Sazerac – New Orleans, USA
The Sazerac embodies the spirit of New Orleans. From the first sight to the last sip, its an ever-evolving experience that emulates a walk through the city.
The sight of the low washline in the glass bears resemblance to the city sitting below sea level, which is still evident on the buildings and plots of land today. The smell of sweet citrus followed by strong anise and fennel builds a complex nose that portrays the distinct districts of the city. The spice from the rye and bitters lingers in the throat like a hot Cajun meal.
New Orleans is the birthplace of many classic cocktails and, rightfully so, deserves a trip to indulge in a very good drink.
My ideal specs: 2oz rye whiskey, 1tsp sugar, 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters, 1 dash Angostura bitters, stirred in ice and poured up into an old fashioned glass, lemon peel expressed on top and discarded.
Daquiri – Havana, Cuba
Let me be clear. This is not one of the frozen slushees you get at an American beach town bar. There’s a place for them, but that place isn’t here.
The classic daiquiri is essentially a rum sour; a delicate experiment as you seek to balance spirit, sour, and sweet to your taste palate. You envision Hemmingway sitting at the end of the bar, tossing back one after another, the cool drink cutting through the heat and humidity.
I haven’t yet been to Cuba, but it’s on my shortlist. Your first reaction to pictures and videos are of how it’s a land stuck in time – the classic cars, the beautiful buildings, and the warm sunrises. Then your thoughts change. Why are they stuck in time? Do the people really convey the opinion of the country or are they suffering at the hands of a political showdown they have no influence in? To travel to Cuba requires a bit of extra work. You must sign papers and retain proof that you’re only staying and spending money at establishments owned by individuals and not the state. Are our embargo’s helping anybody or just hurting the people?
My ideal specs: 2oz rum, 3/4oz fresh lime juice, 1/2oz simple syrup, shaken over ice, strained into a chilled Nick & Nora glass.
Paloma – Mexico
Another drink without a definitive origin, the Paloma has enough popularity and local ingredients that I’m confident in saying the Jalisco region of Mexico is the birthplace or very close to it, at the least. Grapefruit production didn’t take off in Mexico until the 1960s so earlier versions may have been tequila and any available soda.
This is beyond refreshing and exactly what I would want to sip on while lounging on a Mexican beach. A lot of people mix grapefruit juice with soda water and a pinch of salt, but I think a grapefruit-flavored soda works well and provides a little extra sweetness to balance it out. I touched on wanting to visit the agave farms in a previous post, and I can’t wait to do so with a cold, delicious La Paloma in hand.
My ideal specs: 2oz mezcal, juice of 1/2 lime, poured into a highball glass, topped with ice and grapefruit soda.