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Dreaming of Christmas Markets and Holiday Cocktails

I MISS HOLIDAY TRAVEL, and especially the beloved Christmas markets that pop up in Europe this time of year. Nothing gets you in the spirit like walking around these markets with a warm holiday cocktail, smelling the delicious aromas of traditional Christmas fare, and seeing all the smiling faces of vendors selling their cheese, sweets, and hand made goods. So, with this mind I wanted to re-create these festive memories at home this Holiday season.

Our first stop on the holiday drinking-around-the-world tour is the Christmas market in Nuremburg, Germany, home to the famous Gluhwein – German mulled wine.

This traditional German drink made by pouring red wine into a bowl heated bowl. (Think of our crawfish boil pot set up.) A metal grate is then placed over the top of the bowl and a rum soaked sugar cube is placed on top; and set on fire to caramelize into the wine. This is so amazing to see in person. Let us re-create this drink at home on your stove top or crock pot.

GLUHWEIN: HOT SPICED WINE

2 bottles red wine (inexpensive; use a full-bodied wine like a Syrah or

Malbec) 3 star anise 6 cinnamon sticks 2 cloves Pinch of nutmeg 2 oranges zested 10 oz apple cider

Allow the above ingredients to simmer on low heat to infuse spices with the wine and apple cider. Next once everything has infused add 10 oz of brandy still using low heat. To serve ladle into a festive glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick and orange slice.

And the best part—leftovers can be refrigerated for up to three days and re-heated on low heat.

Next up, we travel to Italy for the Bombardino: Italian Egg Nog.

This drink mixes brandy and alcoholic egg-based zabaglione to create an orange “bomb.” It is is famous in Christmas markets of Northern Italy, and ski slopes in the Italian Alps. This drink is super easy to make at home.

BOMBARDINO: ITALIAN EGG NOG

40 ml brandy 80 ml Advocaat or Zabov Zabaglione egg liqueur (if you can’t find this, use your favorite eggnog) Whipped cream Ground cinnamon

Gently warm the egg liqueur in a pan, but do not boil. Pour the brandy into a glass mug. Pour the warm eggy liqueur into the glass and stir. Pipe in whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Our next stop France, and the Christmas market on the Champs Elysees where we will sip Vin Chaud: French Mulled Wine. This is also a favorite in the Christmas markets along the Rhine River in the Alsace region of France.

VIN CHAUD: FRENCH MULLED WINE

1.5 bottles of red wine (again inexpensive, but full bodied) 1 cup brown sugar Zest 1 lemon Zest 1 orange 2 cinnamon sticks 2 star anise 2 cloves Pinch of Nutmeg 2 Tablespoons of Honey

On your stove top bring the red wine to a boil, add remaining ingredients, then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Ladle into a glass mug. Garnish with another cinnamon stick and an orange slice. This drink is also great for parties. Do not forget that you can re-use any leftovers.

From France, we will travel to England for a Wassil. Wassil is a festive traditional drink that dates back to Medieval times when, on the Twelfth Night, villagers would run into the fields and chant as a spiritual ritual to help the apple crops thrive for spring harvest. Today, it is a holiday favorite in some of London’s nicest Cider rooms and hip bar scene.

2 apples 750 ml bottle of Cognac 8 cups apple cider 2 cups orange juice 1/3 cup lemon juice 4 cinnamon sticks 15 whole cloves ¼ teaspoon ginger ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

WASSIL

Poke the whole cloves into the apples on all sides. Add all ingredients, including the apples to a large pot over medium-low heat. Bring to simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the apples and whole cloves ladle into mugs. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice and enjoy. This one is even better re-heated the next day.

Our final stop on our holiday drinking around the world is Ireland for a Christmas Irish Whiskey Cocktail. This is a cocktail that is popular around the holidays in Ireland according to the Irish Whiskey Museum.

CHRISTMAS IRISH WHISKEY COCKTAIL

2 oz Irish Whiskey (I am a Jameson lover) 1 oz Kahlua Coffee liqueur .05 oz Mint Schnapps

Pour all ingredients into a high ball glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish will a candy cane.

I hope you will enjoy all of these fun, festive, and easy drinks that help me recall my experiences in these beautiful places while enjoying the local culture (aka “Cocktails”).

Cheers!

