Dec. 7 Little Saint Nick
I’d read about it for a long time, and I knew I had to finally have the official cocktail of New Orleans, a city I’d fallen fast in love with. There was a moment when I first tasted the drink. It’s reddish hue and strong anise aromas took me somewhere away from where I was. The lemon peel, once resting on the edge of the glass, now swayed back and forth inside the drink, soaking up the 19th century flavors, almost telling its own story. I was only 24 at the time, and I already fancied myself an aficionado, for I’d tasted my first Sazerac.
Welcome back, thirsty readers, and thanks for coming back to join me again. After a zero-proof offering yesterday, I felt I owed you a solid glass of spirits to even things out. Over the years, I’ve made no secret for my love of the Sazerac cocktail. This lovely little tipple, traditionally served down in an old fashioned glass, is just my idea of cocktail in its purest form. Let’s go ahead and add some Christmas cheer to this drink of legend.
Sometimes, the holidays can be a bit frustrating. With all of the family around, there’s bound to be conflict. I usually fly home a few weeks before Christmas to see mine, knowing I won’t be able to make the actual holiday. Without fail, there’s always an uncomfortable conversation, forcing me to make the choice between standing up for my principles or keeping the peace. I’d like to say I usually take the high road, letting the comments pass, but every year it just becomes more apparent we live in different worlds. The two things always bonding us are drinks and music.
With a disconnect in generations, holiday music can really tie us together. In the worst, most heated family functions, my fondest memories are my uncle and I getting out our guitars and just having these impromptu jam sessions. This is how the night usually goes, and before too long, I find myself in my natural environment, behind the bar mixing drinks.
When you’re making cocktails for people who don’t usually drink cocktails, you’ll generally find success with lengthened, fruit forward offerings. My family is no exception to this rule. I’ve tried, year after year, to sell them on the enjoyment of the spirit-forward world of the classics, but it’s always met with a face of displeasure. This is usually when the blender comes out, not to mention cueing the music.
Let’s head back over to the Big Easy, and that notorious Sazerac. Bartending in New Orleans always made me think of my family cocktail woes. Guests from all over the world would step up to my bar, requesting the most storied cocktail in the city, only to receive something they weren’t expecting. “This is it? It’s so small!” Those are typical reactions from the middle-America crowd when you had them their Sazerac. You might also hear, “This is so strong, I wasn’t expecting that!” This is when I’m reminded that most people, like my family, think of a cocktail and pictures something closer to a highball.
So there I am, trying to explain what a cocktail “truly” is at its roots. I embark on a history lecture I wasn’t expecting to present, nor did my guests want the lesson. My words fall on deaf ears, and I usually just end up making them a hurricane, since that’s what they really wanted in the first place. Like with my family, I feel defeated as I pour another beautiful piece of myself into the sink. Will music work for this crowd, like is does on Christmas? Can we all just agree we like the Beach Boys?
Little Saint Nick
1.5oz Aged St. Lucian Rum
.5oz Aged Guyanese Rum
1 barspoon Allspice Dram
4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
(Green Chartreuse Rinse)
Old Fashioned Glass
Stir and strain into chilled, Chartreuse-rinsed glass.
Express Lime peel.
Garnish with Clove-studded Lime peel.
*Pro Tip: I used the private cask-strength Chairman's Reserve for mine, so feel free to kick up the octane a bit. A little flavor never hurt anyone. Though I should note, Sazerac style drinks tend to go back pretty fast, so make sure you pace yourself.*
Another day, another drink, or however that says goes. I have some more fun stuff planned for the rest of the month, so be sure to come back thirsty. I'll see you then. For those of you toughing it out up north in the cold, maybe a does of New Orleans is just what the doctor ordered. Don't let the winter weather get the best of you, just let the cocktails set you free, and keep shaking.