The Sazerac Bar

Before I went to New Orleans this past week, my ENT doc who is a New Orleans native said if I was going to have one cocktail that epitomized the city it was the Sazerac and not the Hurricane.

After I got to my conference I met a lady who was a native of Lake Charles who echoed my doctor’s recommendation. She went further and said I should have it at the place it originated – the Sazerac Bar. The bartender in the Hyatt agreed and said while he could make an “almost Sazerac” that my first one should be the real thing.

I know good advice where I hear it. Since I had an ample window of time between the close of the conference and when I had to leave for the airport, I walked over to the Roosevelt Hotel and went into the Sazerac Bar.

The first thing I should say is that the Roosevelt Hotel and the Sazerac Bar are like a step back in time to an era where men wore suits, women wore hats, and elegance was the rule and not the exception. The readers of Conde Nast Traveler recently voted the Roosevelt as their 2013 Reader’s Choice for hotels in New Orleans. Even more significant is that the Sazerac Bar was named the 3rd best hotel bar in the world in the Saveur Culinary Travel 2013 Awards.

My bartender Matthew knew his way around a bar and the Sazerac he made me was phenomenal. And this was before he heard that I was from western North Carolina. His in-laws are from here and he just loves the mountains of North Carolina.

The Sazerac itself consists of Sazerac’s 6-year old rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, a lump of sugar, and Herbsaint. The Sazerac was named the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana legislature back in 2008.

All I can say is that I need to go back to New Orleans not on business so that I can see more of the city and taste more of their distinctive cocktails.

A Man’s Gotta Eat

Louisiana repealed a 22 year old ban on hunting in portions of Orleans Parish, Louisiana yesterday. Orleans Parish is home to New Orleans as well as the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. While special youth-only waterfowl hunts have been allowed in the refuge for the last two years, this was only by special exemption.

On Tuesday the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) voted to repeal a ban on all hunting for portions of the Orleans Parrish. The ban was originally instated in 1991 by the LWFC to assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in establishing the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. More than 20 years later, the refuge is now currently the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country and plays host to an increasing amount of young waterfowlers.

Bayou Sauvage is entirely within the city limits of New Orleans and is the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country.

It will be up to the City of New Orleans as to what other hunting will be allowed within their city limits outside of the National Wildlife Refuges. They currently allow limited deer hunting in certain swamps within the city limits. The latest figures from the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries shows 15 deer taken in the 2011-12 season in Orleans Parish.

Keith Westlake, a wildlife specialist with the refuge noted that they were starting to have problems with feral hogs.

Striking down the ban could potentially allow hunters to pursue feral hogs, which are causing problems outside the refuge. Westlake said that beginning in 2011 wildlife officials have culled 575 pigs from the area to reduce the damage the animals can cause. Feral hogs are an increasingly critical problem for conservationists and hunting regulations for these animals are generally lax.

For now the area’s alligators seem to be enjoying the lack of competition, as well as the carcasses left behind by management hunts.

I imagine some of the more imaginative chefs in New Orleans might find a better use for wild hogs than as food for alligators. I certainly hope so.