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Jul 29, 201510:57 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

A Sour Outlook

Krzysztof Kozerski, Getty Images, 2005

For most of us, Rites of Passage are highly anticipated milestones that define life's progressive ladder. These mile-markers on the highway of our life provide a gauge of how far we have gone – or not.

They likely include our First Communion, first kiss, obtaining a driver's license, graduation(s) from a meaningful institution of learning, first sexual experience, birth of a child or any of several dozen other happenings – both pleasant and depressing.

When it came to proving how grown-up we were, one Rite was having a real cocktail. Not just a beer, or sneaking whiskey from our parents' liquor cabinet, but being offered and saying "yes" to a real adult mixed drink – one that required preparation and shaking.

Oh boy, look at how sophisticated I have become. Why yes, thank you, I think I will have one of those little sausages on a toothpick.

For me, that first taste of this particular Rite of Passage was a whiskey sour. Even now, I am tempted to order one from time to time. I don't and I guess I fear of what will happen if I tamper with the irrefutable law of nature: you cannot go back.

Yet that classification of cocktail, the sour, has been reborn to public acclaim. Bars now feature the Sour, but instead of just whiskey as the prominent base spirit, there are wide ranges of spirits bringing their unique flavors to the project. Preceding the word “sour” in the title can be Brandy, Pisco, Gin, Midori, Rum, even Tequila, or even going by another name, such as Daiquiri or Lemon Drop.

You are likely way ahead of me on this, but the classification “sour” is defined as any cocktail that features a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener; which may include simple syrup, Triple Sec, grenadine, or a fruit juice such as pineapple. Sours are one of the oldest classifications of cocktails, likely being mixed in the early 1800’s and were well described in Jerry Thomas’ classic and groundbreaking volume, How to Mix Drinks – published 1862, one of the first cocktail how-to books.

Some of the drinks, which you regularly enjoy, are actually sours going by another name, like the Margarita, Sidecar, Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Kamikaze and Bramble, among other names. Some sours, like a classic Whiskey Sour and the Pisco Sour, use egg whites to provide a frothy and creamy texture. There is discussion about the danger of salmonella whenever an uncooked egg is included, but the likelihood of ingesting the bacteria is very, very small and the solution of citric acid and alcohol in the drink will mitigate or kill the small amount present, should any at all be in the egg.

Keep in mind that if you are going to add egg to the drink, shake the ingredients without ice first; as egg whites do not take well to mixing with ice. After shaking without ice, then add ice to the shaker after all the ingredients have meshed together, and shake again, straining the mixture before pouring into a proper glass. At this point the drink will be cool, rich and the egg-induced foam will float to the top.


Whiskey Sour 

(Adapted from Salvatore Calabrese, Classic Cocktails, with thanks to thekitchn.com)


  • 1 3/4 ounces bourbon (or rye whiskey)
  • 2/3 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 1 egg white (optional)


Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice and shake briskly. If you include an egg, shake ingredients first with no ice. Then add ice for second shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a Maraschino cherry. Also garnish with fresh orange slice.


Pisco Sour

(Allen Katz, liquor.com)


  • 2 oz  Macchu Pisco or Porton Pisco
  • 1 oz  Fresh lime juice
  • .5 oz  Simple syrup
  • 1 Fresh egg white
  • Several drops of Angostura Bitters


Add all the ingredients to a shaker and shake.
Then fill the shaker with ice and again shake vigorously.
Strain into a highball glass or Champagne flute.
Garnish with a lime wheel and 3 gentle drops of Angostura Bitters, which will settle in the foam of the cocktail.
Artistic touch: using a straw, swirl the bitters into a simple design.


New York Sour

(Allen Katz, liquor.com)


  • 2 oz   Rye whiskey or bourbon
  • 1 oz    Fresh Lemon juice
  • .75 oz Simple syrup
  • .5 oz   Red wine


Add all the ingredients except the wine to a shaker and fill with ice.

Shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

Slowly pour the wine over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the drink.



Amaretto Sour

(Jeffrey Morgenthaler, liquor.com)


  • 1.5 oz   Amaretto
  • .75 oz   Cask-proof bourbon
  • 1 oz      Fresh Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp     Rich simple syrup
  • .5 oz     Egg white, beaten


Add all ingredients to a shaker and dry shake to combine.

Add fresh ice to the shaker and shake again until chilled.

Strain over fresh ice into an Old Fashioned glass.

Garnish with lemon peel and brandied cherries, if desired.



Oh, the joy of a simple cocktail, well-made and balanced. It does not have to be any more complicated than this.






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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. 




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