The winner of the Hotel Monteleone Cocktail Contest has been determined (click here to find out more), and I realized that while I was busy telling you what not to do to win the competition, I should have been telling you the first rule of cocktail contests: know your audience (or judges in this case).
New Orleans, as those of you who have visited surely already know, is notorious for its sweet cocktails. Even when ordering proper dry cocktails like the French 75 or Old Fashioned you need to specify that you want your refreshment to be extremely dry whilst partaking in the Big Easy (and even then your libation will probably be fairly sweet). If you clicked above to read about the winner and his creation, you might have noticed that his creation’s proportions had equal parts liqueurs to base spirit (2oz liqueurs to 2 oz of rye to be exact). This was then topped up with a splash of a sweet soda and a couple of dashes of Fee’s bitters (the most candied of the orange bitters varieties). Not only is this drink very sweet (by my standards), but it is also refreshing, thanks to the crushed ice and bubbles, a perfect combination for New Orleans, whose sweet tooth is perhaps secondary only to its cloying heat. For the creation of this astute recipe, I tip my hat to Brian Robinson of Arlington, VA, for creating an interesting cocktail perfectly tailored for the locale that it was going to be made in!
As for my thought process when coming up with a recipe for this contest, I wanted something that gave a nod to the hotel’s past as well as acknowledged the fact that it’s located in a city of great cocktail history: New Orleans.
I started off with rye as a base (not unlike Brian) for not only is it used in such New Orleans classics as the Sazerac, the Vieux Carré and the Cocktail à la Louisiane, but it also has a connection to New Orleans entrepreneur Thomas Handy who imported rye for the Sazerac house when that evil louse decimated France’s vineyards, drying up this country’s supply of wine and naturally, cognac. Besides, we all know that I’m a sucker for rye drinks.
Next up was to find an ingredient to pay homage to the Monteleone’s founder, Antonio Monteleone. As he was of Italian descent, I immediately went to sweet vermouth, but not wanting to be too boring, I switched it up a bit and threw in some Punt e Mes instead. A little more bitter and interesting than your average vermouth n’est-ce pas?
Peychaud’s bitters were a natural fit, seeing as they were created in NOLA (and without bitters it wouldn’t be a cocktail now, would it?), and a dash of St Germain added a touch of sweetness and honored the city’s French heritage.
The drink at this point was great, but needed a little something extra, and as any visit to New Orleans should include a visit to Jean Laffite’s Old Absinthe House I figured that the cocktail glass should also pay a brief visit with absinthe as well.
So enough jibber-jabber, let’s mix up the:
1 ¼ oz rye (I used Rittenhouse 100 proof)
¾ oz Punt e Mes
¼ oz St Germain
dash Peychaud’s bitters
stir, strain into absinthe rinsed cocktail glass
garnish with brandied cherry
This is such a tasty beverage that despite the fact that it didn’t win the competition, I feel like I’ve come ahead a winner. Guests at the bar who have tried this drink have all raved, with one describing it as complex without being complicated. I think that about sums it up. This will definitely go into my box of tricks to be pulled up with great frequency.
Why the name Cobbler’s Dream? Antonio Monteleone was a nobleman running a successful shoe factory when he was lured to NOLA by the American dream, and as it didn’t win the contest and therefore transform into the Monteleone Cocktail, the Cobbler’s Dream it will remain.
Cin Cin and Sante!
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