Last year when I was in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail I visited many a bar – some good, some… not so good – but without doubt my favourite was Arnaud’s French 75 Bar. Arnaud’s restaurant has been open in New Orleans since 1918, and the French 75 Bar operates in a separate room adjacent to the restautant with its own street entrance. A small but stunning space, with a beautiful wooden bar, mirrors galore and ornate light fixtures, the French 75 Bar is a wonderful refuge from the gaudy excesses of Bourbon Street and a great place to enjoy a cocktail or three.
On my last night in New Orleans I called in to Arnaud’s for a few drinks with Craig and Heather to toast goodbye to the Big Easy, and was lucky enough to find Chris Hannah behind the bar. A perfect host and excellent bartender, Chris guaranteed an enjoyable final evening, and amongst the excellent drinks he made for me he offered a sip of a drink of his own making, the Bywater Cocktail. A delcious mixture made with his own home-made falernum and Amer Picon, I quickly handed over a business card and made him promise to email me the recipe.
Chris was good on his word, and shortly after I got back to England Chris provided me with the recipe. I knew the modern, weaker Amer Picon wasn’t going to cut it in this drink, so set about creating Jamie Boudreau’s Amer Picon replica, Amer Boudreau. After steeping my orange peels in vodka I set off to pick up a bottle of Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters only to discover they are no longer available in the UK. I tried making the Bywater with Ramazzotti but it didn’t quite work, lacking the bright orange needed to help lift the drink from the other aromatic flavours. I feared I wouldn’t taste another Bywater until Tales 2009.
Thankfully a recent trip to New York allowed me to stock up on Blood Orange Bitters, and now eight months later I can finally make the Bywater as it is supposed to be.
- 1¾ shots / 52.5 ml / 1¾ oz gold rum (Cruzan 5 year old or Cruzan Single Barrel)
- ¾ shot / 22.5 ml / ¾ oz green Chartreuse
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz Amer Picon / Amer Boudreau
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz falernum
- Stir all ingredients with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry.
The mix of aged rum, Chartreuse and Amer Picon creates a beautiful mix of medicinal, aromatic flavours in the Bywater. Thankfully the orange notes of the Amer Picon and the zesty lime flavour of the falernum cut through this avoiding the drink becoming too muddy and bitter. Deep and complex yet excellently balanced the Bywater is a really wonderful drink, and I can’t wait to enjoy one made by Chris Hannah at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar next time I’m in New Orleans.
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