A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist – Ted Breaux
WRR: Where did you grow up? Have you always had a taste for adventure? When did you catch the Absinthe bug?
Ted: I was born in New Orleans and lived there as a child, until we relocated to Lafayette (LA), in the heart of Cajun country. It was a small, but surprisingly cosmopolitan city. I really enjoyed living there.
I’ve always had a taste for adventure, especially if dome degree of scientific and engineering innovation were involved in pulling off an entertaining stunt. I became interested in absinthe toward the end of 1993.
It was liquor. It was more of a chemistry issue for Ted. Working as a chemist almost 20 years ago. Incredulous …
I was studying absinthe distilled absinthe on a research basis. Back in 1996 I found 2 bottles and took apart the chemical properties of the Absinthe. These were extremely rare,Pre-Ban bottles.
They exemplified flavor over theatrics.
I think Absinthe should come with an owners manual.
WRR: Do you cook, you live in France and you’re surrounded by marvelous ingredients? If so, who taught you? Mother, Father? Grandparents? Cookbooks? Television?
Ted: Officially, I live in Birmingham, AL since floating out of New Orleans on the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina. I just spend quite a lot of time overseas.
I do cook, although my cooking tends to be nutrient dense, healthy dishes that just come out of my imagination. In that sense, I’m mostly self-taught.
My grandmother’s were responsible for the cooking that I remember the most. We ate well, Indian Foods, Ethiopian Food, etc.
I’m very familiar with Cajun cooking from growing up in Cajun Country. I like to cook very healthy dishes. Whole ingredients. I had a great adolescence.
It was very satisfying to grow up here.
There is a specific European, Latin mindset here in New Orleans. With that said, New Orleans by design is very different from regions not far away.
I am very family oriented .. Lots of cultural exposure from my family.
WRR: If you could be anywhere in the world where would that be? What would you eat/drink once you got there?
Ted: If I could snap my fingers and be anywhere, I could see myself relaxing in Cusco while sipping coca tea, or maybe somewhere in the depths of the Indian subcontinent with a plate of methi gosht.
WRR: Is there anything that you’ve imbibed that brings a tear to your eye? What is it? Why?
Ted: A generous friend and I recently cracked open a 1900 Tokaji Aszú Eszencia which we drank from some of Czar Nicholas II’s personal glassware. That was a most memorable experience. Aside from that, a spectacular calvados from 1850, a couple of vintage absinthes, and just about any 100% folle blanche Bas Armagnac from Domaine Boingnères. In each case, when the romance is brushed aside, the product truly speaks volumes of the artistry behind its making.
WRR: Speaking of Eating and drinking, what is your favorite cocktail? Made by whom? Where?
Ted: I tend to identify themes that I feel individual bartenders do to my liking and task them to expound upon it. They don’t necessarily realize what I’m doing. But if there is one pattern I repeat with consistency when it comes to bartenders and cocktails, it’s when I walk through the doors of Zig Zag Café (Seattle) and upon seeing Kacy Fitch, I always demand (loudly) if anyone in “this jukejoint” knows how to make a Ramos Gin Fizz.
Fortunately, someone does.
Thank you Ted for braving the humidity and heat to talk to me.
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
COCKTAIL WHISPERER, Editor
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The Cocktail Whisperer asks Anthony Bourdain Four Questions about Scotch
The Five Questions: Andrew Bell, American Sommelier
The Five Questions Catherine Reynolds
The Five Questions: Lincoln Henderson (Master Distiller)
The Five Questions: Natalie West (Foppiano Wines)
The Five Questions: Randall Grahm
The Five Questions: Sustainable Sushi
A Glass of Bourbon, Branch, and History
Midnight in the Bronx: Visit to Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange
A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist
A Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Tales of the Cocktail: New Orleans, Louisiana