I’ve been thinking about New Orleans lately, a lot. I’m not sure if I am missing it or if it is missing me, but there is something in the air. Who am I kidding? I am missing everywhere. I’ve been having dreams about dinners in truck stops in Oklahoma and driving across Kansas. Both noble activities, but hardly exciting, well except during tornado weather. Where was I, oh, dreaming about cafe au lait and beignets, green ones and yellow ones and wondering if the room is spinning or if it’s just me in the bar at the Hotel Montelone. Yeah, I know what it means to miss New Orleans. So, join me as we stand and make a Crescent City classic, the Vieux Carre.
First things first, though I have enjoyed it often, I have no confidence in how to pronounce this drink, so I sort of mumble “view care-ay” and smile knowingly. You know that smile that confidently says, I know I’m mispronouncing it, but it’s for effect? That way if I get it right, yay and if I’m butchering it I’m aware. I’m tellin y’all, pretending to be cool is hard. Hopefully, I’m ordering it at the Carousel Bar, where it originated. They’re used to the tourists murdering the language, so I’ll fit right in. Though, if I’m honest I prefer the window seat to sitting at the bar, in this case. For me, it’s kinda like one of those sushi train places, for people watching. As the bar slowly turns before you, imagine their stories, guess how things will change for them in the fifteen minutes it takes for them to come back around. Oh, and make sure you check the price board before you pick one up. Nothing more embarrassing than grabbing a red plate snack on a blue plate budget. Well enough reminiscing and wishing, let’s get to mixing.
Into your fancy cut glass mixing pitcher add an ounce of rye whiskey, I used Crater Lake Reserve, an ounce of Cognac, Hennessy natch, an ounce of sweet vermouth and 1/4 ounce of benedictine. 2 dashes of Peychaud’s and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, add ice and stir. Stir with purpose, careful to keep the back of your barspoon to the inside of the pitcher. Grab your julep strainer and strain into a rocks glass over one large cube. Unless you have one of those fancy corksicle things to freeze an ice wedge into the glass in which case, by all means, use it. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist, or if you are out of those, use a lime. This drink is very much a do as I say, not as I do thing today.
It’s so nice. Boozy but not painful. Complex flavors that continue to develop as it dilutes. It’s a good drink, plus if you’ve ever had too many of them in the French Quarter, it’s filled memories and regrets, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.