A culture of sophisticated drinking
September 4, 2006 12:56 PM Subscribe
A little more than a year after leaving New Orleans, I miss the culture of sophisticated drinking. Sure, maybe not on Bourbon Street, home of the sickly sweet hurricane and Hand Grenade. But you head off Bourbon and you can get a very pleasant Pimms cup at the Napoleon House. And just down the street is a military antiques store that was once the pharmacy where Antoine Amadie Peychaud invented the sazerac, which lays claims to being the word's oldest cocktail. Any good bartender in New Orleans will be able to make you one; finding a sazerac-capable bartender outside the city is almost impossible. Of course, just outside the French Quarter, in the Fairmont Hotel, is the Sazerac bar, but, surprisingly, their specialty is not the sazerac, but the favorite drink of Huey Long, the delicious Ramos Gin Fizz. Nearby, back in the Quarter, on an upper floor of the Pharmacy Museum, was the former home of the Museum of the American Cocktail -- now seemingly in transit after Katrina. At the opening, cocktail chef Dale Degroff served up his specialty -- pre-Prohibition cocktails, including a brandy crusta that still makes me weep from the pleasure of it. Sure, up here in Minneapolis we invented the cosmopolitan, but somehow a drink that's also become popular as a perfume doesn't have that same Crescent City je ne sais quoi.
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