Tyler Chauvin was thinking Christmas flavors when she crafted the cocktail that would win the local USBG chapter's "new members" contest in December. Recreating the drink recently at Finn McCool's, she noticed that "it tastes like Mardi Gras, too," she said.
The cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg notes - and creamy texture, besides - come from RumChata, a spirited variation of Mexican horchata that's also made from ground rice. It tastes like a rummy rice pudding.
Tyler pairs it with Midnight Moon's cherry-drenched moonshine, which brings a clean, fruity bite, and a few drops of aromatic orange flower water. She gives the cocktail extra heft with an egg white and splash of soda water.
Her "Mistletoe Fizzle" isn't on the menu at Finn's, precisely because it requires two separate shakes - dry, with just the egg white, and then again with the liquors and ice. "It's too labor intensive," says Tyler, especially when the bar swells to 300 customers.
But she can make it for anyone who asks, because the bar stocks these spirits and eggs, ingredients you'd expect to see more at a craft cocktail bar than a neighborhood joint. Finn's has been adding specialty cocktails to their list - still heavy with beers and Irish whiskies - since last year.
Tyler, who's getting a master's degree in English lit at UNO, says she gets her "palate development" from learning wine lists while working at various restaurants. Finn's owners Stephen and Pauline Patterson have also enlisted her to kick off the craft cocktail list at their upcoming venture, Trèo, which will open by summer on Tulane Avenue.
For Trèo, Tyler is playing with a bourbon mint tea, seasoned with Moroccan bitters, as well as a gin sour made with juice from preserved lemons and pickled fennel syrup. The mint and fennel will likely be plucked from Trèo's indoor hanging garden.
But that's another season. We're still in the throes of Carnival, and that calls for Tyler's winning drink.
Finn McCool's, 3701 Banks Street, 486.9080
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