Though other local bartenders have played with this heritage drink, it's been brought back with certainty by chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto, who will have rotating ratafias on hand at Restaurant R'evolution.
One way to make ratafia is to steep your favorite fruit (lightly bruised to let out pulp and juice) in brandy. After about 2 months, blend with simple syrup, double-strain and bottle-age for another 6 months. But ratafia won't keep forever, so, like the fresh fruit on which it's based, it does have a season.
On the Bar R'evolution menu, ratafias are used in different ways - the persimmon acts as a honeyed sweetener when paired with gin and Aperol in the Lorepa cocktail; in the Belle Epoque, camellia ratafia brings in a floral element to a bourbon-based version of a French 75.
I'd never tried ratafia before, though, so I wanted it straight. With the persimmon out of reach, I moved up a season and got a shot of the ratafia based on loquat, an Asian citrus fruit that ripens locally in the springtime, and, in its brandied state, has an intensely spirited aroma.
The flavor transforms dramatically on the palate - vibrant and complex, incredibly smooth, silky-bodied with the same sweet fig and softly sour notes you find in aged balsamic (in its raw state, loquat is said to taste like sour cherry).
In a ratafia, the citrus blossoms best at room temperature, but I bowed to this current season, with its soggy 100-degree days, and had my loquat ratafia on the rocks.
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Bar R'evolution at the Royal Sonesta, 777 Bienville, 553.2277