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Six Drinks for the 6th

Jul 17, 2014 - PJ's Coffee of New Orleans

In honor of National Beverage Day, NoDef offers up a list of six drinks beloved in Crescent City. While outsiders think of hand grenades and Huge Ass Beers, New Orleanians know that our signature drinks are more diverse, and sometimes even non-alcoholic.   

Hangovers are inevitable in New Orleans' drinking culture, and everyone from nocturnal musicians to suits in the CBD appreciates a caffeine buzz.    There is nothing unique about café au lait, but New Orleans’ style mixes coffee and chicory in lieu of espresso. The bitter root is roasted, ground, and packaged much like its caffeinated counterpart. The combination became popular during the Civil War, when the Union blocked the Port of New Orleans and cut off NOLA's coffee supply.    Some residents who seek a sweeter, more indulgent morning boost. It is hard to find a Starbucks in New Orleans outside of a mall or a hotel, but the Big Easy has their own decadent frozen coffee beverage. PJ’s Velvet Ice comes in mocha and vanilla, and now, southern wedding cake. The creamy, sweet frozen drink is a favorite among the high school students that flock to PJ’s after school. Spokesperson Reid Nolte explained the drink. “It’s so crystallized and smooth. Adding all those is just the perfect formula,” said Nolte.    

No drink has capitalized on New Orleans open container laws and her ubiquitous to-go cups quite like the frozen daiquiri. The adult ICEEs fill styrofoam cups from Gene’s on St. Claude’s to drive-thrus all over the GNO. Gene's "Good Jug" even has a color that resembles the murky Missisippi on some of the River's greener days.    Jeremy Thompson of the Open House New Orleans Company (OH NO co.) organizes the annual Daiquiri festival. According to Thompson, ““We have all these great new ingredients, access to handmade bitters, and they [Daiquiris] create so much revenue for the city.”  

French 75
Popular summer sipper and namesake of Arnaud’s famed bar, the French75 is New Orleans’ iconic champagne cocktail. Bartender Chris Hannah showed NoDef how to make the drink, which NoDef once referred to as “posh, but quaint.”
  • 1 oz. cognac
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 3 ounces Champagne
  • Lemon twist
  • Instructions:
  • Place cognac, juice and syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake, strain and pour into a flute. Top with champagne and garnish with lemon twist.
The sazerac is not only the flagship cocktail of the Crescent City, but is also regarded by many historians as the first cocktail. In her modern incarnation, the drink is a mix of rye, Peychaud’s Bitters, and sugar. However, Cane & Table’s Nick Detrich points out that the evolution of the drink can serve a map of drinking in New Orleans. Milestones such as the creation of Peychaud's, the Civil War, the Storming of the Sazerac when bars admitted women, and prohibition are all intertwined with the history of the simple sipper.  
Berl Advisory Drinks    
Boiled Water
In other cities, residents can drink from the tap willy nilly year round. But in the land of Hurricanes and actual hurricanes, it’s impossible to always trust the pipes. New Orleanians are no strangers to boil advisories, and in the absence of bottled water, we improvise.  

Whiskey and wine are good nightcaps when the power is out, but hot beer is perfect for daytime drinking during natural disasters. Although most Americans agree that beer is better chilled, Louisianans have been enjoying cold ones from local breweries such as Tin Roof, Lazy Magnolia, Hammond's Gnarly Barley Brewing Co., Covington Brewery, Bayou Teche, 40 Arpent, Cajun Fire Brewing, NOLA Brewing, and Abita. Lighter beers such as NOLA Brewing’s 7th St. Wheat, as well as Abita’s Lemon Wheat, are bearable in the heat.    

Ramos Gin Fizz
Huey Long’s favorite beverage has been keeping New Orleanians refreshed since Henry Ramos invented the beverage in a Gravier St. bar in 1888. The concoction is a mixture of gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water, club soda. and lots of shaking. In fact, during the libation’s peak popularity, NOLA lounges employed up to 20 “shaker boys” whose only job was shaking the fizz. Long famously flew a team of bartenders to NYC so he could have the drink prepared properly.
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