September 21, 2012

What I’m Drinking: Roffignac

This drink was named for, and was a favorite of, Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac, who escaped the revolutionary neck-chopper in France and went on to become beloved Mayor of New Orleans from 1820 to 1828. He was a hit among the hoi polloi because, among other things, he introduced street lighting, put in the original French Quarter cobblestones, and drank a lot of this drink.

The drink itself, sadly, has gone out of favor in the intervening days and nights. Probably due to a lack of one of its main ingredients: Red Hembarig. I myself, to be honest, when first writing about this drink in Good Spirits, thought one could probably sub in grenadine or some raspberry syrup for this missing German ingredient (and, honestly, you can, but the drink’s not nearly as good—really, if you do, call it something else entirely). But since then I’ve done a bit more research, and read some more research, and now believe that as the German word for raspberry is “himbeere” and that the German word for vinegar is “essig” that the proper way to have this drink is with a raspberry-vinegar concoction. Which isn’t so wacky as it may sound, as the original famous bartender, Jerry Thomas, has three recipes for the same thing in one version of his late 1880s famous Bar-Tenders Guide). And you know what? With the raspberry-vinegar combo, this drink really sings, and is a swell memorial to ol’ Mayor Louis.

Ice cubes

2 ounces Cognac

1/2 ounce Red Hembarig (or some sort of raspberry-vinegar syrup—see Note)

Chilled club soda

1. Fill a highball glass up with ice cubes. Add the cognac and the Red Hembarig-esque syrup. Stir once.

2. Top the glass off with club soda. Stir once again.

A Note: You could definitely get a bit more serious about the aging of raspberries-and-vinegar here. But, in a pinch, this recipe delivers dandy results. Start by muddling two cups raspberries a bit in a bowl, then add a cup of apple cider vinegar, and stir briefly. Let sit for, oh, overnight at least. Then add everything plus 3 cups sugar and 3/4 cup water to a saucepan. Heat to a simmer, let simmer for around 10 minutes, then take off the heat and let it cool completely in the pan. If you have time, let the whole combo sit together overnight in the fridge. Then, strain through a fine strainer (you may need a spoon to push the fun stuff through) and then cheesecloth. Keep in the fridge.

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