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09.17.10 by  

Devilish Cocktails

Woo your inner sinner with an evil-inspired drink menu courtesy of Cole Newton. If you’ve never had a hand grenade in a glass, put on some camo and read this.

Any time you see a menu with a drink called Touch of Evil, you know you’ve found a barman who likes to play … or who has a very sick sense of humor. Or both, if you’ve struck mixology gold. Read the creative musings and playfully devilish cocktail inventions from Coquette‘s master of ceremony Cole Newton and decide for yourself if he’s a mad genius, or just mad. Either way, he’ll guarantee you a memorable experience.

Consider these “devil may care” recipes the official kick-to-the-curb of sweet cocktails.

Coquette, the birthplace of Cole Newton's devilish inspiration. If the walls could talk, they'd say, "Ouch, that hurt."

served raw: you’ve got some devilish cocktails under your belt, namely Touch of Evil, what are some other cocktails you’ve created that have some bite?
Cole Newton: One of the best and most popular cocktails I’ve developed is called the Splinter, a spicy spin on the classic Sidecar.

Splinter, a Stab in a Glass from Cole Newton

The beauty of the Splinter is the cumulative power of its spice. The particles in the hot sauce tend to settle, so each sip is slightly spicier than the one before. Many drinkers have been lulled into a false sense of security at the inviting warmth of the initial taste. Continue with caution.

  • 1 1/2 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 dashes of Louisiana hot sauce (or your preferred brand)
  • 1 egg white
  1. Combine all ingredients with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into a large cordial glass.

One would also be wise to exercise similar caution enjoying a Touch of Evil. Both the Touch of Evil and Splinter were originally developed for a Grand Marnier competition, and both made their way onto our cocktail list at Coquette. That is the idea of competition, I suppose.

Touch of Evil from a Devilish Cole Newton

Sitting daintily in a martini glass, garnished with a lime wheel, pale pink in complexion, who could guess? The agave, vanilla, and almond flavors play well, the spice kicks in, and the hint of bitterness on the finish take you the rest of the way. Damn.

  • 1 ounce jalapeño-infused blanco tequila*
  • 1 ounce Navan vanilla liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce Campari
  • Lime wheel
  1. Rinse a martini glass with Campari — discard excess.
  2. Combine other ingredients with ice, shake, and strain into prepared glass.
  3. Garnish with a lime wheel.

*A note on jalapeño tequila: 3 whole jalapeños perforated with a fork, sitting in 2 liters of tequila for 24 to 36 hours will give you the perfect balance between ho-hum and face-meltingly undrinkable.

infusions are everywhere. which ones are you working with that are blowing people’s minds?
One of the best discoveries I have made when it comes to fruit-based infusions is a dehydrator. Fresh fruits will dilute your spirit and impart less flavor. Dehydrated fruit concentrates the flavor and removes unwanted excess fluids. Here in Louisiana strawberry season is greeted with much fanfare, and our dehydrator works overtime to keep up with the demand for our strawberry-infused spirits. The vodka is the most popular, of course, but the strawberry-infused rye whiskey is my favorite. It makes for a killer Sazerac. Other infusions we like: black cherry Cachaça, bacon bourbon, dill and cardamom vodka.

we love the idea of sexy-looking drinks, but aren’t fans of sweet — what’s a drink that looks sweet but will take you down?
Working with Green Chartreuse is always a pleasure, and one of the most surprising results of this exploration for me has been a drink called the Snapdragon.

Cole Newton’s Snapdragon

This innocent-looking little devil is as bright green as a hand grenade, but as potent as any drink with a reasonable dose of Green Chartreuse will be. It’s also a good way to make something with Midori which might appeal to dismissive mixologists. Contrary to popular belief, Midori doesn’t suck. People just associate it with a low point in the history of cocktails, and, to be fair, most of the cocktails that call for it do suck. Galliano has suffered a similar fate.

  • 3/4 ounce Cabana Cachaça
  • 3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 3/4 ounce Midori
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
  • Sprig pineapple sage
  1. Combine all ingredients except Fir Eau de Vie, shake, and strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  2. Top with Eau de Vie.
  3. Garnish with a sprig of pineapple sage, if available, or some other mildly fragrant herb.

what ingredients or techniques are you experimenting with that would inspire our readers’ inner sinner?
For ingredients, I have really come to like verjuice — or verjus, depending on your source. It is a lightly tart juice made from unripe, unfermented wine grapes. It is milder and less instantly recognizable than citrus — and also doesn’t oxidize the way fresh citrus will — and less pervasive than vinegar. People looking for an alternative source of acid in their cocktails would do well to seek it out.

I have also managed to fall deeply in love with sherry in the last year or so. Dry Oloroso, Bual Madeira, Pedro Ximenez. All of them are beautiful on their own and make wonderful cocktail components.

As for techniques, fat-washing has proven to be indispensable. Using fat as a base for infusions is becoming more and more popular, and our cocktail list would not be close to what it is without bacon bourbon, brown butter applejack, or buffalo chicken scotch. A word to the wise, though: avoid duck fat cognac.

how about a cocktail people can serve that will help create a memory, rather than erase one.
The cocktail that strikes me as the most memorable is one that draws on all of the ingredients and techniques mentioned above. It’s called The Jackson.

The Jackson a la Cole Newton

The effect is both completely original and instantly familiar. For me, the smell creates a powerful sense memory; it evokes my mother’s breakfasts on Saturday mornings when I was a child. The Jackson is essentially a spin on the Manhattan, but utterly different, and so it is named for Jackson, Mississippi, which is a city almost, but not quite entirely unlike Manhattan.

  • Bacon bourbon
  • Catdaddy Moonshine
  • Bual Madeira
  • Sweet vermouth (Noilly Prat works well)
  • Verjuice
  1. Combine equal parts in a mixing glass with ice, stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed lemon peel.

we love a cocktail with a sinister backstory. is there one in your personal arsenal that makes a great story and an amazing sip?
People in the world of high-end bartending tend to take themselves a little bit too seriously. In the end, no matter how fancy, we just make people drinks and try to help them have a good time. I always tell people that if I can do it, anyone can do it. Mixology is not rocket science.

With that in mind, I decided that I should develop a cocktail called Rocket Science.

Rocket Science from “Spirits Scientist” Cole Jackson

The cocktail comes across spicy and herbacious, sweet and tangy, rich and complex. I like the idea of taking components that most casual drinkers find distasteful, like Fernet, and that most high end bartenders scoff at — like Canadian Whisky, although Forty Creek is held in somewhat higher regard — in order to make something that appeals to a wide range of people on both sides of the spectrum. That’s as close to rocket science as my brand of bartending gets.

  • 1 ounce Forty Creek Canadian Whisky
  • 1/2 ounce Averna Amaro
  • 1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  1. Combine all ingredients, shake, and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a lime peel.

if we were to stop by a cole newton party, what’s the vibe, the music and the cocktail?
The vibe is rowdy but not destructive, or at least not intentionally destructive. The music covers some old school funk and R&B like George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, classic rock from early to mid-period Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Chuck Berry, low-key hip hop like Arrested Development, J5 and Outkast, and some up-tempo modern stuff such as the Strokes, La Roux and Beck. People are drinking beer, or wine, if they brought some, until we get drunk enough to start thinking that shots are a good idea.