New Orleans' Other Poison

… and the irresistible raspberry-vinegar syrup that puts it over the top

Chris Granger

The Sazerac and the Ramos gin fizz may be better known, but the Roffignac, named for New Orleans' last French mayor, is the city's finest liquid secret. Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac served from 1820 to 1828, bringing cobblestones and gas lighting to the French Quarter. The concoction that celebrates him, served throughout the city in the 19th century, was a signature drink at Maylie's restaurant until 1986. When Maylie's shuttered, the Roffignac faded away. But recipes survive in books like Stanley Clisby Arthur's 1937 Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em, which calls for whiskey, sugar, soda, and the curious "red Hembarig." This, says local bartender Paul Gustings, is raspberry shrub, a berry-infused syrup made with vinegar that adds a balancing zing to the drink. In his own version, Gustings swaps the whiskey for cognac, a nod to Roffignac's Gallic heritage.