Portland-area readers may be unaware that the Museum of the American Cocktail has organized a nation-wide event to benefit New Orleans’ displaced and unemployed food and beverage workers. As yet, the only participating establishment in Portland (or Oregon, for that matter) is Mint / 820, at 820 N Russell St, conveniently located off the Interstate MAX line. That’s where you’ll find me this Monday the 12th, from 5-7pm, drinking somewhat irresponsibly in aid of a very good cause. I hope to see some of you there.
Update (09/12/05): Mint/820 was having a fairly decent night of it — not wall-to-wall, but well-attended — and, better yet, they didn’t limit themselves to the official 5-7pm time slot. The proceeds (which is to say 100%) from all “New Orleans” drinks sold until closing are going to the cause. According to our waiter, the liquor suppliers donated their wares, making it a more financially-viable decision to run the event all night. I availed myself of their French 75 (since I so rarely make champagne cocktails at home) and a Sazerac. Pity they weren’t making Ramos Gin Fizzes, but then again, I tend to think of them as daytime drinks.
1 1/2 oz. light rum
1 1/2 oz. dark rum
2 oz. passion fruit juice
1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. lime juice
2 tsp grenadine
Shake and strain into a goblet or traditional hurricane glass filled with crushed ice. Straws are nice.
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Here’s hoping that Hurricane Katrina does. Current forecasts have the category five monstrosity making landfall sometime Monday morning, with the Crescent City a very likely port of call. My father happens to have been in New Orleans with some friends this weekend, but no longer — at last report this afternoon, they’d managed to rent a van and make it as far as Baton Rouge, one more creeping vehicle in the evacuation of an estimated one million people. As of now, the 20% of New Orleans residents who are still in town are advised to remain where they are.
Max Sparber of the New Orleans-based braves the coming tempest with
a timely article on The Hurricane, both the impending natural disaster and the phenomenon from Pat O’Brien’s. Max doesn’t mention DL’s own plans for evacuation, but here’s hoping they’ve made it to somewhere well above sea level. Food and drink blogger Chuck Taggart of Looka! and the Gumbo Pages reports that his family have made it out, but reprints a particularly shocking alert from the NWS that seems to predict total devastation. I’ve seen no word about what measures the Museum of the American Cocktail has taken, but if the worst-case scenario of Katrina plays out, it’s quite possible that a little second-story exhibit in the French Quarter may not make it through.
It’s not looking good for one of America’s great cities, but fretting never helped and the morning will tell the tale. For me, thousands of miles away, I’m putting on some Armstrong, thinking happy thoughts, and raising a glass or two in salute to a city that’s given us so much.
We are pleased to note, albeit somewhat tardily, the advent of The Daily Lush, a new blogzine about matters drink-related which appears to have emerged fully-formed from the collective skull of its creators last month. True to its name, DL is updated with a fresh, meaty article daily… impressive, and not a pace to which we would dare aspire. There’s not much background on the feverishly productive duo responsible, but Max Sparber and Courtney Mault, denizens of New Orleans, claim authorship on alternate days..
Update: [04/01/08] We note, belatedly, the passing of The Daily Lush. Katrina seemed to take the wind from her sails, and Sparber… well, the grass doesn’t grow under his feet. The man is an industry unto himself.
2 oz. rye whiskey
1 lump (or tsp) sugar
1/4 tsp pastis
3-4 dashes Peychaud bitters
1 lemon twist
Coat the inside of an Old Fashioned glass with the pastis, pouring off any excess. Muddle sugar and Peychaud bitters with a few drops of water (less than 1/4 tsp), or use simple syrup. Stir rye in an iced shaker to chill and strain into glass. Twist lemon peel over drink to release its oils.
Despite an abiding fondness for the Old Fashioned, I had not until now sampled the Sazerac, its close relative and one of New Orleans’ signature cocktails. In part, I blame this shortcoming on a perpetual lack of ingredients: I prefer Scotch for neat drinking and Bourbon for mixing, particularly dislike the anise flavors of pastis (Absinthe, Pernod, Herbsaint, etc), and have never owned a bottle of Peychaud bitters because, well, its raison d’être these days is the Sazerac. Fortunately, my recent commitment to stocking a broader bar means that I now have a bottle of Pernod to employ when a pastis is called for, and a bottle of Peychaud on the general principle that I should find more uses for bitters. I picked up some Old Overholt Rye just today, and in the Sazerac I have found ample justification for keeping all three in constant supply.
If you like an Old Fashioned, you will very much enjoy a Sazerac. If you’re not one for short whiskey drinks, this may not be for you, though I would encourage testing that assumption. If you dislike licorice and anise, don’t be put off — the rye seems to mask the aspects of anisette that I find objectionable, and yet the drink is much more complex than straight rye with a bit of sugar. There must be undertones to the Pernod and Peychaud’s that emerge from this venerable synthesis, because there is a honeyed cherry fruitiness to the Sazerac that makes all the difference in the world.
Others have written on the subject better and more extensively than I could hope to, and I direct attention in particular to Chuck Taggart’s excellent appreciation of the Sazerac from his Gumbo Pages site. In print, the recently published vol 1. of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail contains a biography of A. A. Peychaud by Phil Greene, touching in many places on the Sazerac’s 170 year history.