anyone making sazeracs with absinthe now?
Now that absinthe is available again in the US, has any bar in NO started to make the drink with it again (instead of the usual substitutes)?
If not, where should I seek out the best sazerac in town? I'm going to be in NO this weekend for a wedding...
Actually, the original sazerac called for cognac, rather than rye. It definitely creates a difference in taste.
I'd recommend going to the Library Lounge at the Ritz, particularly when Chris is bartending. I've never had one of his sazeracs, but judging from the quality of his other cocktails, I don't think you could go wrong.
The "X" factor at any bar is the bartender, so ya takes ya chances!
The Library Lounge is pretty much Chris McMillian's baby, so when the bar is open, you can count on seeing him there. It's worth phoning ahead to confirm. (Mr. McMillian also makes superb Ramos Gin Fizzes and Mint Juleps.)
I've had good Sazeracs at The Library Lounge, Arnaud's French 75 bar, Tujaque's, The Carousel Bar, and Galatoire's.
Pravda! (youngish, and borderline-Goth) does stock absinthe, but I can't vouch for the caliber of mixed drinks there. If you're a Saz expert and have a favorite recipe, you might consider printing it out (use a jumbo font, for easy reading in a dim bar) and presenting it to the bartender with a charming smile. (BTW, Pravda's classic absinthe drip may have gone up in price since last summer.)
If you have absinthe at home, you could decant a a couple of ounces into a little glass pharmacy bottle (pack it in your checked luggage) and take it bar-hopping with you. I can't imagine that a good bar would mind using your absinthe in place of Herbsaint. (Assuming they don't stock absinthe, that is.)
.....request that the bartender make your Sazerac without Herbsaint -- then add a 1/4 teaspoon of your own absinthe to the drink when it comes to the table. (I recently met a couple of cocktail experts who never travel without tiny, pocketed bottles of their own bitters!)
1113 Decatur (btw. Ursulines and Gov. Nicholls)
Library Lounge (at the Ritz Carlton Hotel)
921 Canal St. (btw. Dauphine & Burgundy)
Arnaud's French 75 Bar
813 Bienville St. (btw. Bourbon & Dauphine)
823 Decatur (corner of Madison)
The Carousel Lounge (at the Monteleone Hotel)
214 Royal Street (btw. Iberville and Bienville)
209 Bourbon St. (btw. Iberville & Bienville)
I'd have shuddered too! Were you drinking gold leaf?!? YIKES and OUCH!
I'm so used to paying extortionary prices for cocktails in NYC, that N.O.'s prices seem reasonable to me. The Carousel's prices struck me as being in line with those of any decent hotel bar -- between $8-$12, depending on the drink.
I forgot to mention another good Hotel cocktail bar -- the Swizzle Stick Lounge at the Loew's Hotel. It's connected to Cafe Adelaide, another of the Brennan family restaurants.
300 Poydras St. (btw. Tchoupitoulas. & S. Peters)
I just returned from a trip to NO at the end of March (2008), and spent many lovely evenings at both French 75 and the Carousel. Sazeracs at both places run a very reasonable $7 or so. My strong preference, in terms of atmosphere, service, and the drink itself, was French 75.
Sadly, Chris McMillian is no longer at the Library Lounge. We're all eager to see where he turns up next.
Vickib recommends the Sazeracs at Arnaud's French 75 Bar (next door to Arnaud's restaurant), and she's right. The excellent Chris Hannah is making the best Sazeracs in the city right now.
Add the Swizzle Stick Bar and Commander's Palace to the list.
One important factor is which brand of absinthe is being used. The best, for my money, are the ones produced by the distillery T. A. Breaux in France. Breaux, a New Orleanian, is almost singlehandedly responsible for reviving the interest in absinthe, and did all the right research.
re: Rum Runner
I second Rum Runner's endorsement of the Jade absinthes. They're excellent.
If you're just learning about absinthe, do your homework before buying. Educational sites such as The Wormwood Society can help steer you in the right direction.
Too many substandard products are hitting the market, so choose your vendors with care. I like Liqueurs de France, which sells well-crafted, traditional absinthes (including the Jades) sans hype.
I've never ordered a Sazerac at Pravda!, but the bar has an absinthe fountain, and stocks three or four absinthes. Slightly Goth-y in feel, Pravda! appeals to artists, writers, and local hipsters. (Pravda! 1113 Decatur Street, between Ursulines and Gov. Nicholls.)