In the Mix
Our guide to great rum drinks
Marianna Massey photography assistant Scott Williams
Black Duck Bar
at Dickie Brennan’s Palace Café
605 Canal St.
The Black Duck speedboat, powered by twin Victory aircraft engines, was the fastest rum-running boat from Cuba to the East Coast of America, bringing rums during Prohibition to a thirsty nation. It was faster than any U.S. Coast Guard craft. Chases were inevitable, but catches weren’t happening. The Black Duck Bar on the second floor at Dickie Brennan’s Palace Café pays homage to the boat and its cargo. More than 110 rums are available for sipping or, in the hands of the expert cocktail team, in a wide variety of fine rum-based cocktails. Thankfully, America came to its senses, and now enjoying such delightful beverages is perfectly legal.
Foster the People
The yellow cocktail in the coupe glass
2 ounces Ron Matusalem Clasico Solera 10-year old Rum
.5 ounce Giffard Banane du Brésil
.5 ounce cane syrup
0.25 ounce fresh lemon juice
Shake and strain. Finish with 3-5 dashes of El Guapo Polynesian bitters
Cane and Table's Boss Colada
Cane and Table
1113 Decatur St.
Never before has Tiki mixed with historic New Orleans funk. If you were wondering, it works. And it works very well in a truly French Quarter way. One of the reasons the bar has been so well received is thanks to the guy “behind the stick,” Nick Detrich. This has to be one of the great bars in the world, assuming you like amazing cocktails along with a menu designed and served by those folks who founded Company Burger. The ambience here is so thick you could cut it with a knife, but why would you? Savor and soak it all in.
As created by Nick Detrich
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce La Favorite Blanc Rhum Agricole
.75 ounce fresh lemon juice
.5 ounce Passion Fruit syrup
.5 ounce Rothman & Winter Orchard Apry
5 drops Saline
10 drops Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit bitters
Garnish: Expressed orange twist
Build in a shaker tin, add Hoshi (1-inch square) cubes and shake 20 times. Fine strain over Hoshi ice in a chilled double old fashioned glass. Season sides of glass with the orange twist then mount (place the remains of the twist on the rim).
Swizzle Stick Bar
300 Poydras St.
Is there a cocktail bar better named anywhere? This most comfortable place is perfect for setting a tone of enjoying well-crafted cocktails in modern, delightful surroundings. It is well-lit, with floor-to-ceiling windows for a view of the outside world. Settle into the bar or at separate seating areas. The bar staff is only too happy to share their extensive knowledge while concocting the perfect drink, to your wishes or in accordance with tradition. Afterward, slip across the hall to Café Adelaide, an homage to the Brennan family’s sister and aunt, who would have loved this place.
The Cocktail St. Pierre
As made by Benton Bourgeois, Café Adelaide and The Swizzle Stick Bar
1.5 ounces Clement Rhum Agricole (6 year)
.5 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
.75 ounce Pineapple Shrub*
.5 ounce Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
8 drops Bittermens Tiki Bitters
Garnish: Lime twist
Add all ingredients to an iced shaker tin, shake and double strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Remove the skin from 3 pineapples and cut into half-inch cubes. Weigh the pineapple, add an equal amount of white sugar and stir to coat the pineapple chunks. Cover and refrigerate for 3 days, stirring the mixture once a day. After the mixture has macerated, purée using an immersion or upright blender and strain through a fine sieve. This will yield approximately 2 liters of pineapple syrup, depending on the size of the pineapples. Add 25 percent of the yield (.5 liter) Apple cider vinegar. Whisk together and bottle.
Cure's Little Boots
4905 Freret St.
From those wonderful folks who initiated the rebirth of Freret Street after Katrina, Cure is a New York-style cocktail bar, but the designation and attribution are denied by its owners. It is, they insist, a New Orleans cocktail bar that just happens to have a New York look. Whatever, it’s very good and quite solid in its presentation and creation of rum-based craft cocktails.
