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Raising the Bar

Emeril's Evan Baldwin Mixes Up Christmas Drinks



Entering Emeril’s one is immediately enveloped but the distinct drum of happy chatter, and clinking glasses. Servers bustle around in white uniforms. Behind the bar stands Evan Baldwin holding court. With twelve years in the industry, including recent stints at Victory and Maurepas, Baldwin was well qualified to take the helm as Emeril’s new Bar Manager and Cocktail Coordinator five weeks ago. Just in time for Christmas, he took showcased some of the list’s new offerings for NoDef.

 

The holiday cocktails are a mix of old and new, tradition with a twist.

 

The first up was The Moscow Candy Cane, “it is essentially a combination with a vodka base, heavy cream, crème de menthe, crème de cacao, a little confectioners sugar. It is simple but it has a really nice flavor profile that I think people enjoy around the holidays. And I like mint chocolate chip ice cream and that is what it reminds me of” explains Baldwin. The drink has a viridescent quality to it, and is very similar to the sweet enjoyed during the summer as a child, except this one is strong and is definitely for adults. (Besides everyone loves mint around the holidays.)

 

Baldwin moved on to Emeril’s Ol’ Fashioned Holiday, the most popular of the restaurant's holiday cocktails. The bartender describes it as “definitely my favorite cocktail off the holiday menu,” adding “I put a lot of time and effort into the garnish and how I put it together. I took fresh cranberries and simmered them in simple syrup creating a cranberry syrup, at the same time I took the cranberries out and put them in a dehydrator. What I was going for was essentially the texture of a Luxardo cherry in the form of a cranberry but with some sweetness still. And we have toasted walnuts rimming the glass and Nocello which is a walnut liquor in there as well.”  

 

The drink looks simple to enough, but requires vast amounts of prep making it almost a work of art. The drink doesn’t look like your standard old fashioned, and it doesn’t taste like it either. The walnuts lend a nice earthy flavor to the drink, and the sweetness of the cranberries lingers in your mouth after each sip. 

 

After the second drink, Evan danced around like a kid in a candy store. He had just received all his new tools, and couldn’t wait to try them out. As he proudly displayed a new muddler, he discussed his path to the new home at Emeril’s. With advanced degrees in physics and communications, he took the long route in discovering that mixology was his passion. “I started bartending in college, on Bourbon Street, and it was fun, I loved the interaction. When you’re working in a fast pace environment like that the cocktails have very little to do with that, and I did it off and on for a few years. Even when I had a day job, I was just kind of private event bartending on the weekends.”

 

Oddly enough he started his true career in mixology in Phoenix before heading back to NOLA. “I was considering applying to med school at that point; I started the cocktail program over at the Irish House. And then one day I walked into Victory, and basically it was almost like starting from scratch. I mean I had some history and knowledge but as far as execution and technique, the concept of the cocktail and how to build one off the top of your head in seconds really came from there. And from there I did competitions,” Evan got involved with Tales of the Cocktail and became a GQ Magazine and a Bombay Sapphire finalist and Disaronno mixing star. “And I really developed a love, that was when I truly started to study cocktails.”

 

From there, Evan found himself at Boudin, Bourbon & Beer which is a fundraiser put on by the Emeril Lagasse Foundation in November, and became one of their top featured mixologists. The rest, as they say, is history and as Evan bustled about the bar you could see he was a man truly in his element. 

 

Tiny Tim’s Toddy, Rudolph in Central Park, and Emeril’s Holiday eggnog  (recipe below) bulk out the list. A nightcap rounds out the list. Christmas in Cabo is a perfect ending, covered in whipped cream and chili powder with a jolt of espresso. All of the cocktails on the holiday menu will stick around well past Christmas and into the New Year. 

 

Emeril’s Holiday Eggnog 

Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 oz brandy
  • .5oz Creme de cocoa
  • 3.5 oz eggnog

To make, add all ingredients to rocks glass and stir, top with chocolate sprinkles. 

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Contributors

Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde

Photographers


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.

Editor


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt


B. E. Mintz


Stephen Babcock

Published Daily