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Shaking Up The Classics

THERE ARE PLENTY of classic cocktails that are gone but not forgotten. Everyone is serving versions of the Old Fashion and the Manhattan, but what about the others that were favorites back in the day? I decided to play around and bring some of those “old school” drinks back to life.

THE ALABAMA SLAMMER

Loved by the college crowds in the 80s served as a shaken shot but was made famous by Brett Favre.

1 oz amaretto
1 oz sloe gin
1 oz Southern Comfort
3 ounces orange juice
Mix all ingredients in a shaker tin filled with ice and strain into a shot glass.

THE SALTY DOG

A drink that dates to the 20s. It’s a simple but easy favorite.

2 ounces vodka
3 ounces grapefruit juice
Salt rim
Shake vodka and grapefruit juice in cocktail shaker filled with ice; strain into a salt rimmed high ball glass filled with ice.

THE GRASSHOPPER

A drink invented in New Orleans in 1918.

1 oz Crème de Cacao (white)
1 oz Crème de Menthe
.5 oz simple syrup
1 oz fresh cream
Shake all ingredients in a shaker tin filled with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Sprinkle chocolate shavings as a garnish.

THE HARVEY WALLBANGER

A fun, simple vodka cocktail created in the 50s but gained popularity during the disco era of the 70s.

2 oz vodka
4 oz orange juice
.5 oz Galliano
Mix the vodka and orange juice in a rocks glass filled with ice; stir and float with Galliano.

THE SINGAPORE SLING

A long drink developed in Singapore in 1915.

1 oz gin
.5 oz Heering Cherry Liqueur
.5 oz grenadine
2 oz lime juice
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Splash of club soda
In a tall glass filled with ice mix all ingredients. Garnish with an orange wheel.

While recreating these classic cocktails, I was able to reminisce about the first time I enjoyed each of them. I hope you enjoy bringing these drinks back to life with your own special twists.

Cheers!

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Summertime Sippin’ In New Orleans

WE ALL KNOW by now that living in NOLA during the Summer is HOT! So, I have decided to work on some refreshing hand- crafted cocktails that are perfect for beating the NOLA heat. All of these cocktails will use fresh berries or juices to enhance the hand- crafted cocktail experience. I will be featuring products from Sovereign Brands. Y’all, they produce the best products using high quality ingredients, and their bottles are so beautiful; true works of art on your bar.

First up McQueen and the Violet Fog Gin cocktails. McQueen has 21 botanicals; including six that are rarely found in gin. This gin is so clean that it will mix well with everything.

MCQUEEN STRAWBERRY BASIL

2 oz Mc Queen and Violet Fog Gin
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1⁄2 oz basil syrup
3 oz soda water
3 whole strawberries
In a rocks glass muddle the strawberries then add crushed ice, the rest of the ingredients, and stir. Garnish with a strawberry and basil leaf.

WATERMELON GIN SMASH

2 oz McQueen and Violet Fog Gin
6 large cubes of seedless watermelon
4 strawberries sliced
2 cups of crushed ice
1⁄2 fresh squeezed lemon juice
Mint for garnish
In a blender, place watermelon, pulse until crushed. While blending watermelon, place your rock glass in the freezer to chill. After blending, remove your chilled glass, muddle the strawberries then add ice, McQueen and Violet Fog Gin, watermelon puree, and lemon juice. Tumble using a shaker tin, and garnish with a mint leaf.

FRENCH QUARTER FROSE

makes 2 drinks

5 oz McQueen and the Violet Fog Gin
1⁄2 bottle of Luc Belaire Rare Rose
2 oz St. Germain
2 oz strawberry puree
Blend all ingredients in a blender filled with ice. Pour into your favorite stemless champagne flute or your favorite insulated tumbler.

Moving on to another spirit made for summertime fun…RUM! And not just any rum, Bumbu Rum. Its “X” on the bottle marks the spot for a delicious libation straight from the islands. The delicious spice in the rum makes it perfect for a naew take on some classic cocktails.

BANANA FOSTER OLD FASHION

2 oz Bumbu XO
1 oz simple syrup
1⁄2 fresh banana cut in slices
3 dashes of El Guapo Holiday Pie Bitters
Cinnamon stick for garnish
Muddle bananas in a rock glass. Add ice, Bumbu, simple syrup, bitters, and stir. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. (This is drink is so NOLA!)

