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Jun 20, 201309:18 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Seasonally Sweet Cocktails, Plus a Wine Event

We all have different tolerances for certain spices and flavorings. Surely around here you know someone who puts hot sauce on everything except a Snickers Bar. Or maybe you know someone who even does that. Would not surprise me.


Then there are the folks who add salt and pepper to every dish before they even taste it. Or ladle spoonfuls of sugar into their tea or coffee. I can more understand this since you pretty much know what tea or coffee is like when it is served, and you know what you like, so getting to the “happy point” is easy.


Cocktails are a bit more problematic. Any mixologist worth his/her muddler will tell you that balance is key to a well-crafted cocktail. And then off they go, slapdash adding six or seven ingredients, without the benefit of measuring, putting in tinctures and liqueurs, along with rum, tossing it all in a shaker, then serving it to you with a rimming of sugar or salt.


Balance?? Are you kidding me? Nothing could be further from the actual experience. You are either puckering from sweetness or sour, after plowing through a veritable field of greenery stuck into the liquid, and not knowing whether to add the lime garnish or just suck on it for a more pleasant citrus flavor. Not to mention you just paid $14 for a glass that is 70 percent ice.


Okay, not all bar folks do such things, thankfully, but enough do to make ordering a cocktail sometimes a very dicey experience.


One of the surest ways to get a sweet drink, if those are your desires (and please note I am making no judgments one way or the other. You’re welcome), doing a main-line to sugar ingestion, is to order a cocktail that contains fresh fruit. We are fortunate this time of year to be blessed with so many. Strawberries, peaches, watermelon and cantaloupe are just a few of the precious beauties at their peak right now which can be paired with distilled spirits.


But here’s the warning shot across your bow: many spirits and additives, particularly rum and sweet liqueurs, are sugar-based. If you keep adding sugar-based spirits on top of fruit, you are going to end up with something quite, well, sweet. When you request a drink made with fresh fruit, pull back on other sugar-based ingredients, or offset the sugar flavors with citrus flavors.


That advice may seem unnecessary, but you would be surprised how many people who really love sugar take a sip of something truly beautiful only to pull back and cough out a “I don’t think I like it” response. Pretty colors in a drink are almost always a sign of sugars. Fresh fruit is appealing for the same reason, sugars.


Before you get the idea that I am anti-sugar, which I am not most certainly, however I am against drinks that are not balanced. Anything where one or two ingredients are out of whack, even when it comes to alcohol or citrus, is not going to be a good drink. Why else do we get involved with such intricate construction of a cocktail if it’s not going to be good (read: in balance)? 


To test your adherence to the theory of balance, below are several recipes for cocktails that use as a base that sweet summertime treat, watermelon. By tasting the ingredients in each drink, and altering the quantities to suit your preferences, which you may not even know, you can hit upon those flavors that make you smile at the final version.


Watermelon Gin Fizz

Serves 4  Courtesy: Eating Well, 2012

5 cups diced watermelon, seeds removed

6 cups London Gin

8 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 1/3 cups ginger ale

Lime wedges to garnish

Freeze 1 cup of watermelon for use as garnish. Puree remaining 1 cups of watermelon. Strain, then pour equal amounts into 4 glasses. Top each glass with 1½ ounces of gin, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1/3 cup ginger ale. Stir. Add frozen watermelon wedge into drink and lime wedge on glass rim.


 Watermelon-Basil Bramble Cocktail

Serves 1   Courtesy: A Spicy Perspective, 2012

2 ounces London Gin

1 ounce fresh lime juice

½ to 1 ounce simple syrup, to taste

2 chunks watermelon

2 chopped basil leaves

Pinch of salt

Cut the watermelon into 1 1/2 inch chunks. Place the watermelon, basil and salt in a cocktail shaker. Muddle until well smashed and soupy. Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup. Fill with ice, place the lid on the shaker and shake well, 30 seconds or so. Pour into a glass and garnish with extra watermelon and basil.


While we are on the subject of drink recipes, let’s send out a hearty CONGRATULATIONS to Jeanette Condon, manager, Allegro Bistro, and Scot Mattox, Iris Restaurant, two talented New Orleanians just announced as finalists in the Disaronno Mixing Star mixologist competition.


They now move on to the next level of competition to be held at the upcoming Tales of the Cocktail, July 17-21, to compete for a trip to Venice, Italy during the Venice Film Festival. These two talents should have a good chance to head to Venice since the final judging will take place in their home town.


Jeanette created the drink, Gypsy Rose Lee, inspired by the movie, Gypsy.


Gypsy Rose Lee

1 ounce Disaronno

1 ounce Cranberry Juice

1 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

3 ounces Prosecco

Put all in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake. Spray the glass with rose water. Strain the shaker into the glass and top with Prosecco. Garnish with a rose petal.



Scot created Q’s Negroni, a tribute to the James Bond films.


Q’s Negroni

1.5 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin

.75 ounce Disaronno

.75 ounce Campari

1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Orange peel garnish

Stir ingredients in a mixing glass. Strain onto fresh ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish. 


A Summer Wine Event Not To Be Missed

"Summer in Provence" is coming up on Saturday, June 29, at The Shops at Canal Place. Presented by the Gulf Coast Chapter of the French American Chamber of Commerce, there will be lots of food, wine, live music and a silent auction. Should be a good time. Visit the website for more info.


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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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