As created by Ryan Gannon at Cure
1.5 ounces Pampero Rum (Venezuela)
.75 ounce Cocchi Americano, aperitivo
.75 ounce Lacuesta vermouth
21 drops Jamaica No. 2 bitters
Stir all ingredients together. Place in coupe-style glass. Express a lemon peel into the cocktail, then discard
in the International House Hotel
221 Camp St.
If cerebral is what you’re seeking, this has to be the place. Loa is a concept in the Voudou religion indicating friendly and divine spirits that serve as the communicators between the celestial and us humans. The bar is candlelit by night, giving off a mystic vibe, completely at peace. The bar menu has been constructed by Alan Walter, a man of many talents and passions and a former Mixologist of the Year winner for New Orleans Magazine. His drink, The Navigator, is in a style he has noted as “Gulf Stream Tiki in a modern mode.”
By Alan Walter
1 ounce Plantation Overproof Rum
.75 ounce Diplomatico Anejo Rum
1 ounce Liqueur blend: Yellow Chartreuse, Elderflower and Pear, infused with Ancho chili peppers.
.5 ounce Tangerine juice
.25 ounce Fresh pineapple juice
Garnish: A pineapple wedge and a tangerine peel
Shake well and serve on the rocks with garnishes.
301 N. Peters St.
(upstairs from Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria)
Another great place in the French Quarter to “hide.” The décor is kitschy but in theme with Tiki, which makes it absolutely proper. The bar gang can make a grand drink, authentic and in complete balance. When you first walk in, you’re likely thinking the right thing to do is leave, but that’s an improper response. Stay – for hours.
(No, not that one.)
2 ounces of Goslings Rum
.75 ounce Lemon juice
.75 ounce Passion Fruit Syrup
335 Chartres St.
Paying tribute to the nickname and memory of the 40th Governor of Louisiana and U.S. Senator, the legendary Huey Long, this oasis in the heart of the French Quarter not only has sterling dining menu offerings, but the drinks from the wrap-around bar are amongst the finest in town – historically authentic and usually the most interesting iterations of the cocktail in question. New Orleans invented-and-created cocktails are a specialty. Of course, that means that rum is a key ingredient in a lot of what happens here.
The Cable Car
(An interesting name choice since New Orleans has none of these.)
2 ounces Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
.75 ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
.75 ounce Tony’s Lemon Sour Cinnamon sugar*
Combine ingredients in mixing glass. Shake and strain into cinnamon sugar rimmed coupe glass.
*Tony’s Lemon Sour Cinnamon Sugar
2 parts lemon juice combined with 2 parts powdered cinnamon
I part simple syrup and 1 part granulated sugar
The Rum House
3128 Magazine St.
Of course in New Orleans there has to be a Rum House. This is an excellent representation of the name. It offers a wide array of cocktails, all featuring rum, and an exceptional food menu, perfect for snacking or dining. The place is bright and cheerful; the staff young and eager. It offers limited bar space but plenty of comfortable table seating both inside and on the sidewalk, which is covered with an extended roof overhang. Fans and heaters mitigate the effects of the weather.
1 ½ ounces Cruzan Coconut Rum
1 ½ ounces Pusser’s Rum
4 ounces Pina Colada Mix
Splash of orange juice
Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a “cyclone” glass. Garnish with orange wedge and sprinkle fresh-ground nutmeg on the drink before serving.
Latitude 29's Rum Barrel
Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29
321 N. Peters St.
It is pretty unusual for a drinks and food book author to actually open a bar and restaurant. It is very brave, too. Jeff Beachbum Berry loves all things Tiki, is the author of six volumes outlining and explaining the history and essence of what Tiki culture is all about, has been named by Imbibe magazine “one of the 25 most influential cocktail personalities in the last century” and been touted by Esquire magazine as, “one of the instigators of the international cocktail revolution.” We should also note that Jeff and his wonderful lifemate and wife, Annene, moved to New Orleans a few years ago to open Latitude 29, and neither they nor their adopted city have been disappointed.
