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Jul 25, 201808:05 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Unlikely Duets

The human tasting apparatus is a screwy thing. The result of tens of thousands of years of evolution, we all have reached a stage where there is no standardization. You would think after all that time, we, as a species, would have reached some consensus.

But no. We are as individualistic in our abilities to “taste” as we are in fingerprints. The whole mechanism is unique to each owner. My love of strong coffee cannot match your dislike for the beverage. I can only look at you and mutter, “You don’t know what you are missing.” Then again, it’s likely you really do.

Very short detour here: we humans can truly only discern five items with our mouth. Sweet, sour, bitter, savory (sometimes referred to as “umami”), and salt. Every other flavor you perceive is given to you through a complicated arrangement of odors and textures. The nose, in fact, is responsible for more than 85 percent of what you “taste.”

Okay, back to the discussion at hand. There are foods that go together very well. We seem to adore peanut butter and chocolate. Sugar and iced tea are favorites this time of year. How about hot dogs and mustard? And can you ever have French fries without salt?

There are also combinations which are unique to us individually. Elvis’ love for peanut butter and bananas as an example. Not bad, but not the first thing which springs to mind pleasing the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  All in all, the natural partners are too numerous to mention, and the individual combination favorites are off the charts in raw numbers.

Here are some combinations that on the surface do not appear to be good pairings, but don’t denigrate their ability to delight.

  • Salty Potato Chips and Champagne – Seems more like two completely separate classes of enjoyment more than not making a good match. Don’t sell this short. Delicious and perfect.
  • Watermelon and Vinegar – In a salad? It does not get better in the summer.
  • Watermelon and Tequila – While we are on the melon topic, let’s do another “something else” with everyone’s favorite summertime fruit.
  • Serrano Chiles and White Rum cocktail – Unexpected but try this:

Porch Crawler

  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 hot chile, such as Serrano, halved and seeded
  • Ice
  • 5 cherries, pitted, plus 1 cherry for garnish
  • 3 mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
  • 2 ounces white rum
  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the 5 pitted cherries, mint leaves and chile.
  2. Add ice and the rum, lemon juice and simple syrup; shake well.
  3. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass, stir in the club soda and garnish with a cherry and a mint sprig.

(thanks to Food & Wine)

  • Pineapple, sake, jalapeno – A cross-culture mash-up in a... wait for it... sangria. Whoa!!

Pineapple-Sake Sangria

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 1/2 cups pineapple juice
  • One 750-ml bottle dry filtered sake
  • Ice
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil with the sugar and jalapeño, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool completely, then strain the syrup; discard the jalapeño. 
  2. In a large pitcher, combine the jalapeño syrup, pineapple juice and sake and stir well.
  3. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
  4. Serve the sangria over ice in tumblers, garnished with pineapple and mint.

(Again, thanks to Food & Wine.)


The point, if there is a point, is that we should not discount unlikely couplings of items at least until we have tried them. We have the ability to both please and surprise ourselves, which is a lot more fun than making a nasty face. Most of the time.





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.



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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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