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Aug 8, 201309:34 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

A New Orleans Bar Tale and An Indoor Picnic

Cruz Tequila

I hope you can stand one more tale from Tales of the Cocktail because this one is typical of the New Orleans cocktail scene, and these sorts of things don’t really happen with any degree of regularity in other towns.

I am not saying they couldn’t happen, it’s just that they don’t seem to. The status of our city as a cocktail-centric destination continues to grow in stature, and, for those of you who don’t travel to other places, you should appreciate how much we take for granted here.

It was my pleasure to have a meeting with a couple of executives from Cruz Tequila. They wanted to talk about their product and its place in the cocktail world. Pep Katcher, whose business card reads “El Presidente,” and Todd Ellinwood, who goes by the lofty but not so clever title of National Brand Manager, were ready to share their story about Cruz and how it came to be, farming and distillation philosophy and all that.

Cruz, incidentally is owned by the good folks at Trinchero Wines, which is quite a flip from the days when spirits houses coveted wineries.

We were seeking a place where we could sit, chat and taste the various aging levels of Cruz. Believe it or not, those kinds of places are not that hard to find in the French Quarter. Yes, I know it’s a stretch but work with me here.

We settled on Felipe’s at Bienville and N. Peters Streets. When we all arrived, I suggested we head upstairs to the new Tiki bar, Tiki Tolteca, find a comfortable table and get into the real business at hand. The talented bar dude, Richard Odell, was behind the stick and he welcomed us with open arms. If you know Richard, you know that’s just how he is.

Glasses were offered and Richard kindly took control of the Cruz Tequila bottles and poured them for our edification per Todd’s instructions. Cruz is a quite nice premium Tequila, smooth throughout the entire palate experience and showing great tequila heritage in its aromas and taste profiles.

For those of you who enjoy tequila, you will know what I am talking about here. For those of you who are “off” tequila, likely from a previous unfortunate experience, likely in college, maybe it’s time to get back on the horse and drink better tequila than the one you will never forget.

The spirit offers some excellent qualities and, if your self-imposed exile will allow it, try a bit in a cocktail. Don’t head for the stuff straight right off the bat. You will be back where you started, confirming every bad thing you have come to believe over the years.

Check out the Cruz website at cruztequila.com to learn more about its distillation and provenance.

Anyway, the three of us – Presidente, Todd and me – were going through the paces of what Cruz is all about, when suddenly a cocktail appears. “Now who ordered this?”

Seems Richard had also tasted the Cruz and it suggested to him a cocktail. One with no name. One that had not even been born until he created it on the spot. Here’s the recipe:

2 ounces Cruz Silver Tequila

¾ ounce grapefruit juice, fresh

½ ounce lime, fresh

¼ ounce cinnamon syrup

¼ ounce honey mix (½ honey, ½ water)

Mix all ingredients in a shaker. Shake well. Pour into rocks glass, loaded with crushed ice.

And here is the difference between New Orleans cocktail professionals and those in other cities: Our gang is “molecular.” They are not trying to be derivative. In other places, when cocktails are created, they look at what has come before. I am certain our group does that also.

But in New Orleans, we understand what the ingredients bring to the party. We know that by adding cinnamon and honey, in low quantities, good things will happen. Not to mention the citrus, both grapefruit and lime. Sweet and sour, a quality spirit, all balanced to perfection.

Frankly, the Cruz guys were blown away. They could not believe that not only were we welcome to sit and taste their spirit at Felipe’s with no fuss, no bother, we also brought them lagniappe, something new and fresh using their product.

Our city is like that.

On a different topic...

You are not going to believe this deal.

A picnic in the middle of the sweltering days of August does not sound incredibly tempting. Why can’t we have a picnic indoors? I know, I’ve grown soft in my old age but really, people, do any of us truly enjoy sweltering and grilling?

At Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse
, the owner and staff have solved the problem, and they’ve done it with a lot of class. They will be staging a picnic at their place, complete with cocktails, wines, all the trimmings, and featuring Louisiana’s own Gonsoulin Beef from New Iberia. The event happens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Problem 1  –  solved: The picnic will be indoors. Problem 2 – solved: Chef Alfred Singleton is doing all the cooking. Problem 3 – solved: Tickets are only $45.

Is that great, or what? An indoor picnic featuring great Louisiana beef, complete with specialty cocktails and carafe wines, and for only $45. To make matters even better, $10 of that ticket is going to the New Orleans chapter of Dress for Success, a charity near to Dickie’s generous heart.  

If you enjoy the meat, you will be able to purchase Gonsoulin Beef cuts from the Butcher Counter that will be set up for this evening only.

Full details, as well as reservations, can be done at (504) 522-2467. You can also read more about the event on Facebook here.



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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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