As created by Annene Berry
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce fresh orange juice, not from concentrate
1/2 ounce house Madagascar vanilla syrup*
2 ounces white Virgin Islands rum
Garnish: Edible purple orchid
Shake well with plenty of ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orchid.
*Vanilla-Infused Sugar Syrup
Flatten 2 Madagascar vanilla beans with the flat edge of a knife. Split beans in half lengthwise and with a knife blade scrape out the pulp. Place the split beans and the bean pulp into a pan with 1 cup water and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then cover and simmer on low heat for 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and, keeping it covered, let sit at least 2 hours before straining and bottling. Lasts one month, refrigerated.
Rum: Louisiana's Natural Spirit
Today it seems so odd. All that raw material and no one using it for a very important, and likely lucrative, outcome. And it went on for over 100 years.
Jesuit priests brought sugarcane to Louisiana in 1751 and planted the first stand of cane on what is Baronne Street today. It soon became one of the Territory of Louisiana’s most important agricultural resources, the primary core ingredient for making all sorts of edible and valuable products.
Not every farm land area on the planet can grow sugarcane. You need a particular kind of soil, lots of moisture, heat and farmers committed to caring for the long stalks, actually a grass, which yields only one crop each year. In many years, the rains and the winds, certainly hurricanes and heavy thunderstorms, beat down the stalks, which can grow 7 feet high or more. When the stalks are toppled for any reason, they’re no longer viable for processing. The journey into a wide array of sweet products is interrupted and stopped. And so in any year when nature decides to deal a harsh hand, the farmer has no income, only expenses.
From the Europeans settling Louisiana in the 1700s until the end of the Civil War, sugarcane was a key cash crop for making spirits. During the Civil War, the North, recognizing the economic importance of sugarcane to local economies, burned and destroyed cane refineries and rum distilleries. The distilleries never returned. The money then was in the new process of granulating the sweet sap of the cane stalk or in making molasses. Besides, great rums, which were more plentiful and less expensive to the consumer, were being made in the Caribbean.
The distillation of rum is an economic no-brainer since rum production is at the top of the sugarcane economic pyramid. However, not all sugarcane is suitable for rum production and, as you can well imagine, only the most expensive, highest grade of raw product makes fine rum.
Still, here was our state with literally tens of thousands of tons of sugarcane and no rum distillery for over 100 years. Then, in 1995, New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos and a few of his friends decided that the rum distillation drought had gone on long enough. They opened Celebration Distillation and began making Old New Orleans Rum, not near any cane fields, but rather in an industrial area of the New Orleans neighborhood of Gentilly. Not really logical, but they created some darn fine rum.
At almost the same time about 10 years ago, two other groups decided that the Bayou State could support more rum distilleries. A group of rum-loving friends from Thibodaux in Bayou Country put together Donner-Peltier Distillers in that town. They were soon followed by Louisiana Spirits, located on the Cajun Prairie in the small southwest Louisiana farming community of Lacassine, along Interstate 10.
Every one of those distilleries are doing well, enjoying good distribution regionally and winning awards in major international competitions. We are all glad they’re in operation now, even if it took over a century to get to this point.
All distilleries are open for tours and tastings; contact distillery directly for times and appointments.
Celebration Distillation: Old New Orleans Rum
2815 Frenchmen St.
Old New Orleans Crystal, Old New Orleans Amber, Old New Orleans Cajun Spice
1635 St. Patrick St.
Rougaroux Full Moon Dark Rum, Rougaroux 13 Pennies Praline Rum, Rougaroux Sugarshine Rum
Louisiana Spirits Distillery
20909 Frontage Road
Bayou Select Rum, Bayou Satsuma Rum, Bayou Silver Rum, Bayou Spiced Rum