Sunday, December 20, 2009

Martin Wine Cellar - New Orleans

Martin Wine Cellar
3500 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA
Call for hours – open some Sundays during the holidays

By Jane Feehan

On a recent visit to the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans I tried what is disputably “America’s first cocktail,” the Sazerac. Thought to be named by John Schiller in 1859 this drink was made famous by the Roosevelt and Fairmont hotels (same location, different ownership over the years). If not America’s first cocktail, it could certainly be considered the New Orleans cocktail. The Roosevelt uses the Sazerac Rye brand and was kind enough to mention where they buy it. They hooked me up to Martin Wine Cellar by phone (how's that for service) to make sure it was in stock. It was and I made my way there.

Martin Wine Cellar has a wonderful selection of wines, champagnes, whiskeys, including Sazerac Rye (about $20) – and a vast array of adult beverages. In addition to the rye, I also looked for one of my favorite red wines, a Jumilla (pronounced hue-MILL-ah) from southwest Spain between LaMancha and the Mediterranean. Martin had a couple, which made the trip from Biloxi entirely worth it. A good Jumilla is next to impossible to find along the Mississippi Coast.

Martin Wine Cellar also carries a nice selection of cheeses, gourmet food gift baskets, crackers and cookies – goodies not permitted in Mississippi’s state-controlled liquor stores. Martin has four locations – Magazine Street, New Orleans, Mandeville, Metairie and Baton Rouge. The staff is eager to assist and they know their inventory.

The Roosevelt Hotel recipe for the Sazerac: ( )
1 cube sugar
1 1/2oz rye whiskey
1/4oz Herbsaint
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
lemon peel, for garnish

Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube. Add the rye whiskey to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

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