BUMBU TROPICAL MOJITO

2 oz Bumbu
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz coconut water
3 lime wedges
Mint
Soda water
Rock candy on a stick
In a Collins glass muddle lime and mint. Add ice, Bumbu, lime juice, pineapple juice, coconut water, and soda water. Stir, then garnish with a piece of rock candy on a stick, lime wedge and mint.

Finally, what is more French Quarter than Champagne and Cognac cocktails? The Villon cognac just released in Louisiana is so delicious and smooth that
it works so well with so many spirits.

LIMON VILLON

(My French version of the Classic Lemon Drop.)

2 oz Villon
2 oz Limoncello (chill before using)
Sugar for rimming glass
In a shaker tin filled with ice combine both ingredients and shake vigorously. Take a chilled Martini glass and rim the edge with sugar and strain the shaker tin into the glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

THE PERFECT VILLON

2 oz Villon
1⁄2 oz St. Germain
1⁄2 oz simple syrup Luc Belaire Brut
In a shaker tin filled with ice, shake the Villon, St Germain, and simple syrup. Strain into a Champagne flute, and finish with Le Belaire Brut. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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Drinks With Anna: Whiskey and a Slice

During my summer staycation, I have been researching trends and pairings in the cocktail and wine industry. One trendy new idea intrigued me so much that I decided to try it out myself. The idea of drinking whiskey, bourbon, and rye with a slice of pizza, or the whole pie, sounded both savory and delicious. So, I set out on a journey to create the most delicious whiskey, bourbon, and rye cocktails that could pair well with pizza. Pizza is a favorite of everyone. It’s comfort food, right? I know what you are thinking. Pizza and whiskey, nah! Pizza and wine, yes! After doing my research I found that whiskey, bourbon, and rye pair quite nicely with the meat, veggie, and cheese toppings found on most pizzas.

Here are some of my favorite pairings. What makes this extra special was that I was able to order take out from these great local pizzerias. I love supporting our local neighborhood small businesses. These pizzas were so delicious, crispy, and the ingredients were so fresh it made cocktail crafting a breeze. Also, there is no shame in eating an extra slice!

CLASSIC MARGARITA PIZZA BY NOLA MIA WITH A BUFFALO TRACE MANHATTAN

2 oz Buffalo Trace
1 oz Herring Cherry Liquor

Served on the rocks

Garnish: Bordeaux cherry

*The bittersweet flavor of the Buffalo Trace combined with the cherry liquor pair wonderfully with the acidity of the tomatoes and saltiness of the mozzarella cheese.

FUNGHI PIZZA BY TAVOLINO WITH A WESTBANK SOUR

2 oz Wild Turkey
.75 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
.05 Tempranillo wine (any full-bodied red)

Served on the rocks; wine floated on top after mixing all other ingredients

Garnish: lemon zest

*Mushrooms and red wine are a match made in heaven, so creating a whiskey cocktail with red wine was easy. Whiskey and wine can stand up to the earthy mushrooms, the bite from the arugula, and the deliciousness of the truffle oil and fontina cheese.

BIG DAVE’S BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA BY THEO’S WITH A JACK DANIELS STRAWBERRY ICED TEA

2 oz Jack Daniels 5 strawberries
5 oz iced tea
1 oz simple syrup

Muddle strawberries, mix all ingredients with ice, tumble 

Garnish: lemon wedge

*This refreshing cocktail with muddled strawberries pairs nicely with the heat from the buffalo chicken. The richness of the cheddar makes everything even better.

FANTASY ISLAND PIZZA BY TAVOLINO WITH THE IRISH MULE

2 oz Jameson Caskmates IPA
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
4 oz Barritt’s Ginger Beer in the bottle

Served on the rocks in a copper cup 

Garnish: mint sprig and lime wheel

*The Jameson Caskmates IPA along with the ginger beer complement the sweetness of the pineapple, the saltiness of prosciutto, and the heat from the jalapeños.

FARMERS MARKET PIZZA BY MAGAZINE PIZZA WITH A WELLER ANTIQUE 107

3 oz Weller Antique 107

1 single ice cube

Highball Glass

*This wheated bourbon with its complexity of full-bodied flavor and balanced palate pair well with the flavors of the pie topped with zucchini, squash, olive, spinach, bell pepper and so many more veggies. The bourbon leaves a sweet vanilla note after each sip.

