No one dines at Saba expecting a Sazerac.
You have to crawl into the whole Alon Shaya Israeli culinary experience, knowing all too well that the wood-fired pita and mind-blowing hummus binge is inevitable—and that an afternoon nap is likely to follow.
That’s precisely why the Anne Bonny, Saba’s riff on an Italian spritz, is a splendid aperitif.
It first caught my attention while searching for a much-needed “eye-opener” following a night out in New Orleans consisting of too many bottles of wine, not enough nibbles and spontaneous late-night dancing at Vintage Rock Club. Whew.
My husband ordered a glass of sparkling rosé, a spot-on choice, but once I spotted those skewered green olives immersed in a purplish bubbly cocktail served in a wine glass, I had to have it. The idea of a briny garnish in a lavender gin cocktail topped with bubbles was appealing.
When you think about a cocktail named for a notorious female pirate in the 1700s, you first think rum.
But Saba’s head bartender Justin LeClair explains that the cocktail’s creation was more about integrating Middle Eastern flavors and offering something more crushable.
“It’s in the same vein as a Cappaletti Spritz,” Justin notes. “We make a pomegranate-sage syrup used a lot in gazoz, an Israeli soda.”
His obsession other than with Anne Bonny (She’s rabbit-hole read worthy, ending with a secret lesbian love affair in prison, both nearly being hanged to death, but spared as both were pregnant) is with Italicus, a Bergamot liqueur.
He also wanted to have a nice, light spritz for patrons to enjoy on the Magazine Street patio.
The gin is infused in-house with lavender plus butterfly pea flower to achieve that beautiful hue. “It adds a nice floral note,” Justin says.
As for the olive garnish?
“There’s an Americano with a very dry Prosecco or Cava you top with olives. I drink them all the time at home. Super easy.”
The result is a drink that’s really balanced, as Justin notes, “with big flavors from the lavender-infused gin and Italicus balanced by dryness with the Cava, and a touch of saltiness from the olives.”
As for that aforementioned Sazerac, expect to see Saba’s riff on the fall menu, once the bar regroups in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
It’s New Orleans, after all.
5757 Magazine Street, New Orleans
Tips for making Saba’s spritz at home:
Here, Justin employs the “dirty dump” method—transferring the same ice used in the shaker to the glass “all the way to the top.”
Don’t want to shake it? Justin says you can absolutely build it in a wine glass. “You’ll end up with more Cava so it will be a little drier.”
Rather than infusing gin, he suggests using Empress 1908 Gin as an easy substitute.
No shaker, no problem! “My mom always wants to make my drinks at home but doesn’t have a bar. I tell her to just use Tupperware, quarantine bartending style!”
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