Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Tale of a Cocktail

Le Mixeur is grateful to be part of a new blogging project for this year's "Tales of the Cocktail," which will be July 16-20 in New Orleans at the Hotel Monteleone. In this project, many of the top cocktail bloggers from around the world (plus Le Mixeur) will be previewing each of the events scheduled for this year's festival.

We have already completed a preview of Gary Regan and LeNell Smothers' presentation, "Essential Guide to American Whiskey," and the date of its publication s not determined yet. When it is published on the Tales Blog, we will also post it in this space.

We also plan to have a preview of David Wondrich and Allen Katz's presentation, "The Flowing Bowl," ready to be published on the 15th of May on both blogs.

Who knows? perhaps we will do more.

In honor of our involvement in Tales of the Cocktail 2008, we submit here an old family story and the unveiling of a forgotten cocktail from classic New Orleans. We are not sure who wrote this tale, or the validity of some of its claims, but we have no reason to doubt its authenticity. Enjoy...

"There was a tall Acadian, goes by the name Edmond, lived in the nineteenth century in the little nook of wood right where the Nepisiguit River flows into Chaleur Bay. Edmond was over six and half foot tall, very thin, strong. His family been there in that wood since 1714. Thrice great grandfather to Edmond, Pierre, went there first. Pierre sensed trouble when Treaty of Uetrecht got signed, never did like French and English battles over the land, never get along with others in the Richiboctou, was scorned for taking up with Mi'kmaq woman. The Mi'kmaq woman and him left on foot away from this village until they got far from village enough to not know where it was, found them a spot to settle.

They had children, never spoke of Richiboctou. From time to time other wanderers and Mi'kmaq come through, some stayed. A little camp grew there. No one who came to the camp ever spoke of the outside world.

By the time Edmond come along, no one in camp ever knew of outside world, and no new wanderers come around for years. The people thinned out to just a few, Edmond was only child to his parents, and when they died and others died, Edmond was only one left in camp. Edmond figured he'd stay in camp and die there, and this was pretty OK with him.

In winter of 1884 traveler come through the camp for first time probably 20 years. Name was Jean. Came from Beaubassin. He stays with Edmond for a few days, probably four, tells Edmond all about what happens to Acadians, about wars between British and French, about Great Upheaval. Jean's family gone to Louisiana during Great Upheaval, settled there, did very well. Now Jean was back in Acadia, in Beaubassin, likes to take walks.

Jean tells Edmond about Louisiana, Edmond likes what he hears from Jean. He decides he's going there in a month when it gets warmer and food will be grown enough for harvest for the trip.

So one month later Edmond takes apples, turnips, potatoes, satchel of nettle beer he brews, and bushel of field mint to keep his stomach right and for insect bites. He start walking.

And this is what we know for a while. Next thing we know, Edmond arrived at New Orleans one night. Walked into Old Absinthe House, stood at the bar, said nothing. Only a few people there that night. After some time Edmond points at a bottle on the bar, says what's that, bartender says that's something pretty new it's Benedictine. He pours Edmond a glass and Edmond likes that pretty good.

Edmond's satchel of nettle beer is all gone, but Edmond did not drink it all. Says he traded it, man named Gus, in Pennsylvania, for jug of rye. Edmond still has the rye with him and gives it to bartender to pour. The bottle is plain but Edmond says they call it Michter's. The others at the place that night, not so sure about that.

Bartender pours Edmond some Absinthe with just a little shaved ice and water. Edmond sips this and gets an odd look. He thinks a bit, takes the glass and sits in corner for a while, watches bartender close, sees what he does. After some time Edmond comes back to the bar, tells all about the camp at Chaleur Bay, the wanderer from Beaubassin, the Great Upheaval. The others they realize the upheaval been going on now for Edmond.

He takes out from his pouch some strawberries, puts them on the bar, then a branch of rosemary. They ask him where he get these things, Edmond says he hopped a train – never seen one before – to Tennessee. It stopped, he sees little red berries growing from the side of the tracks, a man on the train with him says grab some of those they are good to eat so he hops down and picks as many as he can before train is leaving. The rosemary, Edmond do not recall where he got that.

Edmond he takes out the field mint be brought from Acadia, still looking pretty good. He walks behind the bar and the bartender is OK with this. Edmond drops a couple of these strawberries in a glass and some rosemary, he mashes them up pretty hard. Then he puts in the mint, mashes it too, only much more gentle with this. He pours in some absinthe, some Benedictine, his rye. He puts in some ice, shakes it all up, pours it back into the same glass.

Bartender takes a sip and says that this is good, but this drink is better to strain, with clean ice, and a special thing to add and he shows Edmond his bottle of Peychauds. Edmond sniffs that, nods. Bartender makes another drink the same way but with the Peychauds, strains it over clean ice, adds some soda. Hands it to Edmond. He nods and sits down with it and sips it slow.

Little while later Edmond gathers his things, leaves the rye there, says so long, goes out the door. Edmond has to even bend his neck to pass under the door.

Later, Marquis from down the road come in, asked bartender what's new and good. Bartender makes him Edmond's drink, Marquis says he likes it what's it called, bartender says it's called a Tall Acadian.

And that is how we got that drink. And Edmond never came back to Old Absinthe House."

Today, we make this drink as such:


1 large strawberry, halved
sprig of rosemary
6 mint leaves
1 1/2 oz rye (Sazerac 6 year if possible)
1 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz lime
1/4 oz Absinthe
4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

Muddle the strawberries, rosemary well. Add mint and bitters and muddle gently. add remaining ingredients plus ice, shake. Strain into hi ball glass filled with crushed ice. Stir, top with splash of soda. Garnish with halved strawberry and an orange twist.

(dear reader: the preceding story was a work of fiction, and not meant to be taken seriously. the drink, however, is real, and can be had, along with many others, at Le Mixeur Quatre)

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