New Orleans' colorful cocktail history began when Antoine Peychaud invented bitters. Though originally intended for medicinal purposes, the bitters, which he mixed with brandy and served to enthralled drinkers on Nola's streets, cemented Peychaud's reputation as a pioneer of mixology. That original spiced concoction was called the coquetier, but non-French-speaking imbibers pronounced it "cock-tay." They tacked the l on later.
Carrying on the cultures and traditions of the bayou, Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto opened Restaurant R'evolution in the summer of 2012. Located at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the French Quarter, this authentic Cajun and Creole eatery is also home to Bar R'evolution, where wine director Molly Wismeier, with the help of her team, has designed a vast menu of seasonal cocktails that play off Big Easy's history while keeping the cocktail tradition alive and well on the bayou.
To bridge the gap between the muggy heat of summer and the crisp, cool breezes of autumn, Wismeier suggests mixing up a Sparkling Blackberry Smash. The light drink is a compromise between the sweetness of sparkling wine and simple syrup and the earthiness of bourbon and basil. The result is both strong and stunningly easy to gulp down. It looks great in a glass, but might just belong in a pitcher.
Sparkling Blackberry Smash
• 1 oz Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon
• 1 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
• 1 oz simple syrup
• 1 oz sparkling wine
• 1 sprig of basil
• 3 blackberries
Muddle two blackberries, then combine bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass before topping with sparkling wine and garnishing with a sprig of basil and a blackberry.