Mar 15, 201205:30 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

A Common Cause for Celebration

Image Courtesy of Dijon Restaurant, New Orleans, 2012

The dilution of the actual and direct Old World heritage in the American population continues at a rapid rate more than 200 years after our forefathers declared independence from the tyranny and oversight of Great Britain.

For most of us, on the world stage, we truly are labeled Americans and for many others still joining our nation as citizens the beckoning of the “lamp beside the golden door” means their children will also enjoy that designation.

But we as individuals have never quite gotten over the fact that originally our ancestors were all from someplace else. Millions of dollars are spent on genealogy and investigations into the distant past to a point in time when some guy had his way with some girl and, through a series of continuing human dalliances, here we are.

Still the question for many Americans is who we are. We search to find from what royal bloodline we are descended, when the more likely case is what line of beggars and thieves (or at least common folk just trying to make their way through this life as best they could) do we resemble in thought and façade?

While curiosity is a fine human trait, I’ve always wondered about all the fuss. Seems to me that the answer to our roots is quite obvious.

We are all, back in the woodshed somewhere, Irish. You don’t have to spend a lot of money researching heritage when all you have to do is step out of doors on March 17 in New Orleans. A sea of green, and in many cases a complete abandonment of good sense, proves the point. Tell me I’m wrong.

New Orleans’ Irish gatherings are a lot like the same gatherings all over America, only more so. Every festival we have around here can best be described as “... only more so.” St. Paddy’s Day is not so different. Just completely off the charts.

Take the parades. Free-form affairs where the main parts of the parade, the floats, follow a specific route. But if you are in the Irish Channel and Uptown on Saturday, March 17, you will see guys who are members of the club walking in tails. You will see them everywhere. Sometimes even along the parade route.

The floats will be laden with cabbages, carrots, potatoes, beads and panties. The recipe for a great parade, and the ingredients for a fine Irish stew, sans the beef. The veggie portions of the Club’s largesse are rather bulky and hard. For this reason, windows along the parade route look like they have been prepped for a months-away hurricane season. Plywood boards, cut to size years ago, are erected across openings. The veggies bounce off the plywood when tossed from the floats and the shielded windows live to be seen another day. At least that’s the plan.

Green beer, and let me be real clear here, is strictly for amateurs. Luckily those folks quaffing the tinted suds don’t last too long after sunset, so the green beer does not flow into the night. The best that can be said for the icky green stuff is that, usually, it’s cheap.

The green is a food dye. It will dye whatever it touches. That’s what it is designed to do. It will dye your clothes. It will dye your fingers. It will dye the tablecloth. And it will dye your teeth. Only temporarily, of course, but green teeth I can do without, even for a short time.

For this day, and for many days, a grand choice of beverages is Irish whiskey. While Scotland has more than 90 distilleries, Ireland has only four, and these are located in one of three places on the island. Due to difficult economic conditions and also due to corporate takeovers and mergers, only three distilleries are operating today. Another distillery, Kilbeggan, began operations in 2007, but the products are not quite ready for market or are just trickling in.

The Old Bushmills Distillery Company in the north makes Bushmills Single Malts, Black Bush and Old Bushmills. New Midleton Distillery in the South makes Jameson’s, Powers, Paddy and Midleton. Then there’s Cooley Distillery on the east coast, makers of Michael Collins and Connemara.

Several of the Irish whiskeys mentioned are not exported.

One of the factors separating an Irish Whiskey from their Scottish or American counterparts is the law that demands any whiskey labeled "Irish Whiskey" be made in Ireland. Fair enough. Alcohol by volume must be less than 52 percent, although most are much lower, often around 40 percent. And the whiskey has to spend a minimum of three years in wooden barrels.

The legal requirement that whiskey from Ireland be triple distilled, not double as in Scotland, is the main point of differentiation as to why Irish whiskey is a smooth, quite approachable - and mixable - spirit.

So this St. Pat’s Day, get out and mingle with your fellow countrymen. Party like it really means something in the big picture. Dance in the streets with great abandon. Sing songs you don’t really know out loud. Catch a cabbage with your bare hands. Kiss a girl, or if you are a girl, let the guy kiss you.

And, above all, know that a green beer is never an Irish beer, like Guinness or Harp or Smithwick’s (pronounce it correctly, smid-icks). Those beers most certainly will not be tinted green.

Want something a bit different? Try this cocktail, created by Samantha Tepel, bar manager at the new bar and restaurant, Dijon, in the 1300 block of Annunciation, the old Fire! Restaurant.

Irish Eyes

1 1/2 oz Jameson's Irish Whiskey
1/4 oz green creme de menthe
4 oz half & half
1/2 oz mint-infused simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake.
Pour into a rocks glass over ice.
Garnish with whipped cream and fresh mint sprig.                                    

Reader Comments:
Mar 16, 2012 03:52 am
 Posted by  Susan Schrager

Mr. Mc Nally,

It is with Great honor and respect that brings me to Thank you for Not only your beautiful article on St. Paddy's Day...But I am Samantha Tepel's mother,proud y'now and in my time a hell of a mixologist. That sweet little Honey apple of mine fell real close from the tree and she is the best creation ever given to me and her proud Papa.

Continue your wonderful work!! Here's lookin atcha and a terrific St. Pat's day to you always.

With a Big Irish Bear Hug,
Susan C. Schrager (of former Tepel lineage)

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

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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 Happy Hour blogger for myneworleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, winetalknola.com; all in addition to his weekly hosting duties on "The Wine Show," a radio program entering its second decade of broadcasting in New Orleans. "The Wine Show with Tim McNally," is on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every Friday at 5 p.m.

Over the years, Tim has proved to be a master 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 came about many years ago from his 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.

The couple was instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major, well-regarded festival of its type both nationally and internationally. Tim and Brenda both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now more than 20 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, FL Wine Festival Competition, 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 in Auburn, Ala.

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.

You can reach Tim by email at timideas@bellsouth.net.

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