May is that fascinating transitional month where we know what’s coming, and for many moments it’s already here, but not totally – not just yet.
Staving off the heavy heat and high humidity of summer, even if only for a few more days, is on the mind, but so is the inevitability of what’s right around the corner. In May, we busy ourselves with the closing moments of a great festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, while seeking refuge under trees, beneath tents and in lines to purchase ice-cold beer. Music is the pleasurable and rewarding diversion, staying comfortable the immediate quest.
We end the month on Royal Street at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, walking into and out of air-conditioned shops sipping wines, not so much in a hurry to the exit from the cool.
We are not quite done with the heavy food and drink normally associated with the previous season while we also seek provisions that deliver lighter outcomes.
Making a surprise appearance this month is a port cocktail. Yes, port is heavy, yet The Refresher is cool; hence the name. Port is a beverage from that northern region of Portugal, from the town of Oporto. Are you seeing the pattern here?
For ports, wine is made, which involves fermentation and then fortified, which involves distillation. The maker waits a few years for the concoction to get itself together and then sends it to market where we scoff it up and add more ingredients for the cocktail. Straightforward it is not.
In its favor, the cocktail is easy to make. Invented in the French Quarter by chef and owner Richard Hughes with the talented gang at Pelican Club, the result is something simple, quite refreshing and totally in keeping with the time of year, which defies one description.
1 ounce Sandeman Founders Reserve Port
1 1/2 ounce Plymouth Gin
4 ounces watermelon water
2 ounces Sprite or similar soft drink
Mint and cucumber slice
In a shaker add all ingredients except ice and Sprite. Shake. Pour in highball glass filled with ice. Top with Sprite and garnish with mint and cucumber slice.
As created and served at Pelican Club, 312 Exchange Place, 523-1504, PelicanClub.com.