With the Super Bowl in New Orleans this Sunday, every TV show in the country is showing people how to celebrate like they do in NOLA: gumbo, jambalaya, etc. But I say if you want to party like a local, you really should be drinking a brandy milk punch or a sazerac.
I’ve always loved cocktails. But the problem as of late has more to do with bar chefs clouding the flavors of the hard-to-source, sought-after spirirts that are supposed to shine through. Does every other drink have to contain elderflower (St. Germain) or a rosemary/blueberry/fill-in-the-blank syrup? Sometimes, I just want a simple, straightforward cocktail, like this all-American classic.
Created in New Orleans in the 1800s, it was originally made with cognac, but later, evolved to include all-American rye. The key is bitters, usually from the Peychaud’s brand, plus an herbsaint-lined glass and a bit of simple syrup to balance it out. I’ve had amazing, New Orleans-quality sazeracs at Bar DeVille in Ukrainian Village, and was surprised to see the drink taking hold in Toronto, where it’s also on the southern-influenced menu at the excellent Acadia. One of Chicago’s best versions reigns at Big Jones in Andersonville, where Beverage Director Dave Devaney keeps it local by deploying some North Shore absinthe; he showed me how it’s done.