ALTHOUGH I WAS pretty lousy at chemistry, I always wanted a chemistry set. You remember what I am talking about. Those really cool kits that came neatly packaged with the beakers and test tubes and little glass pipettes and a microscope. Even the words associated with chemistry had sex appeal: osmosis and diffusion, solvents and solutes, acids, bases and combustion.
I always imagined myself precipitating a chemical reaction dressed in a white lab coat standing over a Bunsen burner with some concoction bubbling and hissing wildly as I stirred and chanted some voodoo prayer. Never did get that chemistry set.
But now, I have discovered that I can practice chemistry with my friends in my own kitchen. And we can consume our concoctions. And not die. In fact, we may even feel better.
I am referring to the craft cocktail, brewery and distillery movement that has swept across the country in recent years and has a strong presence on the Northshore in our local bars and restaurants.
Craft brew houses are prolific. The Barley Oak and Old Rail Brewing in Mandeville, the granddaddy of them all, Abita Brewery, and the Covington Brewhouse have earned local and national recognition. Louisiana entrepreneurs at New Orleans Rum, Bayou Rum and Rougaroux are true locavores and use only Louisiana grown sugar cane and other local products to distill and age their premium small batch rums. And, how many American cities have their own signature cocktail? New Orleans has the Sazerac, which has remained unchanged since 1874 and holds the distinct honor of being declared the official cocktail of the city.
The entire process of creating the perfect Louisiana summer cocktail enraptures me. From making the oversized ice cubes, to the preparation of infused fruit syrups, muddled herbs and shrubs, to the mixing of other local ingredients resulting in the beguiling summer cocktail.
I love the blackberry basil infused vodka cocktail at Lola in Covington.
Using local seasonal blueberries and homegrown basil, I have concocted a knock off basil blueberry infused drink that will satisfy your thirst on a hot summer night. Meet the Blueberry-Basil Vodka Martini.
Last week I discovered a locally made syrup from Louisiana sugar cane by Cocktail and Sons. I purchased the “Spiced Demarara” which is perfect for my Rye based Old Fashioned. Complex syrup for simple drinks. Stir and do not shake!
More recipes linked below! Don’t forget to send us your favorite summer drink recipe, too!