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August 2015

The Resilience Of New Orleans

NOLA coffee mugTen years ago today Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans and left in her wake lost lives, uprooted communities, and widespread devastation.  Today this unique city has not only survived, but thrived.  The resulting changes have not been without tension. As Manuel Roig-Franzia wrote in a recent Washington Post article: "A city some feared might be left for dead ... is undergoing a social, economic, and cultural revolution.  Yet it is still a place deeply tied to its ancient traditions and rites, stubbornly and proudly unique, unparalleled in its embrace of the weird, the mysterious, the whimsical."

In memory of those who died during Katrina, and in tribute to those who have been instrumental in the city's resurgence, have a New Orleans cocktail or two.  You can go classic old school with a  Sazerac or Vieux Carre.  You can go a little off the beaten path with a Place D'Armes.  You can go mix it up with a Vieux Nouveau Sazerac. You can go with an appropriate original creation such as the Bourbon Renaissance.  Just have a cocktail or two and toast to the city's resilience.


Bliss In A Glass -- The Tranquilo

This is what George Costanza from Seinfeld meant when he insisted on having "Serenity now!"
This is what George Costanza from Seinfeld meant when he emphatically insisted on having "Serenity now!"  Of course, he didn't get what he wanted.

Want to relax?  Take the edge off?  Has someone told you to "chill the (rhymes with duck) out" and you know they're right?

When (not if) you answer yes to any of these questions, have a Tranquilo.  I adapted this from a cocktail at the Sanctuary Cap Cana resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which is the site of many blissful moments for me and my far better half. 

2.25 ounces light rum
Juice from 1/4 lime
.75 ounces glorious grenadine

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the rhythm of rolling waves hitting the beach at sunset, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Tranquilo is a simple cocktail, so I guess in this instance simplicity equals serenity. You can use a gold or dark rum instead of light rum. Regardless of the rum you use, psychologically speaking the Tranquilo will get you to where you want to go.  Isn't that the point of cocktails? 


Pride Of Peru (With Protein!) -- The Pisco Sour

It's refreshing, delicious, and contains 3.6 grams of protein (the amount in an egg white according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
It's refreshing, delicious, and contains 3.6 grams of protein (the amount in an egg white according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture).

Pisco is a grape brandy from either Peru or Chile.  If you saw the post about torched Dutch grapes (click here to read it), you learned that brandy can come from anywhere.  Both Peru and Chile insist that pisco and the Pisco Sour belong to their respective countries.  In 2013 the United States recognized pisco as a unique product of either country (in exchange they recognized bourbon and Tennessee whiskey as unique American products).

The Pisco Sour is the most famous of pisco cocktails.  Interestingly, just as an American in Cuba created the Daiquiri, an American in Peru created the Pisco Sour.   

2 ounces pisco
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 ounce super simple syrup
1 egg white
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine everything but the bitters in a shaker, shake as if you're bolting up the mountain towards Machu Picchu (this is dry shaking because there's no ice), add ice, shake again (now you're wet shaking), strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and add the bitters into the foam.

Pisco is popular enough that you can get it in liquor stores. If you order a Pisco Sour in a bar you may have to ask the bartender to add the bitters.  Not only are the bitters visually appealing, but they give the drink a nice little twist.  

I'm not going to weigh in on whether Peru or Chile has the right to claim exclusive ownership of pisco.  So which version of the Pisco Sour do I prefer?  My research indicates that the Peruvian version has egg white and bitters, but the Chilean version does not.  I love protein, so I'm going with Peru on this one.  Hope that doesn't make me persona non grata in Chile.


Happy Hour History

Happy Hour. It can be the most wonderful time of the day.  You have no more work (unless you have an unhealthy addiction to your smartphone), a drink in your hand, and the potential for good times.

But when did the concept start?  And how has it evolved over time?  Click here to read an interesting article in a HubSpot marketing blog.   Thanks to my wife, also known as Ms. Wulf Cocktail Den, for seeing the article and sending it to me.

