Gisele Perez was born in New Orleans, LA, a fact of which she is extremely proud. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was a child, joining the mass migration from Louisiana in the1950′s, but made regular visits back to New Orleans throughout her childhood, and continues the pilgrimages as often she can. She is currently the owner of Small Pleasures, a full service boutiquecatering company, in Los Angeles, CA. She blogs at www.smallpleasurescateringblog.com and www.painperdublog.com, and is a lifestyle columnist at www.LAFoodExaminer.com and www.LAPartyPlanningExaminer.com.
“The cocktails are very serious here, ladies, we take cocktails seriously.” Ti Adelaide Martin, co-proprietor of the legendary New Orleans restaurant, Commander’s Palace, advised a colleague and me as we sat down to join her for lunch there last summer, urging us to imbibe.
“Most places you go, you get a horrible cocktail, so most people say just give me a glass of wine. I’m not going to drink this- whatever, this stupid drink you have.”
Then she really warmed to the task, pulling out In the Land of the Cocktails, Recipe and Adventures From the Cocktail Chicks, penned with her fellow CP proprietor and cousin, Lally Brennan, an ode and guide to true cocktails, dedicated to bartenders everywhere who care about well made cocktails, and to their beloved New Orleans and its resilient citizens.
The little guide is filled with recipes (and great stories) for legendary Crescent City cocktails from the Sazerac to Brandy Milk Punch, a must have for Mardi Gras, they tell us.
“But my favorite drink is a Daiquiri,” Martin proclaims, a real Daiquiri, invented in Daiquiri, Cuba. It’s just lime juice, rum and sugar- that’s all there is, but it has to be in perfect proportions, it has to be exactly right, you know, and not too sweet.”
And Martin would know. She amused us with tales of her mother (Grande Dame of New Orleans restaurants, Ella Brennan) and uncle traveling to Cuba in pursuit of the perfect Daiquiri.
“They loved it, even back then. In those days, they used to go to Cuba like we go to Florida. They’d say, why can’t we make a Daiquiri exactly like they make in Cuba”?
“First they would bring home the ice- no, that’s not it. Then they would bring home the limes- well, tha
t’s not it. Then they would try to bring home the rum. You know what I mean…”
“The first time I had a Daiquiri”, Martin shares in the book, “it was as mind- boggling as the first time I had quality sushi, which tasted pure, clean and like the sea. I couldn’t get enough. I had the same problem with Daiquiris.”
The Brennan elders have perfected their Daiquiri since those Cuba trip days. Martin shares their technique and proportions for the ideal version, so that the rest of us can work on achieving that perfection, and fall in love with the cocktail, too.
The Original Daiquiri
It’s important to use the right rum, Martin states, a light rum which is clear and dry. Save the dark rum for Mai Tais.
• 2 lime wedges
• 1 cube sugar
• 1.5 ounces light rum
• Up to 1 teaspoon Simple Syrup (which is optional for balance if the limes are too bitter)
1. Muddle the limes and sugar cube in a rocks glass to break down the sugar and lime When muddling the limes, you should be able to get a good 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of lime juice. If the limes are a bit dry, use another wedge or two. Be careful not to muddle too much, or the juice will become bitter. Add the rum and stir well. Taste the drink and adjust with a little Simple Syrup, if desired.
2. Add ice to fill the glass to the rim and serve.
Martin adds the Daiquiris are traditionally served on the rocks, but their bar chef at the Swizzle Stick, Lu, serves hers with crushed ice, giving them an almost frozen effect-but, heaven forbid, Martin adds, not made in a blender.