Grant Bywaters is taking us to New Orleans for his novel, The Red Storm, and matching it with the perfect drink.
The Sazerac is the definitive cocktail of New Orleans, the city where late 1930s black former heavyweight contender William Fletcher sets up shop as a private detective. Like Fletcher, The Sazerac has its story to tell.
The known history of The Sazerac in New Orleans started in 1850 by a man named Sewell T. Taylor who owned a bar in the city called The Merchants Exchange Coffee House. Taylor, later on, became an importer of booze. His most popular import was a type of Cognac named Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. It did not take long before Taylor's bar was renamed The Sazerac Coffee House. The bar changed owners over the years and around the 1870s rye whiskey replaced Cognac due to the phylloxera epidemic in Europe that laid waste to vineyards in France.
1 sugar cube
2 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
½ teaspoon absinthe
Strip of lemon peel
Put a sugar cube into an Old-Fashioned glass and mix it with a few drops of water. Then put several small ice cubes in followed by the rye whiskey along with the Peychaud's and the Angostura bitters.
Stir well and then strain into another chilled, Old-Fashioned glass that has been thoroughly coated with the absinthe, making sure to pour out the excess—unless you are trying to see the green fairy, in which case you can drink the remaining absinthe. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
A little bit about the book:
It's the late 1930s, and black private investigator William Fletcher is having trouble finding clientele. He's not the only man out of work, but his past as a former heavyweight contender with a few shady connections - not to mention the color of his skin in race-obsessed New Orleans-isn't helping lure clients to his door. Stuck without any viable alternative, he takes a case from an old criminal acquaintance, Storm, who wants him to find his estranged daughter, Zella.
But when Fletcher starts knocking on doors, he sets off a catastrophic chain of events that turn the city into a bloody battleground between two rival syndicates. Then Storm is murdered and Fletcher finds himself caught between the police and dangerous mobsters. With Zella's safety in the balance, the unlikely private detective finds himself with a lot more than he bargained for.
The Red Storm is the first novel from licensed private investigator-turned-novelist Grant Bywaters.
By the way, the world's largest mystery convention is also in New Orleans this year. You might want to check it out.