There is another LA, one where the restaurant food is phenomenal. The flavors are exquisite, the portions proper (neither “bite-sized” nor spilling over the edges of the plate), the prices reasonable and the settings glorious. Further, it is a place where you may get a gourmet meal accompanied by a bottle of beer (no glass) served on a table covered in a garishly flowered oilcloth, followed by a gratis creme brulee, and where mixologists still call themselves bartenders.
We are talking, of course, about Louisiana, New Orleans to be precise, where we had the titanic misfortune to spend five days at an editing conference recently. But, in between heated arguments about the Oxford comma, we managed to find the time to discover an exquisite cocktail called the Orange Blossom in a picturesque 150-year-old-courtyard eatery in the French Quarter called Café Amelie. Sparkling, light, citrusy and slightly floral, made with Prosecco, West Indian orange bitters and St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, the Orange Blossom ($10) makes for a serene summertime cocktail.
(Sadly) back in the other L.A., we called Café Amelie and self-described “bartender” Leo Schilling gave us the libation's recipe “right quick.” The cocktail has been served at the restaurant for several years, Schilling said, unable to recall who at Café Amelie originally came up with the idea (unlike our L.A., where that sucker would've been copyrighted, patented and registered with the Writers Guild “right quick”). He pointed out that the bar “makes our own tonic, and we exclusively use fresh, seasonal ingredients — no mixes. But we serve the Orange Blossom year-round because it's one of our most popular.”
(Bonus: If you find yourself actually in the city of Nouvelle Orleans, you can hoist an Orange Blossom to go and continue blissfully shopping for voodoo dolls, gris gris bags and antique garnet rings. The open-container law is not enforced in the Quarter. Vive la liberte!)
The Orange Blossom
From: Leo Schilling, Café Amelie
Makes: 1 drink
5 oz. Prosecco
¾ oz. St. Germaine elderflower liqueur
Dash of Fee Brothers orange bitters
Ribbon of orange zest
1. Pour Prosecco into a flute.
2. Add the elderflower liqueur.
3. Finish with a dash of orange bitters.
4. Garnish with a “ribbon” (long, curling piece) of orange zest.
Café Amelie: 912 Royal St., New Orleans; (504) 412-8965.
Follow Samantha Bonar @samanthabonar.