In recent months, I visited three of the top cocktail dens in Manhattan and asked for a De La Louisiane and thus bewildered the bartender. I then followed-up with a request for a Saratoga and got the same blank look. (I won't say which bars; I don't want to embarrass anyone.)
I know what you're saying: I'm asking too much. These drinks are too obscure. But, no, I'm not asking too much. These places set themselves up as the keepers of the cocktail flame, masters of mixed-drink history. The De La Louisiane was invented in 1938 in cocktail capital New Orleans, and has been much blogged about of late. It was thought enough of to be included in The Museum of the American Cocktail's Pocket Recipe Book. The Saratoga reigned supreme a century or so ago and was significant enough to be included in David Wondrich's new book "Imbibe!," of which every serious bartender I know has a copy. These drinks should ad least provoke a glimmer of recognition from the man behind a high-end bar.
So, as a service to mankind (at least the kind of men that prepare and/or enjoy drinks), I am making a plea to bartenders to study this libation and add it to their repertoire asap.
De La Louisiane
.75 oz. rye
.75 oz. sweet vermouth
.75 oz. Benedictine
3 dashes absinthe
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Still over ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.
And don't forget it!