In Good Spirits

Christmas with the Blue Dog

By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of Blue Dog Café

Certain flavors remind us of the holidays: cloves and cinnamon sticks stewing in apple cider, pine needles of Christmas trees and garlands, and the aroma of gingerbread baking, and cranberries for the sauce.
It’s why we chose a ginger-infused cocktail from Blue Dog Café in Lafayette, Louisiana, a restaurant known for its Cajun fare and whimsical artwork from “Blue Dog” creator George Rodrigue. The restaurant mirrors its region, with Gulf seafood dishes, typical Cajun meats and cocktails that make you want to say, “Laissez les bon temps rouler.”
Chef Ryan Trahan has created three cocktails that contain holiday ingredients, drinks that will delight the senses and remind us of holidays past. Two utilize ginger in interesting ways and one is a holiday twist on a Louisiana favorite.
Trahan has a long and decorated culinary career for his young age. He opened two farm-to-table restaurants in Lafayette and at both restaurants, loved experimenting with cocktails.
“I enjoy drinking them more,” he said.
Trahan recently took over the kitchen at Blue Dog of Lafayette — there’s a location in Lake Charles as well — and competed against numerous Louisiana chefs this summer to win the coveted title of Louisiana Seafood King. Then, in August, he went against 12 chefs from around the country to take the King of American Seafood crown at the 15th Annual Great American Seafood Cookoff. His dish with Blue Dog Sous Chef Sullivan Zant married cracklin’ crusted red snapper with pickled crawfish tails, buttermilk chili consommé, spring vegetables, burnt leek oil and bowfin caviar.
Not bad for a self-taught chef.
But about those cocktails — Blue Dog drinks are always made from scratch and fresh ingredients, Trahan said. The Darby House Tea, for instance, combines Bulleit bourbon with peach honey shrub, lemon bitters, ginger beer and sweet tea. It’s a play on a gimlet, Trahan said.

“I’m a huge bourbon fan,” he explained, “and it’s a nice blend of flavors.”
The “Hurricane on the Bayou” features locally produced Bayou Satsuma Rum and Bayou Spiced Rum along with pineapple and orange juices plus cranberry, the latter of which makes it more holiday festive.
“We wanted to make the classic New Orleans drink and we wanted to bring a fresh approach,” he explained, adding that this hurricane’s not like the overly fruity varieties that visitors find in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Below is a recipe for Femme Fatale, which includes Seersucker Gin, a Southern-style gin with a variety of botanicals such as citrus peel, clove honey and mint. The drink also includes Domaine de Canton, a ginger-flavored liqueur from France.
For information on Blue Dog and its cocktails, visit lafayette.bluedogcafe.com

Femme Fatale
2 ounces Seersucker Gin
½ ounces Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur)
1 ounce lime juice
½ ounce ginger syrup
2 leaves basil garnish
1 sprig rosemary, toasted

Directions: Add first four ingredients into shaker, add ice and shake vigorously. Pour into strained chilled glass. Garnish with basil leaves and toasted rosemary.

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