Tiki Tolteca pops up at Felipe's. Bar manager Nathan Dalton gave me a fi rst look at their upstairs tiki bar, which began its pop-ups May 14 and has broadened the genre. "We'll use tiki's big bold fl avors, spices, tropical fruit, and mysterious blends of different ingredients, and translate it to drinks" based on Latin American spirits like pisco, mezcal, tequila and cachaça, as well as rye whiskey, says Nathan. The idea for the pop-up, he says, comes from Felipe's bartender Richard "Trader Dick" O'Dell, a tiki enthusiast (bartender Danielle Maurin also contributed a drinks recipe).
The drinks list plays up the mystery and storytelling legacy of tiki cocktails, and there will be plenty of rum (in the classic Hurricane, traditional and frozen daiquiris, as well as tiki expert Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's own doublerummed Ancient Mariner). The Latin American infl uence comes in concoctions like Nathan's lush Last Guinea Pig in Cuzco, based on passionfruit syrup and Peruvian pisco, a fruity, soft grape brandy that's long lent itself to tiki drinks (Trader Vic himself used it in dozens of recipes). Another signature, Richard's Escorpion Punch, is a lavish pour of tequila and mezcal in a clay cazuela (meant to be sipped through straws), at the center of which is a volcano-shaped cone of ice that's flamed tableside. "Tiki is about atmosphere, about being over the top," says Nathan. "The idea is to come in and be transported to a tropical place."
Tivoli & Lee's build-your-own bloody mary bar. In tandem with their new lush weekend brunches, Tivoli & Lee now offers a Bloody Mary bar setup. Start at your table with two ounces of a spirit—the house recommends their own chorizoinfused tequila or dry gin steeped in mizuna greens, as well as Cathead vodka. I chose the gin, as mizuna adds an earthy, peppery base to what would be a full glass of fresh tomato juice (you also have the option of Zing Zang mix). Then customize your cocktail with lemon and olive juices, pickled vegetables, seasonings (hot sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire), bacon stirrers, and cubed cheeses (the pepper jack is especially worthy). Paired with maple-grazed chicken-andwaffl e bites, and fi ne company (Kimberly Patton Bragg and Steve yamada behind the stick), your signature Bloody Mary is a worthy toast to the day. Bourbon "O" Bar. Expert Cheryl Charming is now managing the Bourbon Orleans' party-centric bar (check my blog, In the Drink, for more details).
The Roffignac's Tale. A dashing French count, a mysterious German syrup, grapevine-eating insects, and a long-shuttered New Orleans restaurant fi gure into the Roffignac cocktail, which I tried for the fi rst time at the Little Gem Saloon during Jazz Fest. Though its origins are elusive, it seems to be a pretty accurate rendition: your choice of cognac or rye, raspberry syrup, and soda. Whether you go with cognac or rye whiskey, authentically speaking, depends on whether you think that Count Louis Philippe (that's Mayor Joseph Roffi gnac to us, as he was New Orleans' mayor from 1820 to 1828) invented this highball. If he did—and I've found no proof of it—then cognac would be the logical
choice, as he would have likely favored a French spirit. (Roffi gnac died in 1846 at the French estate left to him by a rich aunt.)
It would be another 20 years before phylloxera (bugs that literally sucked the life from grapevines) began to destroy European, and especially French, vineyards. In the decades the plants took to recover, American bars that couldn't get cognac used rye instead, most famously in the Sazerac.
At the height of this cognac shortage, in 1876, Maylié's restaurant opened at Poydras and Dryades and began serving what would be their signature cocktail, the Roffi gnac. Given the timing, it's very likely that Maylié's made them with rye whiskey.
If you're still debating, consider the raspberry syrup called for here: it's actually a raspberry-vinegar shrub. The confusion comes from chroniclers misspelling what should have been "himbeeressig," or German for raspberry vinegar syrup. While I love rye, it might be too sharp and spicy against this tangy fruit shrub, further sparked by the soda. Cognac adds a soft suppleness instead, threading in orange blossoms and sugar-glazed grapes. It may be the most authentic drink on a list already steeped in classic variations.
Lucky Rooster celebrated Sherry Day…on May 26, when the new Asian eatery hosted a sherry tasting. Sommelier and Lucky Rooster GM Joe Briand styles of sherry. and sommelier John Mitchell (of Stella!) presented more than a dozen different "It's a wine category that deserves a lot more attention," says Joe. "John and I are especially interested in obscure, small-production sherries." The night offered an insight into Lucky Rooster's drinks program, written by bar manager Christine Jeanine Nielsen, set to feature a sherry flight, fi ve sherries by the glass, and several sherry-based cocktails. Lucky Rooster's focus on Asian street food and snacks makes it a uniquely "approachable setting for serious wines," says Joe.
A Byrrh-based cocktail at Coquette. Vincent Heitz has recently become Coquette's bar manager; try his Arawak, which pairs French-based Byrrh (an aged blend of supple, sweet red wines, spirit-macerated grape must, and quinine bark) with Haitian rhum agricole, ginger syrup and lime, making for a softly tart and ginger-spicy sipper. It's a a notion gaining traction with vermouth's comeback. skilled example of a cocktail based on fortifi ed wine, Milkfish debuted its cocktail program. For its inaugural cocktail menu, Milkfi sh owner and chef Cristina Quackenbush tapped Lindsay Allday to write a list of tropical, Filipino-infl ected cocktails showcasing exotic fruits and base spirits made mostly in-house.
The latter distinction hints at Lindsay's ongoing work with High Hat Cafe's Ryan Iriarte (she splits her time between both bars). "Ryan helped me refine my bartending skills; he's guided me into the science of it," says Lindsay. Her own list features some familiar styles: a caramel-malty Filipino lager pairs with the soft, low-acid, lemony-orange juice of calamansi fruit to make a shandy; that same fruit juice lengthens champagne in a mimosa (topped by Ryan's own lemongrass bitters).
A classic Philippine shaved ice and milk dessert gets a boozy remake in Lindsay's Big Kid Halo-Halo; in the Gin Salabat, fresh, sugar-brewed ginger tea brings out the aromatics in the housemade, Filipino-style gin (think: vibrant cardamom, star anise, juniper). Purple yam (ube) jam, which has a pleasing toasted fruitiness, backs my favorite drink of the bunch: Lindsay's Ube Kapre. Here, she spins a purple yam syrup with coconut vodka and the green mango shrub to make a lush, complex and refreshing sipper. As she continues to stretch at Milkfi sh, I'd love to see what she does with Batavia arrack (an Asian sugar and rice distillate) or even bourbon.
Read Anne Berry's weekly cocktail blog, In The Drink, at WhereYat.com.
Bourbon "O" Bar at the Bourbon Orleans: 717 Orleans St.
Coquette: 2800 Magazine St.
Felipe's Taqueria: located Uptown and in the French Quarter, where Tiki Tolteca pops up Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings.
301 N. Peters St. (French Quarter); 6215 S. Miro St. (Uptown) Little Gem Saloon: 445 S. Rampart St.
Lucky Rooster: 515 Baronne St.
Milkfish: 2401 Burgundy St.