New Orleans is known for its amazing culinary scene based around traditional dishes that have stood the test of time. The Crescent City is also known for its cocktails and drinks. It's time to pair up these classics for the ultimate New Orleans food and cocktail pairing guide prepared by Chris Hannah, from French 75 Bar in Arnaud's; Steven Yamada, from R'evolution in the Royal Sonesta Hotel; Abigail Gullo, from SoBou; and Tiffany Soles, from Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse. These seasoned NOLA bartenders expertly paired these classics to bring a bright burst of Big Easy flavor to your next meal!
Want more delicious classics? Then see part 2 of the ultimate New Orleans food and cocktail pairing guide.
Gumbo & Death in the Afternoon
Take the hearty, spicy gumbo dish that has been known as a Creole staple since the 18th century and pair with the Death in the Afternoon cocktail. Ernest Hemingway, himself, invented this strong drink. His original recipe instructions said to "pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly." When paired with gumbo, the Champagne keeps your palate refreshed, while the absinthe mingles nicely with the seasonings in the gumbo.
Jambalaya & Sazerac
New Orleans jambalaya is a hearty rice dish loaded with chicken, sausage, rice and the holy trinity of celery, bell peppers and onions. It's heritage is a mix of Caribbean, Spanish and French influences. Sazerac is the official drink of New Orleans. Prepare by taking an absinthe-lined glass and Sazerac rye whiskey — they are a great native pairing! When tasted together, the Sazerac is strong enough to cut through the savory goodness of the jambalaya and while there is a hint of sweetness, the spiciness of the rye helps to draw out the heat from the jambalaya, allowing the flavors to linger on your palate.
Muffuletta & Cajun Martini
Central Grocery in the French Quarter claims to have been the creator of the muffuletta. This Italian-influenced sandwich stacks capicola, mortadella, salami, pepperoni, ham and provolone with a marinated olive salad. The Cajun Martini or "Hot-n-Dirty Martini" puts a little spice in your glass with peppar vodka, jalepeno-stuffed olives and a splash of Tabasco. When paired together, the vodka helps to clear your palate as you enjoy all that meat and cheese. The olive juice pairs well with the tapenade and the Tabasco kicks it up a little.
Oysters Rockefeller & Gin Daisy
Antoine's in New Orleans is the creator of this dish, serving it since 1899. It's a brilliant way to serve baked oysters with a rich white sauce, Parmesan cheese and capers. The Gin Daisy is a cocktail consisting of gin, simple syrup and orange cordial. When paired together, the gin and citrus pair well with the oysters and help to cut through the savory richness of the sauces.
Bananas Foster & La Louisiane
Bananas Foster was created by Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans and is so popular, they serve 35,000 pounds of bananas in a year! The combination of bananas flambéed in sugar and rum then topped with ice cream makes for a rich, sweet dessert. The La Louisiane is a tasty cocktail of whiskey, absinthe and bitters. When paired together it is strong enough to stand up to the richness of Bananas Foster and the absinthe adds a nice unexpected pop of flavor.