Whether you’re living in or visiting New Orleans, the cocktail scene here is an amazing adventure. But there are a few critical things to pay attention to as you embrace the city’s cocktail culture. First thing to mention is the importance of using fresh ingredients. It simply makes a far superior cocktail. Next, you want to find a bartender who enjoys their craft of creating a well-made and balanced drink. And perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is to put yourself in a place where the atmosphere makes the imbibing experience that much more pleasurable. It could be a local dive, a comfortable lounge, a fancy courtyard or even a breezy front porch along the historic St. Charles Avenue watching the sights and sounds of this amazing city. To some of us, we believe a quality cocktail is of the utmost important because, after all, it was created here. And so, in my opinion, here are the ways to create the Top 10 New Orleans cocktails and a little bit about each of them.

Also, in a city where we can sometimes find it easy to overdo it, my final tip is to always drink responsibly.

• Sazerac. The official cocktail of New Orleans has been around the French Quarter since the middle of the 19th century; it embodies the true definition of the cocktail.

1    cube sugar
7-9    dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2    ounces rye whiskey
    Herbsaint to coat glass
    Lemon twist for garnish

In a mixing glass, muddle sugar cube, bitters and a splash of water. Stir with ice for a minimum of 25 times to insure proper dilution and consistency of taste.

Rinse a chilled rocks glass with Herbsaint. Strain cocktail into glass. Twist lemon zest over cocktail and place on the side of the Sazerac.

• Ramos Gin Fizz. This is the quintessential breakfast cocktail. Former Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long took his favorite New Orleans bartenders to New York, just so that he could have this cocktail made for him while doing his political duties in the Northeast. He considered it his gift to the Big Apple, making this drink a labor of love.

Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lime
2    bar spoons powdered sugar
White of 1 egg
1    ounce cream
4-5     drops orange flower water
1 1/2     ounce classic London dry gin

Place all ingredients into a small tin and perform a “dry shake” – shaking a cocktail without ice – to allow for a thicker consistency. Add ice and shake vigorously for a minimum of 1 1/2 minutes. Strain into a Collins glass, top with soda and give a slight stir with a bar spoon. Place a straw in the center of the cocktail to check for the proper viscosity.

(If you dare to have a second round, try a secret ingredient that was never written of but sometimes tasted: A drop of vanilla extract.)

• French 75. This is a slightly controversial cocktail, because some say that it’s made with gin, while other protest that it could’ve been made only with brandy at the time of its invention. I am not one to judge, so let’s have one of each.

1     ounce cognac or 1 ounce London dry gin
1/2    ounce simple syrup
1/2    ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
    Sparkling wine to top
    Lemon twist for garnish

Place all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir vigorously. Strain into a champagne flute and top with sparkling wine, stirring gently. Garnish with a lemon twist.

• Hurricane. This drink was created to empty the overflow of rum sitting in the storeroom of the now-famous Pat O’Brien’s. Notice the great flavors of passion fruit and lime with as much rum as the palate can handle.

1     ounce gold rum
1     ounce silver rum
1     ounce passion fruit syrup
1/2     ounce lime juice
1/2     ounce dark rum to float
    Orange slice and a cherry for garnish    

Add all ingredients to a small tin. Add ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a hurricane glass. Float the additional rum and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

• Pimm’s Cup. A favorite daytime cocktail. Pimm’s by itself is an amazing cocktail in the bottle, but with the ingredients below and a dash of “love,” it makes the perfect partner for some good ol’ Louisiana oysters.

2    ounces Pimm’s No. 1
1/2    lemon, juiced
1/2    lime, juiced
3/4-1     ounce simple syrup
1     strawberry
1     blackberry
2     raspberries.
    Ginger ale to top
    Several slices cucumber for garnish

Add the Pimm’s, lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup and fruit to a goblet. Add ice. Top with ginger ale and stir briefly.

Garnish with cucumber.
• Brandy Milk Punch. Not too hard to make, but creamy and delicious. It is great to drink all day, morning noon or night.

(That is why we love New Orleans: How many other places on the planet can we look forward to having a drink for breakfast, lunch and dinner?)

2     ounces brandy
2     bar spoons powdered sugar
2     drops vanilla extract
1 1/2     ounce whole milk

Place all ingredients into a small tin. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a small Collins glass and grate fresh nutmeg on top. Add a straw.

• Vieux Carré. One of the hidden gems of our cocktail culture that doesn’t get the credit it deserves, this cocktail is a great way to celebrate one of the most famous neighborhoods in New Orleans: The French Quarter. This drink has many complex flavors that will speak to your senses.

3/4     ounce rye whisky
3/4     ounce brandy
3/4     ounce sweet vermouth
1     bar spoon Bénédictine
2     Dashes each of Peychaud’s and
         Angostura bitters
    Orange zest for garnish

Place all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice and stir at least 25 times to achieve proper dilution and consistency. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with an orange zest.

• Brandy Crusta. Invented in 1852 on Gravier Street, this cocktail is the great-grandfather to many drinks we know today, such as the Sidecar, Margarita and even the Cosmopolitan.

Sugar for rimming
1/2     ounce brandy
1/2     ounce Cointreau
1/2     ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2     dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1     dash maraschino liquor
    Orange twist for garnish

Prep a Coupe glass by coating half the rim with sugar. Pour the rest of the ingredients into a small tin. Shake vigorously and strain into prepped glass. Garnish with orange twist.

• Bloody Mary. If gumbo were served in a glass, this would be it. If you have it, throw it in. Spicy or mild, it’s known to be one of the most effective hangover cures. Bottoms up!

1 1/2     ounces vodka
4     ounces tomato juice
    Juice of two lemon wedges
    Juice of two lime wedges
1     bar spoon Worcestershire sauce
    Few dashes Tabasco®
    Black pepper and salt to taste
    Whatever you want to add

Place all ingredients into a glass, stair with a straw and garnish with a few spicy green beans, sticks of celery and so on.

• Absinthe Frappe. It isn’t for the weak of heart, but if you love a good anise flavor, this is the perfect evening sipping cocktail. And now that absinthe has become legal again (five years ago), why not?

1 1/2     ounces absinthe
1/4     ounce simple syrup
6-8     mint leaves
    Club soda to top

In a rocks glass, muddle absinthe, simple syrup and mint leaves. Fill with crushed ice and top with soda. Stir and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Master mixologist Daniel Victory is the co-owner of Victory at 339 Baronne St., 522-8664, VictoryCocktails.com.