Creole Cocktail

Creole Cocktail with a lemon twist garnish

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The Creole Cocktail first appears in Hugo Ensslin's "Recipes for Mixed Drinks" published in 1916, just before Prohibition. Ensslin worked in New York so despite the name Creole the drink is more likely to be from New York than New Orleans. Like many recipes of the era it takes a Manhattan and sweetens it up a little by adding some liqueur. In this respect it is not unlike the De La Louisiane, which is a New Orleans drink, switching out the absinthe for the more mellow Amer Picon. We came across the recipe in The Cocktail Seminars and Imbibe Magazine where the recipe has been adjusted to suit modern tastes.

Amer Picon presents a bit of a problem. It is a bitter orange liqueur only available in France these days and even that version was reformulated in the 1970s and the alcohol content reduced from 39% to 18%. Several alternatives have been suggested. We tried the Creole Cocktail with Amaro CioCiaro; it is pleasant but a little sweet. Golden Moon Amer dit Picon is often proposed as the best substitute for Amer Picon but we found it too bitter and lacking sweetness. Bigallet China-China Amer, a French bitter orange liqueur with the same alcohol content as Amer Picon, has a better sweetness and makes a good drink. However, our best result is with Jamie Boudreau's do-it-yourself recipe for Amer Picon, said to be very close to the original. It is a little more bitter and less sweet than Bigallet China-China Amer and makes a fine cocktail.

Amer Boudreau

Jamie's original recipe is enough to make 9 pints of Amer Boudreau so here it is scaled down to make 4 oz.

For the orange tincture fill any sealable container halfway with dried orange peel then fill with 100-proof vodka. Wait 1-2 months then strain. We peeled four oranges to make 4 oz of tincture.

For the dried orange peel cut orange strips top to bottom with a vegetable peeler. Stack a few strips together at a time and slice them crosswise into thin pieces (about 1/8-inch). Spread the orange peel in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 200°F oven until they curl and harden slightly—about 25 to 30 minutes.