When Alice and I were exploring New Orleans and the cocktail scene, we barely scratched the surface. There’s just too much to explore and too many drinks to try. Clearly, we need to explore further, but that’s for another time. However, researching cocktails, that’s always good fun. Turns out there’s an epic cocktail that was hidden in plain sight that fully deserves further exploration: La Louisiane!
I shall start with an admission: I’m not a huge rye fan. It’s just not my thing, there’s a funkiness there that disagrees with my delicate sensibilities. Oddly, I do like a dark, funky and smoky peated Scotch, so go figure.
That’s important to state up top as the more traditional version of this calls for rye — but, for obvious reasons, I ditched it. In its place, I substituted a spicy, peppery bourbon. If you’re unsure about the spicy level of your bourbon, drink more! Or, if you want to go full recreation method for ours, we used Eagle Rare 10 (a bourbon I like in cocktails, but by itself, it’s a little much).
Now that our brown booze is out of the way (seriously, go rye if you’re a rye fan — as always, this is a judgement free zone), it’s on to our next two components: sweet vermouth and Benedictine. The original recipe called for equal portions of all three of these (kinda like in the Negroni), but I didn’t think the flavor quite worked. It was a little too sweet, a little unbalanced, just not quite right. So after playing with proportions, I finally hit on what I thought was the tastiest.
Though, if you want to try the original take, go 1:1:1.
To round out all of that awesome, we have (drum roll) bitters and absinthe. We’ve been on a bit of an absinthe kick lately, because the world needs more absinthe drinks. Also, I have a buddy Eric who attempted to break the internet recently (turns out people really like Pokémon) and he recently discovered the Sazerac — I figured he needed another cocktail to add to his repertoire.
Oh, if you’ve read this and you’re just dying to read more about the La Louisiane cocktail, you might see some people talk about an “absinthe rinse.” Those are people who (in my opinion), don’t like absinthe. They fear the green fairy. Don’t fear the fairy. Embrace your inner wiccan. Did I just go too nerdy there? Probably. Still. Absinthe good. Fear not. Put in drink, not just a wee baby rinse. Good? Good.
Now, for all of you wild and crazy people who are ready to try a unique, extra awesome, fantastic cocktail from the 30s that is just growing in popularity (spread the word my friends!), let’s get down with the La Louisiane!
- 2 oz. bourbon (spicy; or rye if you’re going traditional)
- ¾ oz. Bénédictine
- ¾ oz. sweet vermouth (that’d be the red one more often than not)
- Splash of absinthe (more than a few drops, a little less than ¼ oz., tweak to your liking)
- 3 dashes bitters
- Glass type: coupe
- Maraschino cherries
- First things first, get your favorite cocktail stirring glass and stirring stick, no shaking here.
- All booze = no shake.
- Add the bourbon, Bénédictine, sweet vermouth, absinthe and bitters to your glass with ice.
- Until well chilled.
- Pour into your coupe.
- Garnish rakishly with cherries.
- Drink and be amazed.