- John Edward Haase, David Wondrich and Philip Greene
Phil started things off with an overview of Storyville, the legalized red light district of New Orleans, circa 1897 to 1917. He talked about how New Orleans, first before the Civil War, and again at the turn of the century, was one of, if the the, epicenter for entertainment and “the high life” in America, sort of a Las Vegas before there was a Las Vegas. Phil talked about the grand hotels of the day, the saloons, and of course the legendary parlors, sporting houses, cribs, and other features of Storyville.
Some of the greatest artists in jazz played Storyville, notably King Oliver, Kid Ory, Toney Jackson and Jelly Roll Morton, not to mention the kid they called “Satchelmouth,” better known as Satchmo, the one and only Louis Armstrong.
In August, 1917, following the U.S.’ entry into WWI, “Secretary of War Newton Baker issued an order forbidding open prostitution within five miles of an Army cantonment, and a similar ruling was made by Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, respecting naval establishments. On October 2, 1917, Mayor Behrman introduced an ordinance in the City Council abolishing Storyville,” which officially closed midnight November 12, 1917.
And of course, they talked about some of the drinks. Phil and Dave started with one of the oldest New Orleans drinks, the Roffignac Cocktail. Created to honor one of New Orleans’ greatest mayors (1820-1828), it’s a delightful blend of Cognac (we used Martell’s VSOP), raspberry syrup, and seltzer. Phil noted that when Mayor Roffignac ended his term in 1828, Phil’s great-great-great-great uncle, Paul Mathias Anatole Peychaud, ran for the office, but lost to Denis Prieur. Four years later, Peychaud’s brother in law, Henri Duvivier Peire, also opposed Prieur, but also lost. Many researchers often confuse this Peychaud with the creator of cocktail bitters, Antoine Amedee Peychaud, but they were cousins. Enough about politics, here’s how to make the Roffignac Cocktail.
2 oz Martell’s V.S.O.P Cognac
1 oz Monin raspberry syrup
2 oz soda water
In an Old Fashioned glass, add ice, ingredients, and stir.
Another drink served to the crowd was the Absinthe Frappe. Dave and Phil briefly talked about how New Orleans was the mecca of absinthe culture from the late 1830s onward, and how and where it was served.
1 oz Pernod Absinthe
¼ to ½ oz simple syrup
1 oz soda water
Shake absinthe and simple syrup well with crushed ice, add soda water, stir, serve
David then presented the Three Graces Cocktail, a drink he discovered while researching the life of Alderman Story, for whom Storyville was named. The drink was one of the house drinks at one of the grandest hotels of the day, the St. Charles Hotel.
Three Graces Cocktail
¾ oz Dubonnet
¾ oz Martini & Rossi French Vermouth
1.5 oz Orange-infused Plymouth Gin
Beforehand, allow 2-3 orange slices to steep in a bottle of Plymouth Gin. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, add ice, stir well, strain into chilled cocktail glass
And finally, Dave and Phil talked about one of the greatest barmen of the pre-Prohibition era, Henry Ramos, who was best known for the Ramos Gin Fizz. The Ramos Creole Cocktail, while very similar to the Sazerac, offers a touch of orange and sweetness, owing from the inclusion of Orange Curacao. Here’s how!
Ramos Creole Cocktail
Small lump of sugar crushed in glass, three or four drops of Angostura bitters, four or five drops of Peychaud bitters, Two or three drops of Curacao, one jigger of whiskey; ice, and strain or drink with ice. A dash of Absinthe in the glass before pouring Cocktail in the glass (for aroma).
For more information on the Museum of the American Cocktail, and our seminars and events, please visit www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org