What to Order at Commons Club, at the Virgin Hotels New Orleans
Take a break from the madness of the nearby French Quarter
At the Virgin Hotels New Orleans, sexy spaces are decorated with mismatched furniture featuring colorful fabrics and tactile textures, from the intimate Shag Room to the ultra-friendly bar area. During my latest visit, I felt comfortably distanced from the madness of the nearby French Quarter when I took a seat at the bar at Commons Club. Food and beverage director Steven Rogers explains, “Our craft cocktails cover all the bases, while our Cadillacs & Classics selection appeals to those who love a timeless tipple.” I opted to start with their version of the Vieux Carré, a non-citrusy cocktail prepared with High West Rendezvous rye, Rémy 1738 cognac, Punt e Mes, D.O.M Bénédictine and a mixture of bitters, in remembrance of Walter Bergeron, the bartender who created this drink in 1938 at the Hotel Monteleone. The Swanky Sazerac, another stiff option, originally incorporated hallucinogenic absinthe, rye, sugar cubes and bitters, but at Commons it becomes more upscale with Whistle Pig 10-year small-batch rye, Demerara sugar, Peychaud’s Bitters and Herbsaint, a good substitute for the green Chartreuse often used instead of absinthe.
After talking with lead bartender Heather Blanchard, I was ready to continue my boozy adventure. Attracted to Violet Tiaras, I was asked to submit all senses to a field of lavender, as this Tom Collins-inspired highball mixes McQueen and the Violet Fog Ultraviolet Edition gin, Italicus and honey lavender, the power of the mind accelerating the effects. The Witching Hour, concocted with award-winning alcohols—grapefruit-flavored 21 Seeds tequila and Chareau aloe liqueur, plus sage and lemon balm—is another example of their philosophy. “We approach cocktail creation in the spirit of crafting drinks that are not wildly complicated,” Rogers says. Commons Club works with solid and proven flavor combinations and uses premium spirits, rapidly blended. Some suggested side bites: a superior beef tartare, with roasted black-garlic aioli, crispy horseradish and caviar; Breaux Bridge crawfish hush puppies; and sweet and juicy roasted Gulf shrimp smothered in Calabrian chili butter and bottarga bread crumbs.
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