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Mar 22, 201711:45 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Hop, Skip and Go Naked

Robert Owen-Wahl, Getty Images, 2006.

In this case, the cheap journalistic device of an entertaining headline is not borne out in the story in a way the reader anticipates.

I apologize and am truly remorseful for having resorted to such sophomoric tactics. Like the headline, that statement is not true either. Gosh, what’s gotten into me today?

The truth (finally) is that in our modern and “enlightened” times, the naming of cocktails has taken on as important a role as the creation of the drinks themselves. The headline, by the way, is the name of an actual cocktail.

Depending on the personality of the creator, or the type of drinking establishment in which the product was first concocted, good taste and tasting good are stretched to limits beyond what would normally be accepted by polite company.

Decorum precludes citing examples here of drink names that have sailors blushing, but since you are so worldly, you know exactly what I am referring to. While "Sex on the Beach" sounds like a delightful way to spend an afternoon, it is also an excellent use of vodka, cranberry juice and a few other ingredients.

The naming of cocktails has always been part of the fun of tossing together a few diverse ingredients, asking your friends if they like the drink, and then having a snappy response to the inevitable question, “What do you call it?”

But it was not always so “anything goes.”  A few staid examples of naming rights of which you may not be aware:


Sazerac – named for the prime ingredient, Cognac not Rye Whiskey, when the drink was created on Royal Street in New Orleans at The Merchants Exchange Coffee House, soon to become the Sazerac Coffee House, in the middle of the 19th century. The preferred Cognac brand was Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. The brand has since disappeared yet even before that, about 1870, the cocktail, thanks to a devastating grapevine disease that practically eradicated vine production in France, became based not on cognac but on rye whiskey, a product of which New Orleans, thanks to shipments coming down the Mississippi River from Kentucky, had a large supply. 



(as suggested by David Wondrich, Esquire Magazine)

  • Sugar Cube
  • 2 1/2 oz. rye whisky
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • absinthe
  • lemon peel
  • old-fashioned glass
  1. In an Old-Fashioned glass (not a mixing glass; it's part of the ritual), muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water. 
  2. Add several small ice cubes and the rye whiskey, Peychaud's bitters, and Angostura bitters.
  3. Stir well and strain into a second, chilled, Old-Fashioned glass in which you have rolled around a few drops of absinthe (the only substitute that really works is Herbsaint. Otherwise use Lucid Absinthe.) until its inside is thoroughly coated, pouring off the excess.
  4. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel. Some insist that this be squeezed over the drink and discarded.

French 75 – invented in Paris towards the end of World War I. The cocktail’s “kick” was said to be akin to the recoil of a 75mm gun used by the French during that war. There are a number of tales about where the drink was created or who did the creating. Seems there were several Allies involved, including the French, Americans and the English. This explains the ongoing discussion whether the original base spirit in the drink, besides the Champagne, is gin or cognac.


French 75

(as served at French 75 Bar in Arnaud’s Restaurant, New Orleans)

  • 1 1⁄4 oz. cognac (preferably Courvoisier VS)
  • 1⁄4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 oz. simple syrup
  • Champagne, chilled (preferably Moët & Chandon Imperial)
  • Lemon peel for garnish
  1. Combine cognac, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake and pour into a champagne flute.
  3. Top with champagne and garnish with a small piece of lemon peel.

Sidecar – another end of World War I era cocktail with cognac. The story is that an American army captain “commuted” to the war’s front lines and was continually seen at the Ritz Hotel, Place Vendome, in Paris with his favorite mode of transportation, an Army-issue motorcycle with a sidecar attached.



(recipe courtesy of Liquor.com)

  • Sugar
  • 1.5 oz VS or VSOP Cognac
  • .75 oz Cointreau
  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice

Garnish1 Orange peel


  1. Coat the rim of a cocktail glass with sugar and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.
  3. Shake, and strain into the prepared glass.
  4. Garnish with a piece of orange peel.

Gimlet – a cocktail not fully appreciated today but coming back into style. In the late 1800’s, the British Navy faced a challenge to stave off scurvy, a lethal disease caused by lack of Vitamin C aboard ships at sea for extended periods. Bringing citrus aboard the ships was a dicey proposition because during long voyages, the limes or lemons could not be kept in good condition. Rose’s Lime Cordial (juice) was created to answer this situation. But swallowing the product without additional ingredients proved unpalatable. Enter Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette, who made use of the sailors’ daily ration of gin and voila! necessity birthed invention. I have a crazy mental picture of a shipload of English hooligans/sailors, many conscripted into service after a life of crime and street gangs, sitting around each evening in quite civilized fashion on the ship’s decks enjoying a Gimlet cocktail. It’s the stuff of Monty Python.  


The Gimlet

(special thanks to drinksmixer.com and Chilled Magazine)

  1. Pour the gin and lime juice into a mixing glass half-filled with ice cubes.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the lime wedge.


As with all cocktails, liberties have been taken with the original recipe, such as increasing the amount of gin, substituting fresh lime juice for Rose’s Lime Juice, and the addition of simple syrup.




Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored, at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life," hosted by Tim every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Previously broadcast episodes are available for viewing at http://www.wlae.com/appetite-for-life/


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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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