Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sazerac Watch: Sweet, Dry and Just Right

As has been my tradition in New Orleans, I've tested a few restaurants on their Sazerac performance this year, and the results have been pretty damn sorry. Abysmal, in fact.

First off, apologies on these lousy pictures. Taking pictures of cocktails in dark restaurants ain't easy. My first failure was served to me at Jacques-Imo's Cafe, a very loose-limbed, funky and excellent restaurant in the Uptown neighborhood, right next to the famous Maple Tree Bar. They must have sloshed the simple syrup in out of a bucket, it was so tooth-achingly sweet. And I can't be sure, but I think they shook my Sazerac. It foamed like a rabid dog. (See above.)

The second disaster was at Coop's Place, a dive-like place on Decatur that serves excellent downhome New Orleans cuisine. To avoid my Jacques-Imo experience, I cautioned the bartender not to make the drink too sweet. "Why would it be sweet?" he replied. "There's no sugar in it."

Say what? I reminded him of the little matter of the sugar cube that's part of the recipe. He said they didn't make them that way; just put in a drop of syrup. OK. Worth a shot. But his Sazerac (below) was too dry and arid. It was missing a major component, and was quite difficult to drink.

But all was made well later that night at a party, when I had not one but two excellent Sazeracs, beautifully balanced and with a surface as still as an icy pond. Of course, I had to rely on a TOTC cocktail pro to do the trick.

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