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Jun 13, 201309:48 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Summer Drinks, Eats and Reads for Cocktail Lovers

lizerext, stock.xchng, 2007

If you are hearing a few more moans from locals right about now, it probably has nothing to do with the vagaries of local politics, the condition of our roadways or the perceived shortcomings of the Saints defense for the upcoming season.


It’s more likely a shared realization that summer is here. Big Time. Suddenly we are feeling for the first time this year the effects of 90 degree afternoon temperatures accompanied by 70 percent or higher humidity. People are crossing the street to get on the shady side. Entering the car, the fan knob on the air conditioning is at the highest setting with the temperature control at the lowest.


Our attention is also turned to the Gulf and the Atlantic just to see if anything is developing out there. Likely the folks living in Minnesota have no interest in the meteorological conditions off the western coast of Africa. We do. 


As we seek refuge in our air conditioned oases, then bitch about the Entergy bills when they start rolling in, there are other factors that can make this time of year not just bearable, but pleasurable.


Summer Drinks

Last week, my editor here, Haley Adams, a wonderful newcomer to New Orleans, wrote about the many culinary escapes available to us. Snowballs, of course. Daiquiris, ice cream treats and frozen yogurt.


In a thinly-veiled, and appreciated, attempt not to roll onto my turf, she for the most part glossed over the field of cool summertime alcohol-based beverages. Haley did indicate she was not a fan of daiquiris. I propose she has never had one made right.


Wayne Curtis, also now a New Orleanian, wrote a great volume about rum, the most important ingredient in a daiquiri, in his book And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the World in Ten Cocktails. The book is an entertaining summer read.


Wayne endorses the man, Ernest Hemingway, and his favorite drink, the Hemingway Daiquiri. Here's the recipe:


Hemingway Daiquiri

1.5 ounces  light rum

0.75 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

0.25 ounce sugar

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Immediately after you make the drink, start making another. (That last sentence is my idea.)


Moving along, for their May 2013 issue, the good people at Wine Enthusiast, have done the heavy lifting and provided us with excellent examples of summertime treats, easy to make and so easy to enjoy.  


Screaming Greenie
Recipe courtesy The Tippler, New York City

1 ounce Pernod absinthe
2 ounces Finlandia vodka
8 basil leaves
0.5 ounce lemon juice
1.75 ounces simple syrup
0.5 cup ice cubes

In a blender, combine all the ingredients except a single basil leaf and blend to a slushy consistency. Serve in a Champagne cocktail glass. Garnish with the lone basil leaf. Serves 1.


Frozen Ginger Julep
Recipe courtesy Alex Rein, Kelvin Natural Slush Co., New York City

4 ounces Bourbon
3 ounces fresh lemon juice
.25 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup spiced ginger syrup (recipe here)

8 cups ice cubes
4 mint sprigs

Combine all the ingredients except the mint sprigs in a blender and mix until smooth. Pour into stemmed or silver julep cups garnish each with a mint sprig. Serves 4.


Want something colder? Variations on a New Orleans theme:


Blackberry Moonshine Sno-Cone
Recipe courtesy Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, Atlanta

0.5 ounce moonshine (unaged whiskey)

0.5 ounce Absolut Berri Açai vodka
1 tablespoon simple syrup
2 tablespoons blackberry purée (put a handful of fresh blackberries in a mixer and purée for 5 seconds)
Blackberries and a mint leaf

Combine all the ingredients except the berries and mint in a cocktail shaker with ice, give it 2−3 gentle shakes and strain over shaved ice in a Sno-cone cup*. Top with blackberries and mint leaf. Serves 1.


Sidewinder Fang Tiki-Cone
Recipe courtesy Daniel Warrilow, general manager and bar director, Son of a Gun, Los Angeles

1 ounce Smith & Cross rum, or another Jamaican rum
1 ounce Atlantico Private Cask, or another molasses-based rum
1 ounce passion fruit purée
0.5 ounce lime juice
0.5 ounce orange juice
Lime peel curl

Combine all the ingredients except the lime curl in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake gently. Pour over crushed ice in a Sno-cone cup (or Martini glass). Garnish the glass with the lime peel curl. Serves 1.


Colder still? Boy, you are really hot!


Cantaloupe & Campari Ice Pops
Adapted with permission from People’s Pops, by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell and Joel Horowitz (Ten Speed Press)

1 cantaloupe (about 2 pounds), peeled and seeded
6 ounces simple syrup
2 ounces Campari

Cut the cantaloupe into large chunks and purée in a food processor. You should have about 2.25 cups of purée. Transfer to a bowl or a pitcher with a spout and stir in simple syrup until the mixture tastes quite sweet. Add the Campari a little bit at a time until you can detect its flavor. Pour the mixture into ice-pop molds, shot glasses or ice-cube trays, leaving a little bit of room at the top for expansion. Insert food-grade Popsicle sticks and freeze until solid, 4−5 hours. Unmold and serve. Serves 10.



Summer Read

What a brilliant idea! Take the lovers of one fermented beverage and explain to them what lovers of another fermented beverage seek and like.


A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Knowing and Enjoying Fine Wine by Jim Laughren works with two seemingly diametrically opposed ideas and finds common ground.


While beer is traditionally viewed as a thirst slaker, and wine as an accompaniment to dining, Laughren goes for the neutral ground and comes up with something fun. He may be forgiven for his attempts to equate international regional brewing styles with appellation-driven grape juice, but he is giving it a good go. And even if you are not necessarily an avid beer drinker or a wine lover, you will get some excellent knowledge out of this volume.


For wine lovers, it makes for a great refresher course on basic and advanced concepts. For beer drinkers, the vagaries of olfactory characteristics, clonal selection and their effect on the palate, and the “pretentious” rituals of extracting the cork and swirling the wine in particular glassware may remain just that: vague.   


He does devote two paragraphs to “legs,” and those kinds of statements put knowledgeable wine aficionados on notice that maybe all is not right in hops-land. Legs are an indicator of a wine’s viscosity, a not-important consideration, as well as alcohol, which can be read on the wine bottle label before ever examining the wine.


Other than some minor points, such as that one, I found the book really enjoyable and an attempt to lighten up the conversation, which I certainly applaud. Not certain if I am now ready for a cool Albariño or a frosty IPA. Maybe both.



Summer Dining

I told a friend of mine about the upcoming Fried Chicken and Champagne dinner at Coquette in the Garden District. He was stunned. “Do those things really go together?”


I think they do, but there is really only one way to find out.


On Tuesday, June 25, at Coquette, chef Michael Stoltzfus will prepare his fried chicken recipe in a classic, yet modern, Southern style. Accompanying the main treat will be Champagnes that you won’t have the opportunity to enjoy every day. Jean-Noel Haton Brut Classic NV, Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blanc NV, and J. Dumangin Fils Brut Rosé 1er Cru, Chigny Les Roses.


Dinner begins at 7 p.m., and the cost is $80 per person inclusive of tax and tip, which may be the most important fried chicken dinner you ever had, or maybe the cheapest Champagne dinner. Reservations can be made at (504) 265-0421.

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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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