Snowball-inspired drinks and infused ice cubes are a couple of the cool ideas local bartenders have introduced to their drinks. Tales of the Cocktail helped inspire some mixologists to get creative with ice. Here are some cool drinks to try this summer.
SoBou (310 Chartres St., 504-552-4095; www.sobounola.com). For last year's Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Dinner, mixologist Abigail Gullo got an ice shaver (fitting for a bar located in what she says was a former ice house), and crafted a snowball-inspired Pink Pigeon, a lush shake of silver rum, lime, amaretto, cherry syrup and house-made tropical orgeat, made from coconut and pecans. Shaved ice on top gets a drizzle of condensed milk, and the drink stays balanced and creamy to the end. This year, the new Pan Am Sloe Flight South (not on the menu, but ask for it) is a perfumed, spirited snowball made with pisco, Creme de Violette and maraschino liqueur, with a shaved ice float of sloe blue gin.
Maurepas Foods (3200 Burgundy St., 504-267-0072; www.maurepasfoods.com). The Bywater bar began making shaved ice and flavored ice cubes for last year's Spirited Dinner, and it's reviving the same styles this year. Check out the gorgeous whiskey and ginger Snake Oil, strained over shaved ice, as well as bar manager Tony DiMunno's latest tart cooler — a fun stack of watermelon-juiced ice cubes in a shake of pisco, lime, coconut water and his own simple syrup, spun from summer corn and spiked with a pop of chili powder.
Root Squared (Square Root, 1800 Magazine St., 504-309-7800; www.squarerootnola.com). In keeping with the restaurant's open kitchen format, bar manager Max Messier will shape his ice program in public view. For this year's Tales of the Cocktail, Messier will set up a sidewalk station and take a miter saw to carve rectangular, Collins-sized cubes, as well as varying sizes of square blocks. Inside, enjoy his snowball-inspired cocktails, including a white Russian variation (made with Messier's milk-washed vodka) and a Blue Curacao-Lillet sipper, shaken with toasted peppercorn-cardamom syrup and pineapple juice. He's also known to cool his cocktails with liquid nitrogen, turning them into spirited slushies.
Doris Metropolitan (620 Chartres St., 504-267-3500; www.dorismetropolitan.com). The chic steakhouse has had a flavored ice program from the start, including the Future Ball, a molecular Old Fashioned whose frozen modifiers unspool into your favorite whiskey. Newer flavors include an Aviation Ball and, later this summer, a Decadence rainbow ball layered with fruit juices and edible glitter and served in coconut rum. For this year's Spirited Dinner, bar manager Konrad Kantor is planning a rosemary-honey iceball, frozen with lemon juice and served in a glass of Nikka Japanese whiskey. To showcase a new shaved ice machine, he's also beginning a build-your-own julep program.
Twelve Mile Limit (500 S. Telemachus St., 504-488-8114; www.facebook.com/twelve.mile.limit). "Any bar with a serious cocktail program needs to have large-format ice," says owner-bartender Cole Newton, who recently began chilling his boozier pours — think Old Fashioneds, whiskey on the rocks — with 2-inch, heart-shaped cubes. (He clarifies New Orleans' mineral-rich, hard water by insulating the ice cube trays.) The bar also just got an ice crusher, spinning fine-shaved ice for Megan Devine's tequila-coffee liqueur chiller, Sno Chance, topped with BrancaMenta-infused condensed milk. "It's a slightly more sophisticated program at a very reasonable cost," says Newton.
Bourbon O Bar (Bourbon Orleans Hotel, 730 Bourbon St., 504-571-4685; www.bourbono.com). The bar staff approached manager Cheryl Charming about going beyond clear ice balls, so for this year's Tales, they're hand-cutting cubes and Collins-sized rectangles too.