Cocktail News - Mar 18, 2013

00:00 March 18, 2013
By: David Vicari

The Windsor Court names a new head mixologist. The Windsor Court Hotel has tapped Ryan Asay as head mixologist, two months after the departure of Christine Jeanine Nielsen, who had helped launch the luxury hotel's innovative cocktail bar.

On the Windsor Court bar team since 2012, Ryan previously tended bar in his native Portland, Ore., and brings a spirits-forward approach to craft cocktails.

"His spirit knowledge is very good," says Skip Adams, the Windsor Court's food and beverage director. "He builds cocktails from the inside out." This means a focus on balancing base spirits with liqueurs and spirited seasonal shrubs rather than simple syrups.

Ryan will manage the lobby-located Cocktail Bar, as well as the hotel's Polo Club Lounge and Le Salon, each of which will have a distinct list to refl ect the Windsor Court's cocktail barrel-aging program, as well as a line of tiki drinks and beer cocktails.

"We want our guests to fully experience the global cocktail movement" within the hotel, says Skip.

And by the end of March, he says, the entire cocktail list will have been written by Ryan. "It will be his," Skip says.

Ian is back…behind the stick at Dominique's on Magazine, which opened in early March. Lush planters and hydroponic gardens in the restaurant courtyard mean that Ian will have fresh produce and herbs (including eight varieties of mint) to play with. He kicked off the program in December with a leisurely infusion of satsumas in Donner-Peltier's locally-made ORYZA rice vodka (around the same time that he was featured in a GQ photo spread with other statewide winners of Bombay Sapphire's "Most Imaginative Bartender" contest).

And so is Ian…Parr, who's now the bar director at Maximo's Italian Grill (after a long tenure at Bar UnCommon and MiLa's bar). Drawing on a deep knowledge of the classics, he's written a fresh list of cocktails for Maximo's that often switch in premium Italian spirits (GranGala orange liqueur, for instance, instead of Grand Marnier in a layered coffee drink). I look forward to trying his "Piña e Quina," a dry gin martini that gets its name from pineapple juice and cinchona-fl avored Cocchi Americano wine. On Wednesday nights, you'll get it (as well as all cocktails, beer and wine) at half-price.

Another Alchemy Lounge pop-up. The details are sketchy, but I hear that Alchemy Lounge (the brains behind last summer's epic bottled Pop Shop) will pop up again on April 16 at Faubourg Wines. Alchemy Lounge co-founders Steve Yamada (Tivoli and Lee) and Sam Kane (Serendipity), along with Chris Hannah (French 75) and Brian Adee (Loa Bar), will run this cocktail pop-up, with local caterer Open Sesame providing the food. The theme is "New Orleans Classics, Reimagined" and will include a Ramos Gin Fizz Egg Cream.

Tivoli and Lee opens. The transition from the Why Not? pop-up to a locally-sourced Southern bistro is as smooth as it gets when you're retaining Chef Mike Nirenberg in the kitchen, and the dynamic team of head bartender Kimberly Patton- Bragg and assistant barkeep Steve Yamada behind the stick. From Kim and Steve, we can expect to see seasonal classics and specialties, an American whiskey-driven list, and a rotating selection of bottled, carbonated cocktails.

Asian cocktails. Word is that Christine Jeanine Nielsen, who's at Sainte Marie these days, is also developing the cocktail program for the soon-toopen Lucky Rooster (brought to us by restaurateur Warren Chapoton, Chef Neil Swidler and wine impresario Joe Briand). Christine will craft cocktails to match the Asian street cuisine.

Locally brewed mixer. There's a new carbonated mixer in town-SinMaker Plus, made locally by NOLA Beverage Group (the company is based in Baton Rouge). I haven't yet tried it, but SinMaker Plus is meant to pair with spirits as well as beer, and company recipes include a berried whiskey drink that's topped with SinMaker (basically, use it anywhere you would use 7-Up). Find SinMaker on draft up and down Bourbon Street, as well as at Eiffel Society, Rock and Sake, and the Bulldog.

The Northwest Elixir. This cocktail, written by Tito Thomas at Ralph's on the Park, references High West's geography, as well as the healing reputation of drinking vinegars, or shrubs. (Virgin shrubs are usually made by macerating cut fruit, then stirring vinegar and sugar into the captured juices.)

Here, the apple shrub is Pok Pok Som, a brand developed from Chef Andy Ricker's Thai restaurants. Apple is said to be the strongest fl avor of the line (which includes tamarind, pineapple, raspberry), and it does have a mildly funky aroma, but on the palate it's smoothly sour, cider-like, and brings a silky texture to Tito's cocktail.

Even better: the apple shrub brings out rye's fruity qualities, actually enhancing the spirit and letting it run free.

[Where Y'At Staff/Provided Photo]

Northwest Elixir

Written by Tito Thomas at Ralph's on the Park

• 9 ounces Pok Pok Som apple drinking vinegar

• 4 ounces High West Double Rye

• 4 dashes Angostura bitters

Swirl together in an ice-fi lled shaker, strain into a lowball glass, and fi nish with green apple orbs. Serves 1.

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