Jul 5, 201209:28 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Coffee? Tea? Or ... (Don't Even Go There)

Image Courtesy of Brybs, stock.xchng, 2009

I have fond memories of summer, as I am certain most of us do, because not only was it play baseball! time, as well as no-school season, but it also meant that, at dinnertime, we kids were served iced tea instead of the usual cold-weather drink (milk). I like milk, but iced tea just went down easier and was more festive.

As I grew older, something I am still doing, I broke the milk habit and went directly to iced tea year-round. The freedom of maturity, and all that. Iced tea is that perfect drink, refreshing and no conflicts with a wide range of foods.

Let me pause here to make one comment: Whoever let loose on New Orleans restaurants asking if you want “sweetened or unsweetened” iced tea, please stop the madness. Our city is not part of the Deep South where sweetened tea is an integral part of dining. Our tea here is hot or iced. It’s not, by tradition, sweetened, except by the consumer, who has the good sense to add all the sugar required for personal taste just before the moment of ingestion.

Anyway, in many circles, mixing alcohol with tea is considered bad form, old sport. And before you get carried away with the retort, “But what about Long Island Iced Tea?” let me hasten to inform you that this particular cocktail contains not a whit of tea.

Long Island Iced Tea
1 part vodka
1 part tequila
1 part light rum
1 part gin
1 part Cointreau or triple sec
1 part fresh lemon juice 
Cola

Rim a collins glass with a lemon wedge, and then fill with ice cubes. Mix all alcohol ingredients with the lemon juice in a shaker, with ice. Shake well then strain into the glass. Top with cola to taste and garnish with lemon wedge.

Since I like drinks that practically make themselves, I was pleased to find a new product, just on the market, that seems to be an answer to many questions. Not really important questions but questions nevertheless.

Belvedere Vodka has introduced a Lemon Tea version of its quality spirit. It is, I confess, very good. Maybe too good. And it opens up many possibilities for great summertime cocktails. Belvedere Lemon Tea Vodka is made from green tea, black tea, chamomile, lemongrass, honey, ginger and lemon. Almost sounds like a drink that can make itself. See statement above, opening sentence, preceding paragraph.

Belvedere Lemon Tea Green Goddess Pitch
5 oz Belvedere Lemon Tea
10 oz green tea
3 oz lemon juice
3 oz simple syrup
1 bunch mint

Add all ingredients to a pitcher with ice and stir. Garnish with blueberries, cucumber and slices of lemon.

Belvedere Lemon Tea Honey Sour
1 ½ oz Belvedere Lemon Tea Vodka
1 ½ oz. lemon juice
1 oz honey water
Dash egg white
Dash Angostura bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

Up until a few years ago, mixing alcohol with coffee meant hot coffee and some sort of brandy or maybe a strong whisky. The classic Café Brulot is one of the great après-dinner treats, particularly when it is done in the classic style. It’s not only a great drink but a great show. Sadly, many of New Orleans' grand restaurants have abandoned Café Brulot completely, or now offer a pale staging of the proper preparation tableside.

With the rise in popularity of coffee shops and the many iterations of iced coffees available to even the most casual consumer, we now have a whole range of new directions and reasons for taking our caffeine and alcohol in one gulp.

Iced Jamaican Coffee
1 oz dark rum
1 oz Tia Maria
¾ oz. heavy cream
4 oz chilled coffee
Crushed ice

Combine spirits, coffee and cream. Partially fill a large, Bordeaux-style wine glass with crushed ice, and pour mixture. Serve.

Rum and Coffee
4 cups brewed coffee, chilled
6 ounces white rum
2 ounces dark rum
4 to 5 tablespoons sugar
Whipped cream for garnish

Per serving, combine coffee, rum, sugar and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well until combined.

Strain mixture into a highball glass and top with whipped cream.

So, don’t curse the heat and humidity. Make the best of it by enjoying an iced tea or an iced coffee. Oh, and don’t forget to add your own “special” touch.

P.S. For those of you who are really into coffee, and I mean, “really, really ‘into’ coffee.” This upcoming week, Merchant, the dynamite new coffee house at 800 Common Street, and Domenica, the amazing Italian restaurant operated by John Besh in The Roosevelt, will each be hosting a coffee-making and coffee-pairing session with Master Barista Giorgio Milos.

Signore Milos earned his designation from the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, whose motto is “We Never Sleep.” Okay, so that’s not true, but I could not resist.

Anyway, Signore Milos will host a seminar, Demystifying Coffee, at Merchant on Monday, July 9, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Coffee, wine and crepes will be served and guests can learn about true Italian espresso from the Master. Incidentally, Merchant was just named by New Orleans Magazine as one of the Best New Restaurants of the Year.

The next evening, Tuesday, July 10, Domenica will host Signore Milos for a pizza-and-prosecco dinner, finishing with at least five different dessert and espresso pairings, 7:30-10 p.m.

Tickets are $100 for this two-night exploration of great Italian flavors and can be purchased at both Merchant and Domenica.

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

about

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 Happy Hour blogger for myneworleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, winetalknola.com; all in addition to his weekly hosting duties on "The Wine Show," a radio program entering its second decade of broadcasting in New Orleans. "The Wine Show with Tim McNally," is on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every Friday at 5 p.m.

Over the years, Tim has proved to be a master 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 came about many years ago from his 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.

The couple was instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major, well-regarded festival of its type both nationally and internationally. Tim and Brenda both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now more than 20 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, FL Wine Festival Competition, 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 in Auburn, Ala.

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.

You can reach Tim by email at timideas@bellsouth.net.

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