MEAT COMBO BY PIZZA DELICIOUS WITH A LONGBRANCH OLD- FASHIONED

2 oz Longbranch
1 oz simple syrup
Dash of Ryan’s Orange Bitters 3 blackberries

Muddle blackberries, mix all ingredients over ice; stir

Garnish: Bordeaux cherry

*In the words of Matthew McConaughey, “Alright, alright, alright.” His signature bourbon pairs perfectly with the boldness of the pepperoni and pancetta, and the sweetness of the Italian Sausage.

I hope everyone enjoys these combinations that are fitting for cooler fall weather and football. I have a newfound appreciation for rye and pie. Mangia Mangia!

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Drinks With Anna: Quarantine Frozen Cocktail Queen

Like many of you, the stay-at-home order has unleashed in me many emotions (sometimes all in one day). It has also taught me new things about myself. For instance, I do have a green thumb and I really do like tequila. While sweatily planting my herb garden one afternoon, I started thinking about ways to cool off in this NOLA heat. Let’s face it…we only had spring temperatures for half of March, then the heat started. As I began looking at the blooming lavender, mint, and rosemary, my mind started working creatively again, which was fun. Frozen Craft Daquiris was my “ah-ha” moment. I missed going to the restaurant and creating new cocktails. Bonding with our guests over craft cocktails was fun, engaging, and most of all exciting. I immediately grabbed lavender, mint, and strawberries from the garden, went to the kitchen, broke out the Ninja blender, and went to work. 

The daquiri was born in a small Cuban town in 1898, but in NOLA, it’s part of who we are. Everyone has a memory from getting their first frozen daquiri, and I think most of us got it from the drive-thru…it was refreshing, fruity deliciousness in a Styrofoam cup. Yes, those drive- thru piña coladas, jungle juices, and white Russians are delicious, but I wanted to craft frozen daiquiris using fresh fruit, herbs, and quality booze. 

I used my husband (my shelter-in- place partner) as my test pilot and I set out to be the “Quarantine Frozen Cocktail Queen.” Some of these drinks are my play on traditional drinks and some are pure quarantine creations. 

Louisiana Strawberry Mojito 

  • 6 fresh Louisiana strawberries 10 mint leaves
  • 1.5 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz Bayou Spiced Rum 
  • 4 oz soda water
  • Juice of one freshly squeezed lime 10-15 ice cubes 

Blend until smooth. The spiced rum gives this cocktail a little extra flavor. Garnish with a mint leaf and fresh strawberry. 

Mint Julep 

  • 10 mint leaves
  • 2.5 oz Woodford Reserve 4 oz soda water
  • 1.5 oz simple syrup 10-15 ice cubes 

Blend until smooth, pour into a proper julep cup, garnish with mint leaves. 

(This was my Kentucky Derby/ Jazz Fest in Place Drink) 

Frozen Briquette 75 

  • 4 oz Mumm Sparkling Rosé
  • 1.5 oz Hendricks Gin
  • 1 oz homemade lavender syrup
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice 10-15 ice cubes 

Lavender syrup: In a medium saucepan combine one-part sugar and water. Toss in lavender. Bring to a boil stirring. Allow to cool and strain into a bottle. 

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Garnish with a lemon zest. 

Elyx Strawberry Mule 

  • 6 fresh Louisiana strawberries
  • 2.5 oz Absolut Elyx
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz Barritt’s Ginger Beer (use the one in the bottle made with real Cane Sugar) 
  • 10-15 ice cubes 

Blend till smooth. Serve in a copper mule cup with a strawberry garnish. 

Frozen South Peters Cosmo 

  • 8 fresh blueberries 
  • 2 oz Skyy Vodka 
  • 1 oz St. Germain 
  • 1 oz Prosecco 
  • .5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice Splash of Cranberry for color 10-15 ice cubes 

Blend until smooth. 

Frozen French 75 

  • 2 oz Martell Blue Swift
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 oz simple syrup
  • 4 oz Champagne/Cava
  • 10-15 ice cubes 

Blend until smooth. (This was my Jazz Fest in Place Locals Thursday drink.) 

Frozen Paloma 

  • 3 oz Esplon Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 oz freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 10 -15 ice cubes. 

