Like most New Orleanians, the NoDef team enjoys a good cocktail … or two, or three. The great thing about living in the Big Easy is that we really don't need any excuses to drink, but that doesn't stop us from finding new reasons all the same. (Cue today's Bourbon Festival and this month's absinthe celebration, for instance.) This Friday (3.24) is National Cocktail Day, the holiest of days for all fans of being spirited away. Today, mix up all-star cocktails with these recipes culled from NoDef interviews with NOLA's finest bartenders from years past.
Tommy's Margarita – Cure
This recipe is a classic Margarita, pioneered at Tommy's Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles. This variation is now served during happy hour at Cure.
- 2 oz. Blanco Tequila
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz. agave syrup
- 1 lime
Shake and serve up or on the rocks. The salt is up to you.
Carnival Punch – NOLA Restaurant
Not just for Mardi Gras season, this fruity punch is the perfect cooling libation for drinking all day. Courtesy of the bar team from Emeril's French Quarter establishment.
- 1 1/2 oz. pineapple infused vodka
- 1/2 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
- 1/4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Ginger beer, as needed
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice then add the vodka, PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur, lemon juice and shake well. Strain over ice into a rocks glass, top with the ginger beer and garnish with the lime twist.
Mexican Firing Squad – Cane & Table
Charles H. Baker Jr. found this drunk at the Cucaracha bar in Mexico City during the 1930s. The Decatur neo-tiki outpost offers their take on the classic cocktail. If you're craving tequila but want something other than a Margarita, then this is an easy fix.
- 2 oz. Siembra Azul Blanco
- 1 oz. fresh lime
- 1/2 oz. Grenadine
- 3 lashings of Angostura bitters
- 1 oz. soda water
Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin and shake briskly without ice, then pour contents into an ice-filled glass. Serve with a lime wheel.
The Last Word – CureCo
CureCo's Kirk Estopinal notes that The Last Word is one of the most popular craft cocktails out there. Although the drink was eventually created during Prohibition, the resurgence is a recent phenomena sparked when Seattle bartender Murray Stenson of Seattle’s Zig Zag Café found the recipe in an old book.
- 3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
- 3/4 oz. Lime
- 3/4 oz. Maraschino
- 3/4 oz. Gin
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain and serve up.
Mai Tai – Cane & Table
"Maita'i" is Tahitian for "very good." Legend has it that the first person to sample the cocktail was a Polynesian who shouted this joyful phrase aloud. Nick Detrich, the recently-departed master behind Cane & Table, offers up his own take on the original.
- 1 oz. Wray & Nephew Overproof
- 1 oz. El Dorado 8 year
- 3/4 fresh Lime
- 1/2 dry curaçao
- 1⁄4 orgeat
Shake / snifter / mint bouquet.
Strawberry Fields – Emeril's New Orleans
Emeril's New Orleans has been nominated for several James Beard awards for their wold-famous wine collection (10,000 bottles and counting), but their bar team is fixing up some refreshing adult beverages in anticipation of the summer heat.
- 1 1/2 oz. strawberry purée
- 1 oz. Aperol
- 1 oz. simple syrup
- 1 oz. red wine
- 1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 basil leaves
Muddle 3 basil leaves in a cocktail shaker. Add Aperol, simple syrup, red wine, lemon juice and a scoop of ice; shake well to combine. Strain into a pilsner glass over fresh ice and garnish with the remaining sprig of basil.
Cynar Julep – Bar Deville
Not just for Derby Day festivities – one of the signature summer cocktails is the Mint Julep. NoDef called upon Chicago's Bar Deville for this classic recipe.
- 1 oz. Cynar
- 1 oz. Matusalem Classico Rum
- 1/4 oz. Rich 2:1 Demerara Syrup
Add ingredients to a Julep cup filled with crushed ice. Stir until frost forms on the outside. Garnish with enough mint to cover the top. Perhaps so much mint that adding a straw becomes a good idea.
- 32 oz. can tomato juice
- 4 oz. apple cider vinegar
- 8 oz. dark rum (Meyer's will do, use El Dorado 8 if available)
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 3 Thai chilis, seeded and sliced
- Tablespoon of allspice
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme
Combine all ingredients–sans rum–in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Add rum and pulse to incorporate. Serve with pickled sweet peppers and pickled onions.