La Louisiane

Clinton Cawood unearths the lesser-known New Orleans classic La Louisiane.

Next time you’re stirring a Sazerac or shaking the hell out of a Ramos Gin Fizz, spare a thought for an unfairly neglected New Orleans classic – A La Louisiane, or De La Louisiane, depending on who you’re asking.

This punchy, complex cocktail bears more than a passing resemblance to both the Manhattan and the Vieux Carré, and you’ll find arguments, some more convincing than others, that it predates either one or both.

What we do know is that it was the house cocktail of the French Quarter restaurant and hotel of the same name, established in the late 1800s. The drink itself is aptly named, with its diverse ingredients echoing the multicultural character of New Orleans.

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At its core is rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and Bénédictine, originally in equal parts although modern specs, including that found in Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book, quite rightly increase the proportion of rye. These are joined by dashes of absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters, stirred, strained and served with a maraschino cherry.

It’s distinct enough from both the Vieux Carré and the Manhattan, but close enough to justify similar classic-cocktail status. As if we didn’t already owe the Crescent City enough of a cocktail-related debt…