When I am feeling a bit fatigué, I ring up my agent and book a trip down to New Orleans for a weekend-long respite (I love the Delta flights from La Guardia that get me down to the Crescent City early Friday morning and back Sunday evening). I don’t make the jaunt to party or drink myself silly or wear beads or get sloppy and such on Bourbon Street. Je deteste ces choses, n’est-ce pas? I love New Orleans for its sublime southern-by-way-of-France charms, from the incredible dining options to the shops along Magazine Street to the antiques outposts on Royal Street to the museums and architecture. Plus, everyone is so darn nice in Nola. Even the gal at the Avis rent-a-car counter and the garçon who hauled the suitcases up to my stunning aerie high atop the Loews New Orleans Hotel overlooking the Mississippi. In NYC, I would never find such accommodating folk, zut alors!
And while I said above that I don’t visit New Orleans for its booze, I do like a good Sazerac, the city’s signature cocktail. There’s no better place to sip and tipple this supple delicacy than at the Loews New Orleans’ divine Swizzle Stick Bar, a member of the Commander’s Palace Family of Restaurants run by the fabled Brennan family. After washing up, I take a seat at the bar and greet my pal Lu Brow, the effervescent mixologist, who whips me up a cool cocktail and pronto. See below for the Sazerac recipe from Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan’s colorful-chic In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks book, one of most favorite hostess/host gifts.
After a Sazerac or three (OK, I lied, I do like to partake of the libations in New Orleans), I venture into the Brennans’ Café Adelaide—named for the late and kooky-glamorous Adelaide Brennan whose motto “sparkle plenty” says it all—where chef Chris Lusk always takes terrific care of me and my guests. First off, the space looks like a million bucks—like a Dorothy Draper-designed stage set where you half expect Busby Berkeley and The Rockettes and the Ziegfeld girls to come sashaying around the room as you dive into the stellar eats: Try the splendid shrimp and tasso corndogs with pickled okra and chicory greens or the salt and pepper shrimp grits or the cedar plank-roasted cobia with Prosciutto-fried oysters and a trip of beans ragout. Glorious!
Apparently, Aunt Adelaide was the definition of glamorous—and naughty—and her namesake restaurant perfectly captures her larger-than-life persona. Maybe she and I are related.
I am smitten.
“Waiter. Another Sazerac, and don’t dilly-dally, s’il-vous plait.”
(Merci aux Madames Brennan)
1 tablespoon Herbsaint
1 ½ ounces rye whiskey, preferably Old Overholt or Sazerac rye
½ teaspoon simple syrup
4 to 5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lemon twist with the white pitch removed, for garnish
Pour the Herbsaint into a rocks glass and swirl to coat the inside. Discard any excess Herbsaint. Fill the glass with ice to chill. Combine the rye, simple syrup and Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Cover and shake vigorously. Discard the ice from the glass and strain the shaker mixture into the glass. Rub the rim with the lemon twist, add to the drink and serve immediately.