In the Land of Cocktails
Proprietors of the legendary New Orleans restaurant Commander’s Palace and first cousins, Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, are also cocktail divas – spreading the gospel about how to make drinks properly – from why a true Sazerac can only be made with Peychaud’s bitters to why hand-chipped ice is best for cocktails. Their book In the Land of Cocktails, is both a guide to making some of the world’s best cocktails and an introduction to the beloved, boisterous Brennan family and their friends, as well as an explanation of some of the unique – perhaps strange to some – words and ways of life in New Orleans.
THE ADELAIDE SWIZZLE
We had our very own Auntie Mame. Her name was Aunt Adelaide – she lived life like she was in a movie dream sequence. Really. We’re still not sure how she pulled it all off. Glamour and naughtiness all at once, all the time. The stories about her are legendary in our family.
In 2003, we named our newest restaurant and bar after her: Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar, because she wore a gold swizzle stick on a chain around her neck. Every once in a while, she would learn over and swizzle her drink with her necklace. We loved it.
When we decided to create a drink in honor of Aunt Adelaide, we wanted to use two New Orleans ingredients: New Orleans rum and Peychaud’s bitters. And what’s the secret ingredient, you ask? Well, we’ve managed to keep it secret for a couple of years. So, come to New Orleans, taste it at the source, and see if you can guess for yourself. In the meantime, make the Adelaide Swizzle without it.
Makes 1 cocktail
1 1/2 ounces amber rum
Juice of 1 lime wedge
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1/4 ounce Simple Syrup – recipe below
Secret ingredient – when you discover it
Lime wedge, for garnish
Combine the rum, lime juice, bitters, simple syrup, and the secret ingredient in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over ice into a highball glass, top with the club soda, garnish with a lime wedge and serve.
Makes 2 cups
2 cups sugar
2 cups boiling water
Place the sugar in a heatproof container, add the boiling water, and stir until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature. The cooled syrup will keep, refrigerated, in a jar or container for up to a month.
We have long loved Café Brulot, Irish Coffee and other coffee-based drinks, but Café Pierre is a family favorite. Ti was once going to do a radio interview about our family tradition at Commander’s Palace of serving flaming coffee tableside. She knew the histories of many drinks, but not this one. So Ti called her mother, Ella, who giggled and said, “Oh, your Aunt Claire, Uncle John, and Aunt Adelaide were eating at Brennan’s in Dallas one night and decided to invent a flaming coffee drink. The captain who was assisting this foray into mischief was named Pierre.”
Be sure to use heatproof glassware that can handle hot beverages, such as Irish coffee glass mugs. At our restaurants, we use wineglasses. They will be very hot once the coffee has been added to them. Pierre’s solution was to fold a linen napkin in such a way as to make the perfect “mitts” for guests to hold the stem of the glass.
Makes 2 drinks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 lime wedge
2 ounces of brandy
2 ounces Kahlúa
2 ounces Galliano
2 cups hot strong black coffee
1/2 cup Sweetened Vanilla Whipped Cream – recipe below
Place the sugar in a shallow dish. Wet the rims of the two heatproof all-purpose wineglasses with the lime wedge. Roll the wet glass rims in the sugar. Holding each glass by the stem, and turning it over a low flame, melt the sugar until it is the color of carmel.
Divide the brandy, Kahlúa, Galliano and coffee between the two glasses and stir. Gently spoon a thick layer of whipped cream into each glass and serve immediately.
Sweetened Vanilla Whipped Cream
If possible, try to find cream that has not been ultrapasturized.
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place the cream in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed or by hand until thick and frothy. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until soft peaks form, being careful not to overmix. Though the cream will hold its peaks for several hours in the refrigerator, you should use it immediately.