New cocktail book is the Cure for tired New Orleans cocktail recipes

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Even the inside cover of “Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix Them”, Neal Bodenheimer and Emily Timberlake’s gorgeous new cocktail book reminded me why Crescent City is my favorite place in the world to have a drink.

This inside cover is a map of some of the city’s most important watering holes, restaurants and live music venues. For those lucky enough to know New Orleans, it’s a map of the pleasures remembered and those yet to be explored; for those who have yet to eat, drink and explore this happy and sad city, this is a cartographic list of things to do, which the book later complements with a “Cocktail Bucket List of New -Orleans”.

The map captures something of the spirit of the book, which is not just a celebration of Cure, one of the best cocktail bars in the country—a perennial James Beard nominee that won Best Bar Program in 2018—but a celebration of its community and city. Many books teach readers about cocktails through the lens of the bar they represent and the drink recipes created by their mixologists. Far fewer also generously amp up their city and their neighbors (and nominal competitors).

Bodenheimer almost had to be tied down and trained to write it.

To be fair, it’s not like the man doesn’t have a few other projects on his hands. With Cure, which he opened in 2009 after returning to his native Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, Bodenheimer owns Cane & Table in the French Quarter, and during the pandemic while he was writing he has opened Dauphine’s (a New Orleans-inspired in Washington, D.C.), as well as Val’s (a taqueria and agave liquor bar in the same neighborhood as Cure) and Peychaud’s (a cocktail bar in the courtyard of a French Quarter building that once housed Antoine Peychaud, the inventor of red bitters which now give a touch of liquorice to countless cocktails). And he’s also a partner in Tales of the Cocktail, the annual bar conference that draws thousands of industry folks and dedicated drinkers to the city every summer.

“Which makes it sound like I’m…crazy…but it wasn’t supposed to be like this,” Bodenheimer says, noting how the pandemic has played hell with so many plans and messed up so many schedules. original project. But he knew he would never finish the book without help, and Timberlake, a longtime food writer and editor based in Oakland, Calif., proved to be the perfect partner in the project. Their calls and planning sessions for the book helped keep him sane during the pandemic when so much seemed to fall apart.

Bodenheimer knew he “didn’t want to do another bar-bar book, because so many bars have done bar books that I think it’s a pretty comprehensive genre.” And I also didn’t want to do a vanity project…. I want to talk about what Cure is and what it does, but I want to put it in the larger context of drinking in New Orleans.

Thus, the book provides many original drinks to Cure and the many creative mixologists who have worked there over the years, but it also provides the history of many classic New Orleans cocktails and recipes for iterations and riffs. on drinks such as Le French 75 and Pimm’s Cup, which are not the original drinks of New Orleans but which, through specific bars (Arnaud’s and the Napoleon House, respectively), have become indelibly associated with the city.

Exploring the historical component of drinking in New Orleans required wrestling with the ghost of Stanley Clisby Arthur, the journalist whose 1937 book, “Famous New Orleans Drinks And How to Mix ‘Em” inspired the Cure book subtitle.

Clisby Arthur’s book has helped establish an ancient history of cocktails and New Orleans’ place in it. The problem with the story he established is that much of it is what Bodenheimer describes with an expansive sense of cattle dung.

In the introduction to his book, for example, Clisby Arthur writes of New Orleans: “It was here that your most modern American drink, the cocktail, was born and received its playful name.” number of false stories about the birth of the word “cocktail”, before insisting that Antoine Peychaud himself was responsible for the name via a bastardization of the French word “coquetier”, which referred to a style of egg cup in which the apothecary once served doses of brandy enhanced with his soothing bitters.

Unfortunately, the word “cocktail” is now known to have appeared in the press while Peychaud was still in childbirth.

And yet, in Clisby Arthur’s book also appear drinks such as Sazerac — New Orleans’ quintessential cocktail and the city’s official cocktail since 2008 — the Old square, Louisiana Cocktailthe Ramos Gin Fizz, the Roffignac (see recipe below) and several absinthe-based drinks. (The spirit, which was illegal in the United States for nearly a century largely due to misconceptions about its alleged herbal dangers, has had a profound impact on cocktails and drinking style. from the city.)

“We used ‘Famous New Orleans Drinks, and How To Mix ‘Em’ as a guide when we opened Dauphine’s,” says Bodenheimer, which means he ended up spending a lot of time with the book.. “So I have this deep appreciation for him, because he really created this New Orleans drinking canon. … Without him, I don’t think New Orleans would hold this high place in the drinking world. At the same time, I look at some of his story and I’m like, “Man, you’re really doing this.” But it’s also kind of perfect, because it’s also like the bar world. There are a lot of people who fake it until they make it.

Thankfully, the Cure team has spent a lot of time refining and revitalizing the recipes – the book’s precise specifications for the Sazerac deliver Peychaud’s preferred amount to the drop – and developing their own terrific drinks. In this development process, says Bodenheimer, Cure has long followed a very specific hierarchy of considerations: “How does it taste? How does it taste? How does it taste? How does he smell? What does it look like?”

It’s not necessarily a recipe for success in an Instagram-driven world, he acknowledges, but over time it seems to have worked for the bar. “With Cure, there was our desire to do what we wanted to do, and then there was what New Orleans had always done” with cocktails and their curation, he says. “Together it kind of created this magic, where people wanted to take the journey with us and see where we were going to go.”

Scale up and get a printable desktop version of the recipe here.

This improvement on an old New Orleans drink offers a more balanced version of what was originally a very sweet drink. The old recipe from Stanley Clisby Arthur’s classic cocktail book called for whiskey, but this version from the Cure bar’s new cocktail book uses Darroze 8 Year Old Les Grands Assemblages Bas-Armagnac, a French grape brandy, for the base. Co-author Neal Bodenheimer notes that the recipe works “surprisingly well with any number of unaged spirits”, but doesn’t like it with the original whiskey. Raspberry can be refrigerated for several months and can be added to sparkling water, lemonade or other beverages.

Storage: Refrigerate shrub for up to 3 months.

  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • Ice
  • 1 1/2 ounces bas-armagnac (or your favorite spirit; see main note)
  • 1 ounce raspberry
  • 2 to 3 ounces of sparkling water, to top it off
  • Fresh raspberries, for garnish (optional)
  • Sprig of mint, to garnish (optional)

Make the shrub: In a blender, combine the raspberries, water, sugar and vinegar and blend over high heat until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, transfer to a bottle and refrigerate until use. You should get about 1 1/4 cups (enough for about 12 glasses).

Prepare the drink: Fill a Collins, tall goblet or punch glass with ice.

Fill a shaker with ice, then add the Armagnac and raspberry. Shake to cool, about 15 seconds, then strain into the glass and cover with sparkling water. Garnish with raspberries and a sprig of mint, if desired, and serve.

Adapted from “Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix Them”, by Neal Bodenheimer and Emily Timberlake (Abrams, 2022)

Tested by Mr. Carrie Allan.

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