Max Messier is the founder of Cocktail & Sons (985-503-7636; www.cocktailandsons.com), a line of handcrafted, all-natural syrups for cocktails and sodas. Messier spoke with Gambit about the company's origins and making drinks with his line of syrups.
What was your inspiration for Cocktail & Sons?
Messier: I've been working on syrups for cocktails since 2008, beginning in New York and now here in New Orleans. I have a whole recipe book of syrups and tinctures and all sorts of fun stuff. When I was between gigs here in New Orleans, I started looking around the syrups marketplace. I read about the Louisiana Cottage (Food) Law that allows you to produce jellies and jams and syrups and so forth in your house. I said, "I have this book of recipes, and I have this ability to produce stuff under Cottage Law." So, I started working on cultivating syrups that would be applicable to classic cocktails. We worked on the recipes for a solid two months.
I've been using flowers in all my cocktail builds for years, and a lot of my stuff is tea-based. I have a honeysuckle and peppercorn syrup that pairs well with whiskey or tequila and is dressed up with a lot of exotic peppercorns. The recipe is actually from a cocktail I did back in 2009 in Brooklyn.
I also have a mint syrup and an oleo-saccharum syrup. The mint syrup is kind of like my star quarterback. I have to make sure it doesn't stay out too late and shows up for practice.
What would you tell people interested in making their own cocktails about using syrups?
M: People think bartending is complicated, and it's not. It kind of goes back to the 1950s and 1960s wet bars where people would serve highballs inside their homes. The old-fashioned is considered pretty complicated here, but it's actually pretty simple to make at home. I made a spiced Demerara [raw sugar] syrup for that, and then I thought, "I'm on to something here."
New Orleans is all about house parties and entertaining, so I want people to have these syrups to use in their homes.
How can people learn to make drinks with the syrups?
M: I'm building a recipe book that will have between 30 and 40 drinks in it using all the syrups. We have a lot of irons in the fire, but the book will be a giveaway at tastings around town. This [book] is volume one, so volume two will involve people submitting their own recipes. For example, "I used the oleo-saccharum syrup in a salad dressing." The idea is that this is just not for cocktails and sodas, but you can take the Demerara and pour it on waffles.