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New Orleans Cocktails
Photo/Daniel Krieger

On my first trip to New Orleans as a college swell at Mardi Gras, I cut out at dawn on Ash Wednesday, believing that the party ended with the beginning of Lent. Two weeks later, another classmate returned from a visit and reported the revelry was still in full swing. The point is a party like that is hard to stop, so if you missed Fat Tuesday a New Orleans cocktail may still be in order.

New Orleans is a cradle of mixology, having given birth to dozens of drinks, including such classics as the Sazerac (one of the first true cocktails), the Brandy Crusta and Ramos Gin Fizz. A later entry on the list is the Vieux Carré, which arrived in the 1930s, with a French name that means Old Square (the French Quarter), at the Hotel Monteleone. Because one wasn’t enough, this drink includes two bitters in an already complex mix.

Vieux Carré
Bénédictine 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. Cognac
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Lemon twist as garnish

Rinse an Old-Fashioned glass with Bénédictine. Drop in bitters and a large ice cube. Pour in rye, Cognac and vermouth and stir. Add garnish.

Arnaud’s Special
Invented at Arnaud’s French 75 bar in the city’s Bywater section a few years after World War II, the Arnaud’s Special celebrated Scotch whisky with a French twist on the classic Rob Roy (Scotch and vermouth).

2 oz. peat-forward blended Scotch
1 oz. (or to taste) Dubonnet
2 dashes orange bitters
Orange twist garnish

Pour whisky, aperitif and bitters into a mixing glass over ice. Stir briskly. Serve in cocktail glass with garnish.

NOLO is also known for touristy quaffs that go down easy. This is the best (when not too sweet). The legend is that it was invented to deal with a flood of rum after Prohibition ended. Some drink it in a hurricane lamp glass, but that’s just silly.

2 oz. light rum
2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. orange juice 1/2 oz. passion fruit syrup
1 dash grenadine
Simple syrup
Lemon wedge

Over ice in a Collins glass, pour rums, juices and passion fruit syrup. Add grenadine to color and mix in simple syrup as needed to sweeten. Stir and garnish.


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