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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.

Boston Strong -- The Ward 8

Even though Boston is a great city with a rich history, it is not known as a cocktail town.  That being said, you never should accuse Bostonians of being teetotalers, unless you are ignorant and/or have a death wish.  Although the precise birthplace and inventor of the Ward 8 are unclear (the name refers to a political district), the consensus is that someone in Boston (my parents are from there) invented this cocktail around the turn of the 20th century. 

Make your liver Boston Strong
Make your liver Boston Strong

2.25 ounces rye (go with Bulleit or Willett if you can)
Juice from 1/4 a lemon
Juice from 1/8 an orange
.5 ounces glorious grenadine syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir as if you're walking with excitement to Boston's secular cathedral (otherwise known as Fenway Park), and strain into a chilled glass.

The ingredients of this cocktail may seem incongruous.  In that respect the cocktail honors the city.  For example, there's a wonderful line about Boston being a place where a lot of truly brilliant people coexist with a few violent psychopaths (I'm giving you the less profane version of how I heard it).  I'm not saying that rye is brilliant and grenadine syrup is psychopathic, or vice versa.  I'm merely saying that certain things go together better than you might think.  So make yourself a Ward 8, put on a good movie that takes place in Boston (such as The Departed, Good Will Hunting, or the original Thomas Crown Affair), and enjoy.

Liquid Natitude -- The National

I am a proud fan of the Washington Nationals baseball team.  Having been in the stands in the early days when they were truly awful, I'm thrilled whenever the Nationals make the playoffs. It means the team has talent, experience, and Natitude. 

I wear these beads with pride when I attend a Nationals game
I wear these beads with pride when I attend a Nationals game

Do the Nationals have the potential to win the World Series? Absolutely. Will they? I have no idea. This is why I have faith, which I define as belief without proof. My friend and fellow Nats fan Laura once asked an incisive question: “Why don’t you create a cocktail for the Nationals?” This is what I did.

2 ounces rye
1 ounce unsweetened cherry juice
.5 ounces triple sec (I like Cointreau)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the deliberate precision of a Nationals pitcher throwing a curveball while facing a full count, and strain into a chilled glass. Luxardo or amarena cherry garnish optional.

Go Nats!
Let's go Nats!

Rye is a quintessentially American spirit just as baseball is a quintessentially American sport.  (Note to Anglophiles – yes, I know baseball is vaguely related to cricket. I don’t care.)  In addition, George Washington distilled rye at Mount Vernon, so there is the strong link between rye and our first President.  For the cherry juice, red is the dominant color of the Nationals, and as Ms. Cocktail Den astutely noted, Washington is known for its Cherry Blossom Festival.  Also, there is the fable about George Washington and the cherry tree.  Use unsweetened cherry juice if you can. Cointreau helps the National become the cocktail equivalent of crisply executed 6-4-3 double play – elegant and effective.

Show your Natitude and drink a National!