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Don’t Complicate the Cocktail


Looks like the corner, finally, has been turned. And not a moment too soon.

We went through a period of ego and self-congratulations in the Cocktail World of the early 1990’s and into the new century where crazy drink recipes were all the rage. Bartenders were young, arrogant, had high opinions of themselves, and were challenged by peers to create something. Anything.

What we all saw were a raft of poorly balanced, overly complicated, multiple ingredients cocktails, many of which “demanded” special glassware to show off… what? No telling, but sad examples of mixology left a trail of unsatisfied customers tossing into the trash can (Wanting to forget? Ashamed of morning-after regret?)  credit card copies of charges that were positively obscene.

The situation was not helped by an entertaining film, Cocktail, where the two central figures were more interested in choreography than with good drinks. Fun to watch, but, please, let’s not go to those bars for liquid refreshments.

Making a good drink is an art. Toss into the mix a little talent, a hefty dose of common sense, and a mental brake that says, “Enough!”

Not only are the best cocktails without gimmicks, but they are easy to make. Part of the challenge of cocktails is to be fresh and yet solid. This is particularly true if you are a professional bartender. That first drink must be made and in the customer’s hands in less than 4 minutes from the patron’s point of entry. Bar customers are eager to support the mission of a bar, which is to provide a comfortable, welcoming ambience and not have any guests with two free hands.

It seems seasonally proper to acknowledge cocktails that are classics, yet not so old that their day has passed. I still love these drinks when made by a respectful master. Art is simplicity.


Hemingway Daiquiri

Ernest Hemingway, nicknamed Papa, loved these drinks. So much so that he was known to enjoy as many as half a dozen, or more, at a time. His preference was to add twice the rum called for in the recipe, and those are known as Papa Dobles.


  • Ice
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 3/4-ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2-ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1 lime wheel, for garnish (optional)


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients except the lime wheel and shake well.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe with crushed or chipped ice, and garnish with the lime wheel.


Courtesy Food & Wine Online



Mai Tai

Too many games have been played by too many bartenders and the Mai Tai, the proper drink invented by Don the Beachcomber, has all but disappeared. Even our own Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, proprietor of Latitude 29 in the Quarter, has almost turned his back on this Tiki classic.

I think we can all do better, and here is a solid recipe, perfect for our hot, steamy summers. The drink should not be just any color of the rainbow. It should be a deep amber hue, and the sweeteners should not dominate the drink. The liquor is the hero here.


  • Crushed ice
  • mint sprig
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce Rhum Clément VSOP Martinique rum
  • 1 ounce Appleton Estate Extra dark Jamaican rum
  • 1/2 ounce orange Curacao
  • 1/2 ounce Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat
  • 1/4 ounce sugar syrup


  1. In your shaker pour  fresh lime juice, Rhum Clément VSOP Martinique rum, Appleton Estate Extra dark Jamaican rum, orange Curacao, Latitude 29 Formula Orgeat and sugar syrup.
  2. Add at least 2 cups of crushed ice, then shake well for around 10 seconds.
  3. Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass. Sink your spent lime shell in the drink, and garnish with a mint sprig.
Courtesy of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry




Another fun and fabulous cocktail that has gone completely off the rails. And a great example of certain bartenders who show no respect for their products or customers.

The Daiquiri is a cocktail likely invented in a town of the same name on the southeastern tip of Cuba. Daiquiris are simplicity in a glass and not necessarily the sweet mess they have become in certain bars and on certain streets. No names, please.


  • 2 cups crushed ice, plus extra for chilling glass
  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 1-ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, strained of pulp
  • 1/2-ounce Simple Syrup


  1. Chill your serving glass. Place some crushed ice in it and set it aside while you prepare the cocktail.
  2. Place the 2 cups of crushed ice into a cocktail shaker. Pour the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup over the ice, cover, and shake well.
  3. Remove the ice from your serving glass and strain the drink into it.
  4. Serve immediately.


Courtesy Alton Brown, Food Network.



Happy Hot Weather Drinking!






Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails every month in New Orleans Magazine.


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