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Substituting Peychaud's Bitters in Sazeracs:


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9 replies to this topic

#1 MiguelCardoso

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Posted 21 March 2004 - 06:37 PM

Thank you so much, Gary and Mardee, for taking questions!

I've recently become a Sazerac fan - I make both the old-style cognac-based ones as well as American-rye-based. I've tried several full-proof European absinthes to coat the glass, as well as several French pastis. Yet I'd like to know exactly what brand would be used in a good New Orleans Bar.

My main problem, however, is Peychaud's Bitters, unobtainable here. I've tried Angostura, other orange bitters - even tried making my own almond and cherrystone bitters - but, as I don't know what Peychaud's tastes like, I'm at a loss. My intention is not to make a good Sazerac but an authentic one. Any suggestions?

If you're still feeling generous, do you have any European substitution ideas for the orgeat syrup used in Mai Tais? We use bitter almond liqueur here but the extra alcohol gets in the way.

Many thanks for any advice (though your Bartenders' Bible is near at hand, of course)!

All the very best,

Miguel



P.S. There was this wonderful pub in Seaport where I always went when I was in Manhattan, many years ago - I can't remember the name but it had great Irish and British beers and an astounding collection of whiskies. The food - fish and chips; steak and kidney pie - was superb, as it was quite difficult to find back then. The main bartender there was an affable chap who looked a lot like you and knew a hell of a lot about cocktails and Irish whiskey. I remember he served particularly generous measures of the Midleton, too. Was it you by any chance? Excuse the silly question if he was just a dead ringer or my mind's playing tricks. :)

#2 Gary Regan

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 12:05 PM

Hi Miguel:

Bars in New Orleans tend to use Herbsaint, an absinthe substitute made by the Sazerac Company of New Orleans--the same people who make Peychaud's.

There's no substitute that I know of for Peychaud's bitters, but I'm going to get in touch with Sazerac this week, and see if there's a way you can get them in Europe.

As for orgeat, I think you should be able to get Monin syrups in Portugal. Try going to www.monin.com

And yes, that was me at the North Star Pub in the South Street Seaport in Manhattan, if you were there between 1988 & 1992. I was actually a manager there, but sometimes went behind the bar to help out. That was one of my all-time favorite gigs. We had great fun there.
“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

#3 MiguelCardoso

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 12:46 PM

So it was you, Gary! The North Star, indeed! I feel guilty now, because as an ardent reader of your excellent Ardent Spirits web site, I shoulda known.

I remember staying up all night to buy fish at the Fulton fish market, then spending the whole morning catching books in a wonderful discount book shop just back of the pub, buying fascinating maritime stuff in a weird shop right next to you and finally repairing, about midday, to the North Star. Thanks for being so kind to me - and others you treated equally well. How lucky I was to catch you!

Monin is indeed the main supplier in Portugal - though frowned upon because they make sugary non-alcoholic drinks for outrageous prices (a 7 decilitre bottle of simple sugar syrup which costs 10 cents to make at home retails for 10 euros/dollars). But I guess I'll pony up for the almond syrup.

Herbsaint is unavailable but I'll have a friend ship it in exchange for Port.

Thanks for being honest about Peychaud's. Please don't go to any trouble on my account. I'm a great fan of the magnificent Sazerac 18-year-old rye whiskey: the only bottle I actually hide from my friends, as it's so difficult to come by. The Rip Van Winkle, on the other hand, is freely available to the maids. (Just kiddin'!)

A friend of mine bought a bottle in London a few years back. Like Angostura, I imagine so little is used that it's not really a commercial proposition. My late father used to say that the depressing thing about Angostura was that you knew that the little bottle would outlive you...

Might I also thank Jason Perlow and eGullet for allowing people from all over the world to actually communicate with those writers and gastronomes who have so bettered and influenced our lives? :)

#4 Gary Regan

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 02:05 PM

Robert (DrinkBoy) just e-mailed me to remind me to tell you that you might want to add just a little orange flower water to the almond syrup to properly duplicate orgeat. Now you know why we need Robert around!
“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

#5 trillium

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 03:32 PM

If you can find it, Sciroppo's Orzata is made in the traditional fashion (bitter almond and orange flower (with a touch of vanilla if I had to guess)) and works really well in cocktails.

regards,
trillium

#6 MiguelCardoso

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 06:43 PM

Thanks, Gary, Drinkboy and trillium.

It was only when I saw it written in Italian I figured it might be related to the Spanish horchata, made from tiger nuts. I've never tried it but I will now.

*wonders what a Mai Tai made with the original centuries-old tiger nut horchata tastes like.*

#7 Gary Regan

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 06:15 AM

I got an answer from Mark Brown, CEO of the Sazerac Company, about getting Peychaud's bitters in Portugal. Mark is a very casual sort for a CEO (and has a great sense of humor), so his answer, though not definitive, is typical!

"my guess is that if he orders from our online site, we will ship it to Portugal."

So, Miguel, get yourself off to www.sazerac.com, or go to the gift shop at www.buffalotrace.com (where you can pay by credit card). Please let us know how it works out.
“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

#8 Comfort Me

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 08:43 AM

Paychaud's Bitters can be purchased here. Much as you might try, there really is no substitute.
Aidan

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#9 MiguelCardoso

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 12:02 PM

Wow! Talk about a proper answer...!

Thanks ever so much, Gary!

Cheers for the link, Comfort Me!

What more could I ask for? I hope I can return the favours someday! :)

Edited by MiguelCardoso, 23 March 2004 - 12:04 PM.


#10 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 12:33 PM

I got an answer from Mark Brown, CEO of the Sazerac Company, about getting Peychaud's bitters in Portugal. Mark is a very casual sort for a CEO (and has a great sense of humor), so his answer, though not definitive, is typical!

Sazerac is a GREAT company. Family owned and operated for a very long time. Bill Goldring is one of the biggest philanthropists in the Gulf South (recently he donated a ton to the Ogden Museum). He also has done a great job in turning a really good local business into one of the largest liquor distributors in the South. They are all over Fla., Texas, Ark, La, Tn, and several other states. Goldring and the former CEO-Peter Bordeaux-pretty much are the ones who figured out the single barrel bourbon market (the whole thing started as a marketing ploy to a Japanese market that was willing to pay anything for something different) as it was not even a real product (face it, all bourbon comes from single barrels). Besides liquor, they are also into beer distributing and distilling.

Disclosure: One of his companies (Crown Beverage-Coors Dist. in N.O.) was (and still is) the distributor for Abita Beer when I was still there.
Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...