You will learn a lot of interesting facts.  For example, the "happy hour" originated in the U.S. Navy and had nothing to do with drinking.  It wasn't until Prohibition, which brought us great cocktails such as the Scofflaw (as well as the word), that the term became associated with drinking.

Now put your smartphone away and get back to your cocktail.


The $20 Cocktail -- The Place D'Armes

Jackson Square (with St. Louis Cathedral in the background) is a popular spot.
Jackson Square (with St. Louis Cathedral in the background) is a popular spot in New Orleans.

A $20 cocktail?!  Isn't that expensive?  Yes, but it doesn't really cost $20.  So why call it a $20 cocktail?  Because it pertains to Andrew Jackson. Who?  The guy on the $20 bill. Before he became the seventh President of the United States, Jackson was best known for defeating the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.  So why the funky French name?  Because the famous Jackson Square in New Orleans used to be known as the Place D'Armes.

Thanks to Marvin Allen, a great bartender at the legendary Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone (and author of the excellent book Magic in a Shaker) for introducing me to this cocktail.

 

I bet this New Orleans resident likes Ward 8s (look closely).
This New Orleans resident likes Ward 8s (look closely).

1.5 ounces rye whiskey
Juice from 1/8 lemon
Juice from 1/8 lime
Juice from 1/8 orange
,75 ounces glorious grenadine

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're leading the charge against the British, and strain into a chilled glass.

Even though the Place D'Armes is a year round cocktail, to me it's particularly refreshing during the summer months. The Place D'Armes is similar to the Ward 8.  Both have rye as the base spirit, incorporate citrus juices, and use grenadine as the finishing touch. Who knew there's a vague New Orleans-Boston (or N'awlins-Bahstun) cocktail connection?  You do now.


Torched Dutch Grapes -- The Etymology Of Brandy

We've all heard of brandy.  It's the base spirit of great cocktails such as the Sidecar, and it's a key component in other cocktails such as the Vieux Carre. But what is it?  And why do we call it brandy?

Brandy -- torched Dutch grapes
If my wife's Dutch decorative wood shoe fits, don't burn it.

Brandy is basically distilled wine that usually is aged in oak barrels.  The aging process is similar to bourbon (click here for a synopsis of how to determine a French brandy's age).

In the 17th century the Dutch word for burning or distilling was "branden" and the word for wine was "wijn."  So what was the Dutch word for "burned wine?"  "Brandewijn." And how would you say that in English? Brandywine. 

You've heard of Cognac.  Cognac is to brandy as Champagne is to sparking wine -- it denotes a specific geographic area (France in both cases).  As I mentioned in a prior post, all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac.  There are many other good brandies out there.  For example, I recommend Metaxa, which hails from Greece, or pisco, which hails from Peru or Chile.  Regardless of its provenance, brandy can be the beginning of some great experiences.  So get some burned grapes and make wonderful memories. 

 


Liquid Ecstasy -- The Intense Ginger Sutra

We've all heard of the Kama Sutra, the ancient Indian treatise on sex and love.  Kama Sutra roughly means "love manual" in Sanskrit.  Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur (full disclosure -- I am a very small investor) created this cocktail.  Just as the Kama Sutra spread its teachings to people all over the world, I'm happy to share my knowledge of the Intense Ginger Sutra to drinkers all over the world.

Were you expecting an erotic photo?  Although I guess this is boozerotica.
Did you expect an erotic photo? Consider this boozerotica.

2 ounces vodka
.75 ounces Barrow's Intense
.5 ounces glorious grenadine

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the passion of (use your imagination), and strain into a chilled glass.

In 2014 I discovered Barrow's Intense and had the privilege of meeting the people behind it.  If you can't get your hands on a bottle of Barrow's Intense, there are other ginger liqueurs on the market, but they pale in comparison. 

Will this cocktail put you in a state of ecstasy?  There's one way to find out.  Will it help you and your spouse/partner/significant other achieve a state of ecstasy?  That's your business, not mine.