In 1978, a kung fu flick followed the making of a Shaolin master, who then created a special martial arts class for beginners: the 36th chamber. Remember this the next time you ask for a drink at Lucky Rooster, the much buzzed-about Asian fusion spot with a killer drinks list.
Head bartender Christine Jeanine Nielsen crafted the regular menu, offering an Asian twist on the classics (Old Fashioneds made with Japanese whiskey) and seasonal, recognizable styles, like sherry cobblers and a beer cocktail currently built on China's Tsingtao (and named for the Wu Tang Clan's Ghost Face Killah).
You can also customize housemade sodas (cardamom, strawberry-Thai basil) with a ladder of booze (I'm partial to the sultry cardamom cola spiked with spiced rum).
But you, Grasshopper, should ask for their hidden "36 Chambers" drinks list, which debuted last week for Tales of the Cocktail.
"It's been a plan of mine to have an ever-evolving 'secret menu' since before we even opened," Christine Jeanine says. "On this menu, we get to have a bit more fun, and feature spirits that might be off the beaten path for most consumers. It's the equivalent of asking for the 'real' Chinese menu."
The whole bar staff helped create "36 Chambers" (all the drink names come from Lucky Rooster's general manager and wine expert Joe Briand), and it features exotic and high-proof spirits, and mind-bending cocktails.
You'll find an inverted whiskey-wine sour (here, tonic wine is the base, with a rye float); gin paired with chamomile and cherry liqueurs; a tiki-like doubling of base spirits (gin and rye; gin and rum); and a shot that softens overproof gin with cardamom cola syrup and the extract of Gotu Kola, a tropical plant used in ancient Asian remedies (it's rumored to boost collagen and lower blood pressure, among other things).
From "36 Chambers" I had La Femme Akita, written by bartender Ryan Asay. It's a plummy shake of sake and pisco and Asian-herbed white vermouth with a dry, long and clean finish; a grapefruit rinse and citric acid give it brightness, and, I like to think, another step in my own training.
Lucky Rooster, 515 Baronne, 504.529.5825
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