Wait, Those Rumors About Tujague’s Are TRUE?

Tujague's (photo by Suzanne Johnson)Well, this ain’t good.

Not long after Tujague’s owner, Steven Latter, passed away in February, we began hearing rumors that the bar/restaurant might be closing.

Naturally, we dismissed such talk as complete nonsense. Tujague’s is ancient. It predates the Civil War (which is ancient in the U.S.). Heck, it opened in the 1850s: it predates much of America. In a city like New Orleans, so devoted to its iconic institutions, there’s no way Tujague’s is going to close.

But now we’re not so sure. When Gambit Weekly asked Latter’s son, Mark Latter, about those rumors, he dodged the question, complaining about the number of “variables” that go into making such a decision. Which does not sound promising AT ALL.

Look, we know that as a restaurant, Tujague’s has seen better days. If you want solid Creole fare, there are plenty of other options in New Orleans. (Although their brisket with horseradish is several bites of heaven.)

But as bars go, there’s nothing like Tujague’s. It’s in a great location, and it’s got a great look: there are no chairs at the bar itself, just a brass bar running along the bottom for tipplers to prop up a foot. It’s not the sort of place we long to spend hours in, like, say, Napoleon House or Cosimo’s — but it doesn’t have to be. Tujague’s is the place we can pop in for a quickie en route to a party, the place where we can seek refuge from inclement weather (or from hordes of frat boys and sorority girls) while sipping a smart cocktail. It’s unique to the city and its drinking landscape.

Yes, we understand the demands of business, and we appreciate the fact that businesses should never outlast their moment (cf. telegraph operators, bromide manufacturers, MySpace). But Tujague’s seems so timeless, it would be hard to let go.

Spring Fling: The Cooper’s Folly Cocktail

Cooper's FollyHere in New Orleans, the weather is changing. It’s the two- or three-week period we call spring, during which Mother Nature teeters on the fence before throwing us into full-tilt summer.

Once that happens, we’ll switch almost entirely to chilled drinks, like nice, frosty Pimm’s Cups and the occasional frozen Separator. But for now, we’re going to enjoy the Cooper’s Folly — a cocktail consisting of mezcal, vermouth, pineapple syrup, and sage leaves. Given that last ingredient, it could probably work just as well in the fall, but frankly, we’re not inclined to wait.

Bartendro: The End Of Boozing As We Know It?

BartendroBartendro is a new gadget at the center of a Kickstarter campaign. In a nutshell, it’s an automated system for serving cocktails: just link your tablet or smartphone to Bartendro’s software, select your favorite cocktail, and wait for it to be dispensed.

On the one hand, we appreciate the ingenuity behind Bartendro. A quick look at the demo video shows that the machine was harder than you might think to create.

Also, automated service like this seems to be the way of the future. Over the past decade or so, countless bars have begun placing gizmos on the spouts of their liquor bottles to measure “perfect pours”. We’re sure the manufacturers of such devices claim that they help bartenders make better drinks, but the bottom line is that they control costs by preventing barkeeps from giving away the shop. Bartendro is the logical next step in that evolution.

On the hand…well, on the other hand, where do we start?

First and foremost, Bartendro can only make the most basic of cocktails on its own. Until the designers coax the machine into shaking, stirring, muddling fruit, chilling glasses, and adding rims of salt, it’s probably not going to be very useful. For parties? Maybe. For serious drinkers who appreciate a mixologist’s touch? Not so much. It’s the kind of thing that might come in handy at some Bourbon Street bars, or on the Vegas strip, but elsewhere, the appeal will be limited.

Second — and perhaps most importantly — Bartendro obviously lacks the human element. If we wanted to drink pitch-perfect gin-and-tonics, we could do so at home. We go out, in part, to be social with friends, strangers, and — yes — the bartender. At this point, Bartendro doesn’t even have the personality of Rosie the Robot, much less that of a bona fide mixologist.

Like cooking, mixing cocktails is an activity that can be replicated by machine, but given today’s technology, the products — and the experience of consuming them — lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Going forward, there will obviously be a demand for Bartendro and its ilk, and in fact, the Kickstarter project will likely reach its $135,000 goal. But until the machine learns how to smile, listen to our problems, and improvise at our request, we’ll stick with our human barkeeps.

