“The moment a chill hits Louisiana air, out come the blankets, firewood, warm spices, and hot toddies. Deep into winter (such as it is in South Louisiana), the heady fragrances of smoke and pine give way to zesty cinnamon and sharper, cleaner wintergreen. The taste for sweet follows suit: dark and sticky becomes lighter, rounded, faintly nutty.
Enter the gorgeous, infused turbinado sugars from La Canne. Creators Tony Bonomolo and Gabriel Senette are “cane-do” guys, blending the comforting flavors of smoked pecan (ginger and lavender, too) into Louisiana cane sugar.
Loving that coziness that comes from hands wrapped around a warm mug, Vincent Heintz, a barman at New Orleans’s Coquette, concocted the Kentucky Slugger, a dreamy drink with a punch— a reminder that winter is not quite over; all its flavors will linger just a bit longer. How sweet.” – Lorin Gaudin
- ½ cup La Canne Pecan-Smoked Sugar
- 5 cups hot water
- 6 ounces bourbon, such as Evan Williams
- 4 ounces Stroh Jagertee liqueur
- 12 to 16 drops allspice dram
- Garnishes: smoked sugar, and orange peels
- In a heatproof measuring cup or bowl, combine sugar, 5 cups hot water, bourbon, liqueur, and allspice dram. Wet rims of 4 serving glasses, and dip in additional smoked sugar, if desired, and serve with 2 orange peels.
As one of the Crescent City’s first craft cocktail bars, Cure has done much to further its reputation for excellence in the realm of potent potables. Here, barman Turk Dietrich makes a rich, worldly concoction of dry Spanish sherry, Peruvian grape brandy, and floral aromatic bitters from North Carolina. Jason’s Ascension, 1988 is elegant without being fussy and pairs well with a brisk Louisiana evening.
- 1 large farm egg white
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 ounce pisco
- 1 ounce La Gitana Manzanilla sherry
- ½ ounce grenadine
- 14 drops Crude Bitterless Marriage Bitters
- Garnish: Crude Bitterless Marriage Bitters
- In a cocktail shaker, combine egg white and lemon juice; cover, and shake vigorously 5 seconds. Add pisco, sherry, grenadine, bitters, and ice, and shake vigorously 5 seconds. Double strain mixture into a chilled coupe. Garnish with 3 drops of bitters, if desired.
Vanilla Satsumacello is a Louisiana take on a classic Italian liqueur.
- 10 satsumas
- 1 (750-milliliter) bottle 125-proof vodka, such as Atelier Vie Buck 25
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 (2-inch) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
- Garnish: satsuma peel
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove peel from satsumas, making sure no pith remains. In a large glass container, combine peel and vodka. Cover, and let stand in a cool, dark place for 5 days, shaking mixture daily.
- In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool completely. Add sugar mixture and reserved vanilla bean and seeds to vodka mixture. Seal, and let stand 4 weeks.
- Strain through a fine-mesh strainer before serving. Serve well chilled. Garnish with satsuma peel, if desired.
This Sparkling Hurricane is a fun and festive take on the original.
- 4 cups passion fruit juice
- 4 cups pineapple juice
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup pineapple rum
- 1 cup rum
- 1 (750 ml) bottle chilled Champagne
- Garnish: fresh lemon slices
- In a large pitcher, combine passion fruit juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and rums. Add Champagne. Serve in chilled glasses. Garnish with fresh lemon slices, if desired.
As the holidays draw near and temperatures drop, we welcome a warm drink to help us feel snug and cozy. Nothing hits the spot better than that iconic blend of eggs, milk, sugar, and spices, fortified, perhaps, with a splash of spirits: hot eggnog.
I’m not talking about the packaged, cloyingly sweet, near-gelatinous stuff in grocery stores. Rather, I’m talking about the luscious, frothy, custardlike beverage made from scratch. Although its exact origin is uncertain, hot eggnog has been a mainstay of winter social life for hundreds of years. It can be served hot or cold, with alcohol or without, in dainty punch cups or in substantial mugs.
Eggs in the nog can be cooked to a safe temperature or incorporated raw. Potential food safety concerns can be alleviated by using pasteurized eggs (available in many grocery stores) or by using a recipe that calls for cooking the eggs, as my mother always did for her hot eggnog.