Blend till smooth. Garnish with lime. (This was my Cinco de Bayou drink.) 

Frozen Creole Coffee 

  • 2 oz Absolut Vanilla Vodka
  • 1.5 oz praline and cream liquor
  • 4 oz freshly brewed espresso chilled 10-15 ice cubes 

Blend till smooth. Garnish with a coffee bean. 

Frozen Toulouse St. Milk Punch 

  • 2 oz Cask & Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey 
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1 dash of vanilla extract 4 oz whole milk 

Blend till smooth. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon. (This was my Easter morning drink.) 

Frosé 

Yields 4-6 drinks 

  • 1 750-ml bottle chilled Rosé
  • 1⁄4 cup vodka
  • 4 cups chopped strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 8 cups ice 

Combine half of the Rosé, vodka, strawberries, and ice. Blend until slushy, if too watery add more ice and blend again. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. 

(Note: When blending all drinks everyone’s ice and blender are different. You may have to tweak the amount of ice a little.) 

I know it looks like I drank the entire stay at home order, but it was research, right? My husband has a new appreciation for the frozen drinks after his days of pressure-washing and gardening projects with me. I cannot wait to enjoy some time on the patio with friends, social distancing of course, with one of these delicious cocktails. I hope you enjoy these crisp, refreshing, and most of all, beat-the-NOLA-HEAT drinks.

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Bring on Summer Staycation with Seafood & Spirits at Briquette

New Orleans is unquestionably a food and beverage city—locals and visitors are accustomed to having their every food whim met with readily available, flavor-packed dining experiences. The last four months, however, have delivered night after night of home-cooked (and likely microwaved) meals at the same old kitchen table. This month, the Downtown seafood and spirit specialists of Briquette are looking to change all of that.

Briquette’s new Staycation Dinner Series welcomes residents tired of their own worn-out recipes to stop in for some socially distant, contemporary coastal food and fun. The series kicked off on Thursday, June 25, with a special dinner featuring Wagner Family Wines / Caymus Vineyards. On Wednesday, August 19, Briquette will host an Italian-themed wine dinner featuring wines from Italy’s sun-kissed, Mediterranean regions. The dinner is presented in conjunction with the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE).

Meanwhile, partnerships and preparations are underway for July and September events, which Proprietor Anna Tusa guarantees will be “spirited” affairs. It’s important to note Briquette’s commitment to the safety of guests and staff—the entire restaurant has been professionally cleaned by COVID Cleaning using the PURTEQ system, which kills viruses for 90 days, according to Tusa.

In addition to hosting an extensive wine collection from vineyards around the world, Briquette has also established itself as a New Orleans hub for Bourbon enthusiasts and adventurous sippers of hand-crafted cocktails. As another get-out-of-the-house, staycation offering, the restaurant is excited to add private cocktail classes to the summer schedule.

“With a maximum of 10 guests and minimum of two, the intimate craft cocktail experience provides an in-depth lesson for those looking to expand their bar skills from a Briquette mixologist,” says Tusa. The classes can be paired with a meal or center on drinks alone. Perfect for small celebrations, date nights, or an outing with close friends, the private classes focus on your choice of “Traditional,” “Classic New Orleans,” or “Bad & Boujee” cocktails.

While birthday, anniversary, wedding, and other celebrations have been tamped down in recent months, Briquette’s Wine Room, a private dining room, is now available to provide spaced, socially distant celebrations for small groups who are ready for a comfortable, stylish gathering place. Briquette’s Wine Room has its own entrance, restroom, and kitchen—relax knowing your guests will be the only ones in the room.

Brunch, another beloved New Orleans tradition that many have missed, is back in action at Briquette’s sister restaurant, The New Orleans Creole Cookery, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The French Quarter restaurant brought back live entertainment to its open-air courtyard to complement dinner Thursday through Saturday evenings.

“The courtyard has been a popular destination in the re-opening of in-house dining, and the return of our Oyster Happy Hour from 3 – 6  p.m has been a local favorite of late,” says Tusa.

Looks like sticking around for the summer won’t be so bad after all!

We are open and actively enforcing all safety measures outlined by the Mayor to ensure the safety of our customers and staff. We are serving dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 5pm to 9pm, and we look forward to seeing you.