Rachel Maddow Serves Up A Corpse Reviver #2

Corpse Reviver #2We know, we know: we’ve been awfully quiet lately. Chalk it up to encroaching deadlines. We submitted our rough draft for the French Quarter Drinking Companion in November, and ever since, we’ve been busy making edits, perfecting pics, and generally getting it ready for the presses. We’ll update you as soon as we have more details about the publication date and the parties we’ll host to celebrate.

In the meantime, we invite you to answer this question:

Q: What’s better than Rachel Maddow’s insightful take on the news?

A: Rachel Maddow making a seriously schnockering cocktail.

At the end of Friday’s broadcast of The Rachel Maddow Show, our fave newshound did something she hasn’t done in a while: she made a drink. And it wasn’t just any drink, but a Corpse Reviver — specifically, the Corpse Reviver #2.

Corpse Revivers were initially hangover remedies — a little like the bloody marys we drink today, but oh, so much stronger.

The basic Corpse Reviver is made with cognac and brandy and a little vermouth. It’s stout, but simple. You could probably get a bartender at Applebee’s to make it, in a pinch.

The Corpse Reviver #2, though? That’s a work of art involving Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, and two drops — no more! — of absinthe. Watch Rachel make one on national television, and should you decide to follow her lead, sip slowly.

There’s A New Booze In Town: Buck 25 Vodka

Yes, there’s a new, locally made vodka from New Orleans’ own Atelier Vie. That name, BTW, roughly translates as “Studio Life” or, in a pinch, “Life Workshop”, which is vaguely ironic since “work” will be the last thing on anyone’s mind after sampling Atelier Vie’s newest offering — a 125-proof vodka called Buck 25.

Atelier Vie tells Gambit that the whole point of doing high-octane booze isn’t to get you hammered, but to leave more room in the glass for mixers, since you can use smaller shots of the stuff. But also, it will get you hammered — and fast. (It should also be extremely flammable. Mind those cigarettes.)

Check out the interview at Best of New Orleans — or turn down your speakers and visit the Atelier Vie website. (Note: there’s a loud video set to auto-play. You’ve been warned.)

Offbeat Cocktails For In-Between Seasons

We know we’ve been a little quiet lately, but we have an excuse: we have a publisher for our book! More on that later, when we can share a few more details.

For now, we encourage you to enjoy a thoughtful New York Times column by Rosie Schaap on the joys of seasonal drinking. Specifically, Schaap talks about the no-man’s-land of fall, and how that affects her cocktail palate:

Though I will welcome a full-fledged reunion with brown liquor and its comforts soon enough, this in-between time calls for in-between drinks. Summer seems to insist that we return its favors with equal sunniness in a glass. Late September doesn’t mind if we let a few shadows in. And where cocktails are concerned, this can get interesting, without any undue gravitas.

That’s some fancy writing, ain’t it?

Anyway, Schaap suggest some…unusual beverages for this time of year. Which ones? Click through and have a look.


Three Spectacular Summer Cocktails

A couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth told you about the Bon Appetit Grub Crawl and mentioned that the friendly folks at Belvedere had shared a few recipes for knockout summer cocktails. Here are three of our favorites — each associated with a particular stop on the Crawl.

There are two things to note, though:

1: There aren’t any measures here because (a) the recipes are pretty self-explanatory, (b) you’re smart enough to figure this out, and (c) we want you to feel comfortable experimenting with flavors until you get these drinks just the way you like them. Also, (d) we didn’t receive any measures.

2: It should be obvious that these recipes will work with any vodka you happen to have lying around the icebox, but since these are such simple cocktails, and since vodka plays such a prominent role, you should probably stick to a call brand rather than the stuff you pick up at CVS for $5 a gallon. But whatever: it’s your stomach.

STELLA: Raison D’Etre
Belvedere Vodka
Northshore Organic Honey
Meyer Lemon Juice
Sparkling Organic Cassis

STANLEY: Belvedere Lemon Tea Stanley Screamer
Belvedere Lemon Tea Vodka
Simple Syrup
Hot Tea

NAPOLEON HOUSE: Belvedere Madras
Belvedere Vodka
Orange Juice