Vanilla and freshly grated nutmeg are standard spices for any good eggnog, but feel free to experiment with small amounts of other flavorings such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and star anise. Some recipes call for almost as much alcohol as milk or cream. Traditional choices are cognac, brandy, rum, bourbon, or sherry; more modern additions include Grand Marnier (orange), Kahlúa (coffee), and amaretto (almond) liqueurs. Spirits can be added to the entire batch or to individual servings.
Use the finest ingredients you can find, and serve your hot eggnog in grand style when entertaining. Just remember, if you offer it warm, use a tempered-glass punch bowl and cups or mugs that can take the heat.
- 2 quarts whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 12 large eggs, separated (see note)
- 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
- 1 quart heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Bourbon, rum, brandy, amaretto, or other spirits (optional)
- Garnish: ground nutmeg
- In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat milk, vanilla bean and seeds, andsalt over medium heat to 190º. Do not let mixture boil.
- In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed with a mixer for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture becomes pale and has a ribbonlike texture. Slowly pour 2 cups hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, beating on low speed constantly.
- Pour egg mixture into pot of hot milk, whisking constantly. Add heavy cream, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until mixture has reached 170º and is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove pan from heat; discard vanilla bean, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites and remaining ¾ cup sugar on high speed with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Pour milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large serving bowl. Carefully fold beaten egg whites and nutmeg into milk mixture.
- Ladle into punch cups or mugs. Add spirits to taste, if desired, and garnish with nutmeg.
- TIP: If you prefer cold eggnog, after removing the pan from heat, cool mixture to room temperature before refrigerating, along with unbeaten egg whites, at least three hours or up to overnight. When ready to serve, whip egg whites with sugar, and continue recipe as directed.
- NOTE: Substitute 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract for vanilla bean if desired. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to two days; serve cold or gently reheat. According to the USDA, people with health problems, the very young, the elderly, and pregnant women should avoid eating foods containing raw eggs. Pasteurized egg whites can be substituted, if necessary.
Sarah Liberta’s company, HERBS by Sarah, provides herbal education, research, and business services. A lifelong educator, Sarah teaches culinary garden classes for Louisiana State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and other programs.
With Mardi Gras reverie all around, the joy of strolling through the French Quarter with a Bourbon Milk Punch is hard to beat. The barkeeps at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House have their own little twist on the classic drink—they serve it as a milkshake. If you can’t make it to the French Quarter, they gave us the recipe so you can whip up a batch at home.
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup Simple Syrup, recipe below
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream
- Garnish: grated nutmeg
- In the container of a blender, combine milk, bourbon, vanilla, Simple Syrup, and ice cream; blend 8 seconds. Pour into glasses, and garnish with grated nutmeg, if desired.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature before using. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 month.
For holiday entertaining, having a smart signature drink like this Snow Angel Cocktail from Le Foret in New Orleans is a must. The bar at Le Foret in New Orleans shared this delightful tipple. It has the bracing bite of a whiskey sour combined with a sweet kiss of cinnamon and allspice.
- 2 ounces bourbon, such as Angel’s Envy
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- ¾ ounce Cinnamon Syrup, recipe follows
- ½ ounce pimento or allspice dram liqueur
- 1 large egg white
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- Garnish: star anise
- In a cocktail shaker, combine bourbon, lemon juice, Cinnamon Syrup, pimento liqueur, and egg white. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Add ice, and shake until cold. Strain into a coupe glass. Add bitters, and garnish with star anise, if desired.
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
- In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, and stir constantly until dissolved. Add cinnamon, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool. Remove cinnamon, and transfer syrup to a heatproof container. Cover, and refrigerate until cold. Store up to 2 weeks.
- ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
- 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole star anise
- ½ gallon apple cider
- 1½ cups bourbon
- Garnish: sliced jalapeño peppers, cinnamon sticks
- In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, ½ cup water, jalapeño, cinnamon, and star anise over medium-high heat; cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand 20 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; discard solids.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine cider, bourbon, and sugar mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes more. Serve warm. Garnish with jalapeño peppers and cinnamon sticks, if desired.