De la Louisiane

Happy New Year! I trust everyone rung in the New Year in a completely responsible and respectable manner. I did. I certainly didn’t wake up with a debilitating hangover, forcibly ejected from the halls of sleep at 6 AM by a 2½-year-old screaming “DADDY! IT’S MORNING TIME!” Nope, not me. My mouth didn’t feel like it was used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then later as its mausoleum. Heavens no. Not me. Hollow New Year’s Resolution #1: stop trying to party like it’s 2003 (an exceptional party year for me) – it hurts too much. And my suffering is met with little sympathy (nor should it be).

Obviously I’m not talking about total abstinence, but perhaps a bit more restraint. Choosing to indulge in fewer, albeit delicious, drinks. Like the one I am featuring today, which is the last in my series of drinks created by bartender Sam Ross of Attaboy and Milk & Honey fame.

This one is a drier variation on the Cocktail à la Louisiane, which itself is a cross between a Manhattan and a Sazerac. Where the Cocktail à la Louisiane uses sweet vermouth, the Cocktail de la Louisiane employs Cognac (“à means to, at, or in, where “de means of or from – subtle difference in prepositions – à is usually used to describe the use of something, while de is used to describe the contents, e.g. cocktail for Louisiana vs cocktail of Louisiana). Anyway, with the addition of Cognac and the subtraction of vermouth, this cocktail resembles a Sazerac with Bénédictine sweetening the drink rather than straight-up sugar. Come to think of it, it’s pretty close to a Vieux Carré as well. Sounds delectable. Let’s get to it.

Paternal Drunk - Post 35 - De la Louisiane - S

I keep a portion of my absinthe in an atomizer/mister, which allows me to spray the inside of glassware with the perfect amount of absinthe rinse whilst eliminating wastage. So if you have one, spray the interior of a chilled Old-Fashioned glass with a thin coat of absinthe and return the glass to the freezer until required. Otherwise pour in a small amount of la fée verte and turn the glass to evenly coat as best as you can. Add the remainder of the ingredients to your mixing glass along with a goodly amount of ice and stir until chilled (25 seconds or so). Retrieve your chilled/rinsed glass and place a single, crystal clear (!) cube of ice within. Strain the cocktail and garnish with a large swathe of lemon peel twisted smartly. Marvel in its beauty.

Some may question my choice of rye. Some may be wondering if I’ve run out of Rittenhouse. I have not (although stock is becoming alarmingly low). Which brings me to Hollow New Year’s Resolution #2: Drink more Canadian Whisky. See, now that’s an attainable resolution. It’s important to set realistic goals, I think. As it turns out, there is a new breed of whisky that’s been creeping into the Canadian drinkscape. I’m talking about Corby Lot No. 40, Wiser’s Legacy, Alberta Premium Dark Horse, and Canadian Club Chairman’s Select. I’m talking about the rye whisky that is being shipped from Alberta Distillers Limited down south to be bottled by American bottlers such as WhistlePig and Masterson’s. I’m talking about the ryes being produced by small guys like Dillon’s and 66 Gilead. These whiskies are, or are nearly, made using a 100% rye mashbill and exhibit loads of that dry spice that only this robust grain can deliver. Wiser’s Legacy was awarded Whisky Advocate’s Canadian Whisky of the Year for 2014; here’s Davin de Kergommeaux’s take on it:

A muscular, full-bodied, friendly whisky, Legacy slathers your mouth with its creamy, not-too-sweet candied essence. Hot cinnamon hearts and peppermint buttress the ginger, cloves, and nutmeg of warm Christmas pudding. Sweet vanillas and sumptuous butterscotch toffee becalm the steely earth of rye-grain whisky into kid-soft armchair leather. Then, just as you hit a pocket of black licorice, toasted new oak resurges with freshly split red cedar, over-ripe dark fruits, and out of nowhere, a briny wash of seashells. Finally, ever so gently it fades to a sweet spicy memory.

I feel like that paragraph could start with “Dear Penthouse,…” Speaking of amazing Canadian products, Distillerie Fils du Roy’s absinthe, hailing from the northeastern corner of New Brunswick, is exceptional. This absinthe is made in the traditional manner using grand wormwood, and is distilled in a 500 L (about 130 gallon) copper pot still. All of the herbs/botanicals used in the making of this high proof spirit (bottled at 72% abv) are grown adjacent the distillery. Wonderful stuff.

Like all cocktails having an absinthe rinse, as you bring the drink to your mouth, your nose is treated with aromas of spice and anise. Upon entry, you get a combination of hot pepper and wood/rye spice along with a kind of burnt/toasty caramel, crème brûlée flavour. Through the mid-palate you get a honeyed, clovey note, presumably from the Bénédictine. The finish is long with complex hot spices, more anise and a nice, barely there, hint of bitter cherry. An excellent boozy tipple, indeed.

Oh, and you may have noticed the giant cube of clear ice residing in my cocktail. My wonderful wife picked up the Neat Ice Kit for me for Christmas and I have been enjoying beautifully clear ice ever since. The insulated mold forces the water to freeze from the top down, which creates an ice brick with a distinctly clear top half. All of the air and impurities are pushed to the bottom. Pick up Dave Arnold’s epically awesome book, Liquid Intelligence, for all the gory science details as to why slow, unidirectional freezing is the key to clear ice. All that talk of enthalpy versus entropy gives me a massive science boner. YEAH, SCIENCE, BITCH! You could achieve the same thing using an Igloo 9-quart hard cooler, but I don’t have that much available freezer real estate to accommodate one.

Given this is the last of the cocktails in the “Sam Ross series”, here’s an episode of Girl on Guy with the man himself interviewed by Aisha Taylor (skip ahead to 8:40 to get to the interview).

Oh and before I forget, today marks the 1 year anniversary of the Paternal Drunk! Since its inception, the site has garnered 10,186 views! That’s actually not that many (about 28 views/day) – ha! – but it’s a good start, I reckon. I’d like to give a huge shout out to my incredible, understanding wife who has not only tolerated, but fully enabled supported my drinking addiction hobby. Since this obsession began, she’s bestowed me with cocktail books, antique glassware, ice kits and the ilk; but, what I am most appreciative of is her seemingly unending patience as I rattle on about this whiskey or that new liqueur, myriad infusions, barrel maturation and the science behind shaking and stirring. Nicole, I thank you dearly.

While I am thanking people, I’d also like to give big thanks to Mitch Leblanc who has proof-read every single post that has graced The Paternal Drunk. And the man doesn’t even drink. Frickin’ amazing. Thank you kind sir; you are a gentleman and a scholar – each post has been improved thanks to your keen eye for detail and constructive comments (he didn”t proof-read this paragraph, so their maybe typoes(.

Let’s raise our drinks to 2015: to the wealth of the nation – may it grow and prosper!