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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Cocktails that complete me:
Cocktail a la Louisiane and the Oriental

By Jason Wilson
oriental_opt.jpg Oriental Cocktail (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

As I soldier on with my New Year's campaign to complete The List of 100 classic must-drink cocktails (a challenge issued by Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston), I offer two more rye whiskey cocktails that I had previously never tried, the Cocktail a la Louisiane and the Oriental Cocktail.

But first, let me ask you a question? What would you give to someone who saved your life? Well, according to the apocryphal story surrounding the Oriental Cocktail, perhaps you'd give them your favorite cocktail recipe? According to "The Savoy Cocktail Book" (Constable & Co., 1930):

"In August 1924, an American Engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines, and only the extraordinary devotion of Dr. B— saved his life. As an act of gratitude, the Engineer gave Dr. B— the recipe of this Cocktail."

Recipe Included

Now, this story raises several issues for me. First, AP Stylebook be damned, I would like to go back to the style of capitalizing the word "Cocktail." Next, if this recipe was so special, how did Harry Craddock, bartender at London's Savoy Hotel, end up getting his hands on it? Did Dr. B— pass it on to him in appreciation for a well-made drink? Or did the American Engineer give this drink recipe to everyone...meaning maybe he actually owed Dr. B— a little more for saving his life? Hmmm...

At any rate, there's absolutely nothing suggesting "the Orient" in the Oriental Cocktail. Perhaps this is a case where a dated, antiquated, pejorative name has doomed a Cocktail to the dustbin of history. The Oriental Cocktail is really just a Manhattan that replaces bitters with "curacao" (or preferably Cointreau) and adds a little lime juice. It's a pretty nice cocktail, and perhaps in need a new name. Readers, feel free to chime in.

louisane_opt.jpg Cocktail a la Louisiane (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

The second Cocktail this week takes us to New Orleans, certainly one of my favorite Cocktail cities. New Orleans, of course, has given us many classic Cocktails, including the Sazerac, the Boston Punch, and my favorite, the Vieux Carre. The Cocktail a la Louisiane is a cousin to the Vieux Carre -- basically, it leaves out the cognac and increases the amount of Benedictine in the mix. It is flat-out delicious and gives the Vieux Carre a real run for its money. One thing to remember for the Sazerac, the Vieux Carre and the Cocktail a la Louisiane: Always use the red, gentian-based Peychaud's bitters, which were, of course, invented in New Orleans as well.

Oriental Cocktail
1 serving

According to "The Savoy Cocktail Book," this recipe comes from an American engineer who nearly died of fever while working in the Philippines in 1924. In appreciation, he gave this secret recipe to the doctor who saved his life.

Adapted from "The Savoy Cocktail Book," by Harry Craddock (Constable & Co., 1930).

1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Twist of orange peel, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the rye, Cointreau, vermouth and lime juice. Shake well, then double-strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass. Garnish with the twist of orange peel.

Cocktail a la Louisiane
1 serving

This is a variation on another New Orleans classic, the Vieux Carre. (See related recipe.)

Adapted from "Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em," by Stanley Clisby Arthur (Pelican, 1977; first published 1937).

3/4 ounce rye whiskey
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Benedictine
3 to 4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 to 3 dashes absinthe (may use an absinthe substitute, such as Pernod)
Twist of lemon peel, for garnish

Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the rye whiskey, vermouth, Benedictine and the bitters and absinthe to taste. Stir vigorously, then strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass. Garnish with the twist of lemon peel.

By Jason Wilson  | January 7, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Spirits  | Tags:  Cocktails That Complete Me, Jason Wilson  
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Let's tax him.


Cocktails That Complete Me has got to be the best title of any article/book/movie yet. The Oriental should be renamed in your honor, something original like, The Jason.

Posted by: jll2008 | January 7, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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