In a movie about enjoying adult beverages at an Olympic level, New Orleans would play the role of Athens. In this place there’s a passion for cocktails, a respect, that’s important and appreciated not just by local participants but by visitors as well. Our reputation on this topic has been earned and well established worldwide.
In New Orleans, visiting a public house often isn't another venture into what we know but rather a voyage of discovery. For the most part, we know what we like and how we think we like it, but within that framework, we are usually open to new exploits, particularly when those journeys are led by a competent guide.
To be a mixologist/bartender in New Orleans isn’t just a way station along the road to whatever life’s destination. A bad bartender in New Orleans, like a bad meal, just isn’t tolerated by patrons or management.
The professionals noted here, and the cocktails they’re anxious to share, might not be obvious but they’re most certainly the Gold Standard. Importantly, these suggestions aren’t whacky, in-fashion, never-before-heard-of cocktails, but rather solid choices firmly rooted in easily obtained ingredients with simple procedures. Unless, of course, you consider shaking a cocktail in a tin to be somewhat exotic.
The often overlooked, almost always underappreciated, bar in the lobby of The Windsor Court Hotel is a sparkling jewel. The ambience is “sit back and relax” with most of that feeling due to mixologist Kent Westmoreland. He focuses on drinks that reflect an era, such as 1920s Hollywood; a place, 1930s New Orleans; or a titillating topic, such as the private lives of public people. The spacious room is designed for people-watching, particularly if you want to see who’s coming to town and who’s leaving.
1. 2 ounces Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal
1 ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 ounce Benedictine
Garnish: lime twist
2. Pour all ingredients into ice-filled mixing glass and stir until chilled. Pour into chilled coupe. Garnish with lime twist.
By Kent Westmoreland
The Cocktail Bar | The Windsor Court Hotel | 300 Gravier St. | 523-6000 | WindsorCourtHotel.com
This isn’t one of those locations that’s known far and wide, unless you’re a fan of great cocktails. T. Cole Newton has taken home the top prize in just about every cocktail competition for miles around. The bar’s clientele is partial to dogs being treated as honored guests, intense games of pool, Texas-style barbecue and open mic nights. Craft cocktails flow and late-night solving-the-world’s problems discussions are de rigueur.
1. 11/2 ounces Bourbon
3/4 ounce honey syrup (2:1)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 dash Tabasco
Garnish: lemon peel
2. Shake all ingredients together. Strain and serve on ice in a rocks glass. Garnish.
By T. Cole Newton
Twelve Mile Limit | 500 S. Telemachus St. | 488-8114
Hot Buttered Rum
Beyond all question, this is one of the most beautiful restaurants, bars and courtyards in the French Quarter. Paul Gustings, the guy behind the bar, is every bit as impressive as his surroundings and has been setting the local standard for adult beverage service for a very long time. He also defies conventional progression and is getting better at both technique and level of service. His treatment of cocktails invented in New Orleans is impressive, and with the winter-time favorite noted here, has opened new doors for locals who have never even ventured anywhere near a ski slope. Do not be intimidated by the measurements on the preparation side. The whole package comes down to two servings.
1. 2 gallons water
1 pound dark brown sugar
7 cinnamon sticks
2. Boil all the above together. Reduce by half. Then add 1 1/2 ounces New Orleans Spiced Rum to 3 ounces of the hot mix. Top with a pat of butter. Stir.
As served by Paul Gustings
Empire Bar | Broussard’s Restaurant | 819 Conti St. | 581-3866 | Broussards.com
In 1979, when the Louisiana Legislature named the Catahoula Cur the official state dog, they then did what the lawmaking body is famous for and changed the name of the animal they just honored. The state dog is now officially known as the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. All of which hasn’t much to do with the name of a new hotel in the CBD and its bar that specializes in a South American spirit distilled from grapes: Pisco. Nathan Dalton, who heads up the bar program at Catahoula, is a real lover of the aromatic and versatile beverage, claimed by both Peru and Chile as their country's national drink.
1. 2 ounces Quebranta Pisco
3.4 ounce key lime juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar (not dark agave)
1 egg white
2. Vigorously shake all ingredients with ice. Strain ice and shake again without ice. Pour into coupe glass. Float three dashes of Angostura bitters on foam.
As interpreted by Nathan Dalton
Catahoula Hotel and Bar | 914 Union St. | 603-2442 | CatahoulaHotel.com
Tom & Jerry
The namesake drink of this revered watering hole wasn’t invented in New Orleans but is closely associated. Chris Hannah, who rules French 75 with an elegant touch, has opted to share a favorite of his, and a favorite of patrons “who know.” It isn’t a great stretch of the imagination to picture Arnaud’s during the 1920s, even during Prohibition. Those were absolutely golden years and even now you think “if only the mahogany could talk.” The place remains a mainstay of the grande dames of the New Orleans bar scene. The drink refers to neither the cartoon characters, nor to the cocktail book author, Jerry Thomas. Rather it’s of English origin and figures prominently in Damon Runyon’s short story, “Dancing Dan’s Christmas.”
1. 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1 tea vanilla extract
1 shaker of ground nutmeg
2. Separate the yolks from the egg-whites and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the whites with the cream of tartar until peaks begin to form, then add 1/2-cup sugar and beat until peaks form again. Add yolks and beat them in. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat. Stir in half and half. Store in a container with a lid and hold in the refrigerator until ready to be ladled into cups.
