What’s for dessert? Try pecan rye

00:00 November 23, 2012
By: David Vicari
[Courtesy of Anne Berry]

It took you longer to make this week's pecan pie than it did for mixologist Christine Jeanine Nielsen to infuse a batch of rye whiskey with the aromatic nut. That's because she poached the whiskey-soaked pecans, sealed tight, in a sous vide bath, locking in their flavor with gently rolling heat.

(Christine, manager of Cocktail Bar, returned the boozy pecans to the Grill Room kitchen to use in a dessert; she also applies sous-vide to make other custom spirits, including blueberry and kumquat tequilas.)

This time, she uses the infused rye to great effect in the NOLA-Ease, a Manhattan variation that references the classic's ongoing battle between rye and bourbon enthusiasts.

Straight rye whiskey is drier and more sharply fruity, and tends to lend a Manhattan more backbone; purists like Frank Bruni will say that if your Manhattan is too sweet, it's not the vermouth's fault - it's because you're using bourbon.

What Christine's pecan rye does, then, is mimic bourbon's smoky, charred qualities without adding any extra sweetness (think of the difference between strawberry juice and strawberry syrup).

In the NOLA-Ease, this lets the rye keep its balance with the sweet vermouth (here, a complex and raisiny Punt e Mes) and cherry liqueur. Together, it's a bracing, toasted cocktail with a pucker-dry and long finish.

The right time and place to enjoy it: today, and on one of Cocktail Bar's plush, overstuffed sofas, following a week of cooking, shopping and pecan pies.

Cocktail Bar at the Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier Street, 523.6000

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