Obscurity is the lifeblood of the hipster, ever in search of the newest/weirdest/nichest drink/neighbourhood/band in a bid to cement their authenticity, their oneness with all things underground. Because let’s get this straight: by the time the hoi polloi have heard of something, it’s totally passé. Yeah?
Cue your new favourite tipple, the enigmatic La Louisiane, a cocktail so obfuscated by time that you’d be hard-pressed to find a bartender below 50 who’s heard of it. That’ll rack you up some serious boozing cachet, should you ever find yourself in a room with that guy.
Hailing from the bowels of New Orleans’ French Quarter, this deceptively simple number has the complexity of flavour (herbaceous, floral notes over syrupy sweetness with burnished, smoky undertones) and enough eerie connotations (voodoo, mystic herbs) to make it a cult classic.
Cocktail La Louisiane – its original name – was historically built on rye, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Peychaud’s bitters and absinthe, and could be likened to a Vieux Carré, the better-known and powerfully punchy 1930s recipe named for the city’s French Quarter, which includes the addition of cognac.
“La Louisiane historically had a rye base,” says Martina Brezanova’s, from London jazz-and-cocktail den Nightjar. “Then it had Benedictine liqueur, bitters, sweet vermouth and absinthe added. We added the twist of introducing a burnt oak husk infusion, so Johnnie Walker’s smoothness worked beautifully.”
“Additionally, vermouth helps to provide freshness, and the absinthe – made of roots and sugar – also adds a unique and secret blend of herbs.”
Perhaps its coolest quality, however, is that it uses agnus castus, a herb from voodoo rituals. Will LaLouisiane cast a spell on us? “Well, it’s a strong, boozy drink,” says Brezanova. So expect some delirium at the very least.
But we don’t want everyone knowing about it – so don’t tell your friends. In fact, forget you’ve read this. A couple of glasses should set your memory right.
La Louisiane (Serves 2)
90ml Johnnie Walker Gold
60ml Mancino Rosso Amaranto vermouth
10ml Grand Marnier
4 dashes absinthe
2 pinches agnus castus (monk’s pepper)
Chilled coupette glass
“Johnnie Walker Gold’s blend is not only smooth, but it is great to adapting to different flavours. You could work with any kind of whisky, but the flavour profile that’s created through the infusions is really important.
“Head to any health food shop for agnus castus. You want the grain: it looks like pepper and it’s also know as monk’s pepper, with a similar flavour to myrrh. If you’re brave, head to a voodoo shop to find it.”
- Add the whisky, vermouth, Benedictine, Grand Marnier, absinthe and herbs to a chilled cocktail shaker.
- Stir well until everything is completely combined.
- Using both hands, strain the drink through a Hawthorne strainer (held flush with the opening of the shaker) and a small fine sieve positioned over your glass.
- Serve as cold as possible.
From Delicious To Stratospheric
“You can make it more delicious by using your senses. If you want to play up the voodoo theme, you could make a voodoo doll garnish from absinthe jelly or chocolate. Use your imagination.”