This is a gorgeous drink, perfect for brunching. Now that absinthe is once again legal in the United States, it's the preferred base spirit for this drink. If it's not yet available in your area, substitute Herbsaint for a true New Orleans flavor. In a pinch, any good pastis will work. Orgeat is an almond-flavored syrup, widely available from a number of commercial sources, including bartender-made artisanal versions. (We're fans of Small Hands Foods' orgeat, to name but one). It's also not difficult to make it at home.

Version 1

Combine ingredients in a blender, whizz for 5 seconds and pour into a chilled goblet or rocks glass.

Version 2

In his classic Famous New Orleans Drinks and how to mix 'em, Stanley Clisby Arthur gives an entirely different recipe for the Suissesse. I'm far more used to the one above, which is what you'll get if you order them just about anywhere in New Orleans. However, apparently if you ordered one in 1937 you were likely to get the following, which is ... well, certainly interesting!

Mix the sugar with the sparkling water, vermouth and absinthe. Add the egg white. Fill the glass with cracked ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a champagne glass in which there is a cherry with crème de menthe poured over it.

(Strange indeed. I may have to try it one day; then again, I may not, as I am not a fan of crème de menthe in the least.)


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Chuck Taggart   email chuck (at) gumbopages (dot) com