the last drink’s prosecco), or any other champagne sweetness level, will result in a sweeter drink than the recipe intends. And well note that the champagne is always the last ingredient added to the drink.

Special thanks to punch.


Dale deGroff’s Champagne Punch

  • 1 cup maraschino liqueur, preferably Luxardo
  • 2 cups Benedictine
  • 3 cups Cognac, VSOP or XO
  • 6 bottles Champagne, well chilled
  • 4 cups soda water
  • 1 pineapple, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 6 oranges, cut into six pieces each
  • 2 grapefruits, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 lemons, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Garnish: Orange slices, pineapple wedges


  1. Muddle the fruit and sugar with a cup of water.
  2. Pour the maraschino liqueur, Benedictine and Cognac over the crushed fruit and mix well.
  3. Cover and allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for several hours.
  4. Remove the punch from the refrigerator and stir.
  5. Strain the punch into a large punch bowl and add the chilled Champagne and club soda along with ice.
  6. Serve in wine glasses over ice and garnish with orange slices and pineapple wedges.

Hibiscus Punch Royale

Martin Cate, Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco
  • 18 ounces blended aged rum, preferably Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
  • 12 ounces hibiscus syrup (see below); or Jack From Brooklyn Sorel Liqueur
  • 4 ounces rich demerara simple syrup, (2:1, sugar: water)
  • 6 ounces lime juice
  • 24 ounces Champagne, to top
  • Garnish: hibiscus flowers in syrup, drained, lime wheels, mint sprigs
  1. Combine all ingredients and chill for two hours before serving.
  2. 20 minutes before serving, add chilled ingredients to punch bowl filled with cracked ice. Top with chilled Champagne and stir gently to combine.
  3. Garnish bowl with preserved wild hibiscus flowers resting on lime wheels, and mint sprigs.
  4. Ladle into cups to serve.


Hibiscus Syrup:

  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus blossoms 
  • 1 lemon peel 
  • 1 cup sugar 

To make hibiscus syrup, add water, hibiscus blossoms and lemon peel to a pot and bring to boil. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Turn off heat and allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 


For an individual serving of punch: 

  • 1 ½- ounces blended aged rum 
  • 1-ounce hibiscus syrup or Jack from Brooklyn Sorel Liqueur 
  • 1/3-ounce rich demerara simple syrup, (2:1, sugar: water) 
  • 1/2 lime juice 
  • 2-ounces Champagne, to top


Not paying attention to the bottle of spirits desired, the mixologist/owner at Milan’s Bar Basso picked up a bottle of prosecco instead of gin while making a Negroni. The resulting cocktail, about which no one complained, was named the Italian word for mistake.

Golden Spagliato

Naren Young, Dante, New York
  • 1-ounce Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano Rosso
  • 1-ounce Cinzano 1757 Rosso Vermouth
  • 1/4-ounce Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
  • 1 bar spoon edible gold flakes
  • Prosecco, to top
  • Garnish: orange wedge


  1. Add the Cappelletti, vermouth, Italicus and gold flakes to a small wine glass filled with ice.
  2. Top with prosecco, and garnish with an orange wedge.



All the drinks are festive, and all are easy to construct. If multiple drinks will be served or if you an encore serving will be appreciated, combine all ingredients beforehand, except the sparkling wine. Set the almost-made cocktails in refrigeration. When the drink is requested, simply add the wine, garnish, and serve. Enjoy!





Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails in New Orleans, every month in New Orleans Magazine.



Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


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; 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. 




Atom Feed Subscribe to the Happy Hour Feed »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags