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3-Course Interview: Ian Julian

Anne Berry talks to the cocktail maestro at Dominique's on Magazine

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A blooming back garden at Dominique's on Magazine (4213 Magazine St., 504-891-9282; www.dominiquesonmag.com) means that head bartender Ian Julian always has fresh cilantro and habaneros for his signature Cajun Pho Sour, a mainstay on his craft cocktail list. After a chance meeting, Locally Preserved chef/owner Emily Vanlandingham tapped him to develop recipes showcasing her fruit preserves and syrups as cocktail mixers. Julian spoke with Gambit about using those products in his drinks.

How do you mix Locally Preserved jams and syrups in your drinks?

Julian: Bartenders like to play around with flavors. Once I taste the product and know where I want to go, my imagination takes off. I've developed about 30 recipes for Emily so far, mostly punches and simple cocktails. I made Watermelon, Say What? using her rose petal syrup, Hendrick's gin and muddled cucumbers. It tastes just like watermelon. I like my drinks calm and smooth, so with certain jams you want to watch how much product you use, and if you're blending them with milk you want to agitate it really well. At Dominique's, I used her Pumpkin Spice Butter in bourbon milk punch to make it frothy — I whipped together the milk and the butter and steamed it all. Then I ladled it over bourbon, and it was frothy, and blended well.

Which Locally Preserved products are on the spring menu at Dominique's?

J: Emily's products are unique and fresh, and she only makes a certain amount, so I'll mostly feature those drinks as specials. But on the new spring menu, I've added For the Love of Vodka, a vodka spritzer I'll make with Locally Preserved syrups like spicy peach, hibiscus or strawberry-red wine, topped with soda or ginger beer. I'm also thinking of using her satsuma syrup in white sangria, with fresh satsumas and herbs from the Dominique's garden. We have six kaffir lime trees out here, so I can keep making the Lime Three Ways [lime gin, kaffir syrup, fresh lime juice], even with lime prices going up.

In 2012, you were a national finalist in the GQ/Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender contest. Are cocktail competitions moving away from allowing homemade ingredients?

J: Judges look at it differently. If you're using a hand-crafted ingredient, they want you to describe how you made this cocktail, so they can pass along the recipe or make a batch for an event. Sometimes they want you to use only their products, so that recipe can be recreated in Toronto or Paris. And sometimes judges want to see you use a local product that's marketed nationwide. For the "Most Imaginative Bartender" contest, I used Bissap Breeze [hibiscus tea concentrate], which is a New Orleans brand. I'm entering the contest again this year, and might use one of Emily's products. Actually, it's my third year doing it. You just put yourself and what you love into the cocktail. — ANNE BERRY

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