Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras Cocktails

I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I’ve obviously never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I’m not sure whether this is something I feel bad about or not, but another year passes without making the trip to the Big Easy for one of America’s biggest, craziest parties. That said, today is probably a good day to drink some New Orleans cocktails.


1/2 oz simple syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
3 oz rye
2 dashes absinthe

Fill a small rocks glass with ice and allow it to chill. Empty the ice into a second rocks glass. In the first glass, add the syrup, bitters and whiskey and stir. Pour the contents of the first glass into the ice filled second glass. Pour the absinthe into the first glass and twirl the glass (preferably in the air with great enthusiasm) to coat it well. Discard the remaining absinthe. Strain the contents of the second glass into the absinthe-rinsed first glass. Garnish with a lemon peel twisted over the top of the glass.

This is one of my favorite cocktails in the world. If you’ve never had it, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, especially if you’re a fan of whiskey cocktails like an Old Fashioned.

Vieux Carre

3/4 oz rye
3/4 oz brandy (I prefer with cognac)
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/8 oz Benedictine
dash Peychaud’s bitters
dash Angostura bitters

Build over ice in an old fashioned glass.

Another really great cocktail – a bit more complex than the Sazerac, at least as far as the ingredients go. If you like the Vieux Carre, there’s a pretty great chance that you’ll love the Cocktail a la Louisiane.

Cocktail a la Louisiane

3/4 oz. rye
3/4 oz. Benedictine
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
3 dashes absinthe
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Stir with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

The a la Louisiane is one of my favorite cocktails — I was introduced to it by Marshall of Scofflaw’s Den, who has been on something of a mission to popularize it in Washington DC. So far he’s been pretty successful as far as I can tell.

Speaking of Scofflaw’s Den, I just saw that SeanMike created what looks to be a negative space Sazerac, the Sazeritif, for last week’s Thursday Drink Night of rinses.


2 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1/2 dash of absinthe
Rinse: rye whiskey

Rinse glass with the rye whiskey. Stir and strain remaining ingredients, and sit back and enjoy this tantric potion.

I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks like it will be right up my alley. As a reminder, I wrote about negative space cocktails following having the Fakie Alexander by Adam Bernbach at Bar Pilar. Here’s what Adam wrote me about negative space options:

As far as the “fakie,” I’m really into Brandy Alexanders and I’ve really been exploring the idea of the “negative space” cocktail (a cocktail in which you replace a major ingredient with it’s opposite in order to imply the missing note). In this case, I replaced the cacao with chinato (the Italian’s favorite pairing for chocolate). Hope it worked for you.

I have to imagine that this was the same concept SeanMike was going for, as it makes a lot of sense. The Sazerac doesn’t have sweet vermouth, but rye is so often associated with sweet vermouth because they work well together (as the Vieux Carre and a la Louisiane abley demonstrate). I’ve never seen rye used as a rinse before, but I think it could work. I look forward to trying SeanMike’s creation and think it’s a great addition to the list of classic cocktails to honor New Orleans on Mardi Gras.



  1. Wow, SeanMike’s cocktail looks awesome. I can’t believe I skipped over that one. I’ve been drinking my body weight in Noilly Pratt the past couple weeks. That looks like a good a way to spend Fat Tuesday as any.

    Also Matt, the new site looks good.

  2. Yeah SM’s drink looks great. I’ve been doing a lot to use my Dolin Rouge and Carpano Antico before they lose their pop. But I haven’t been making any vermouth-as-base drinks (though my 50/50 martinis are a great way to use up the Noilly Pratt and Dolin Dry).

    Glad you like the new site design.

  3. […] & Negative Space Cocktails So yesterday I posted the recipe for the Sazeritif, by SeanMike of Scofflaw’s Den. In the post, I said that I thought the […]

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