3. In a coffee mug add 3 ounces hot water and 1 1/2 ounces Whiskey or fine Cognac. Ladle 2 ounces Batter on top, sprinkle grated nutmeg on top and serve.
As submitted and prepared by Chris HannahArnaud’s French 75 Bar | 813 Bienville St. | 523-5433 | ArnaudsRestaurant.com
Henri Egg Nog
Café Henri is run by those wonderful folks who brought you Cure on Freret Street, And that should tell you all you need to know. Except that news doesn’t cover the update about the Brisket Lasagna, or the brilliant burgers and steak frites that would make a Parisian happy, or any of the other delights on an ever-moving menu. The place isn’t ambitious; it’s merely comfortable and offers something for everyone.
Cocktails, of course, are a specialty, and the ambience in line with why the Bywater has become a desired dining and drinking destination. Settle in and set your own pace.
1. 1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce Grade B Maple Syrup
11/2 ounces Buffalo Trace Whiskey
1/2 ounce Creme de Noyaux
Garnish: cinnamon dust
2. Combine all liquid ingredients and shake without ice. Add ice to shaker and shake briskly for 4 seconds. Strain into a small juice glass top with cinnamon.
By Nick DetrichCafé Henri | 800 Louisa St. | 302-2357 | Henri.cafe
Usually our area grows its own celebrities, but in the case of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, he was already a noted author and the world’s leading authority on Tiki Culture when he moved to New Orleans and set up shop with his own bar, named for the latitude parallel on which the town rests as well as an homage to the Fire Company, No. 29, right across the street from the bar in the French Quarter. One of Berry’s reasons for establishing his home base in the Crescent City was the influence and encouragement of another local author, Wayne Curtis, who continued to extol the attributes of life lived in such a unique setting. These two guys have so much in common and the list is topped by the single item, rum.
1. 1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce chai syrup*
11/4 ounces El Dorado 8-year Demerara Rum
3/4 ounce Plantation OFTD Rum
Garnish: channel-cut lime peel
2. Shake all ingredients with ice cubes. Strain into teardrop glass. Add ice sphere. Garnish with channel-cut lime peel on rim of glass.
1. 32 ounces (1 carton) Oregon Chai liquid concentrate
20 ounces Gold Turbinado or Demerara sugar
2. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly, then simmer uncovered for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool and bottle.
Created by Beachbum Berry
Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 | 321 N. Peters St. | 609-3811 | BeachbumBerry.com
Sakamoto’s Reverberating Cello
Belfast natives Pauline and Stephen Patterson have created a destination bar, restaurant and art center that demands attention. Alongside TANA, fashioned and staffed by chef Michael Gulotta who brought you MoPho, Trèo is both ambitious and successful in all it endeavors to achieve. The drinks are top-notch, the food delightful and the art both appealing and thought-provoking. This place has to be on your New Year’s list of Resolutions Aaron Sarles, an up and coming name in New Orleans mixology, has created a liquid reference to the central character in a Japanese manga, a contemporary comic strip in the style of the 19th century.
1. 2 ounces semi dry sake
1/3 ounce Milla chamomile grappa
1/3 ounce limoncello
A few drops orange citrate
Garnish: mint leaf
2. Chill a wine glass, then rinse with Nocello. Stir all other ingredients with ice and then strain into prepared glass. Garnish with a floating mint leaf.
Trèo | 3835 Tulane Ave. | 304-4878 | TreoNola.com
A protégée of Chris McMillian, Daniel Victory is carving his own place in the hallowed halls of New Orleans mixology lore. Recognized for his excellence and prowess “behind the stick” by Chilled Magazine, GQ and this very publication, Victory is part of a new generation of cocktail experts. Rules are learned, obeyed and then broken. The cozy and friendly bar isn’t just a destination but an important element of the journey. It is all a part of Daniel’s insightful realization that the individual stands tall when up on the shoulders of previous giants.
1. 11/2 ounces Ciroc Coconut
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: toasted coconut
2. Stir all ingredients and serve over one cube of ice, rocks glass, with a toasted coconut rim.
Created by Daniel Victory
Victory Bar | 330 Baronne St. | 522-8664 | VictoryNola.com
After years of tending bar for other masters, the Dean of the New Orleans Mixology community, Chris McMillian, has finally hung out his own shingle and opened Revel. It has been worth the wait. You can feel the sense of satisfaction from Chris, who with his wife, Laura, and son-in-law, Jose Ayala, are adding true believers to their mission on a daily basis. Craft cocktails, and their histories, are freely shared. It is a New Orleans version of the legendary Algonquin Hotel’s Round Table. Here is the recipe that’s safely on file with accompanying video at The Smithsonian Institution under the name Chris McMillian.
1. 4 ounces Maker’s Mark Bourbon
3/4 ounce simple syrup
10 mint leaves
Garnish: mint sprig
2. In a silver Julep Cup, muddle mint and add crushed ice to brim. Fill with bourbon, add simple syrup and garnish with a mint sprig.
As presented by Chris McMillian
Revel | 133 N. Carrollton Ave. | 309-6122 | RevelCafeAndBar.com