In Praise of St. George

With Mardi Gras this week, our thoughts turned to Old New Orleans, cradle of the American cocktail. Thank you to those who inquired as to absinthe, Herbsaint, Peychaud's bitters—it made our Mardi Gras commemoration a less lonely affair. And that slice of king cake? Over the top!

But in the end, we didn't raise a Sazerac on the eve of Lent. We had a different pick-me-up in mind: St. George Distillery's NOLA coffee liqueur. This is truly amazing stuff. You can use it anywhere you'd employ Kahlua. But it's not Kahlua.

To start with, it's not that syrupy sweet mocha-scented stuff you may remember from the '70s. This is for today's coffee culture. The maniacs at St. George (who also deliver a chile vodka that's like a liquid salad bar) start with cold-brewed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee. That's my jam, personally. Those high floral notes are put to wonderful use brewed with good ol' chicory root, in the Nawlins style. Then it's sweetened lightly with Madagascar vanilla and cane sugar.

Imagine a New Orleans cold-brew ice coffee, somehow alcoholitized to the tune of 40 proof. I doused it with some half-n-half and some Widow Jane rye. One was gone in a flash. Then another. Then I wanted to try it without the rye. And again. 

And suddenly the New Orleans tradition of the breakfast cocktail got very exciting indeed.