On a recent Tuesday night, regulars at Herbs & Rye may have noticed a new face behind the stick. That bearded guest barman would be New Orleans resident Max Messier favoring Las Vegas with its first taste of Cocktail & Sons, a delightful line of high-quality syrups created by former bartenders Messier and his wife, Lauren Myerscough, for use in all kinds of cocktails (and mocktails!), but especially smashes, toddies, slings and sours. On August 2, Messier and his production manager Ruth Ann Apruzzese-Welke brought three of their four core products as well as some very good news: Distributor Breakthru Beverage Group had just picked up the syrup line that day, and will make them available to local bars in short order.
It’s fitting that Messier’s popup would go down at the spot just named Best American High-Volume Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail. In a volume-driven city where products are measured not by the dropper but by the bottle, case or pallet, Messier calls his “a bartender-approved solution for building complex and creative classic cocktails with minimal prep and/or execution.” In other words, while some large Strip resorts are blessed with a dedicated mixology kitchen, others must rely on artificial ingredients or on the (sometimes inconsistent) elbow grease of a variable staff. Cocktail & Sons syrups are all-natural, and are handcrafted from Louisiana cane sugar and hand-peeled and chopped produce in 20-30-gallon batches at a kitchen in St. Charles Parish on the Bayou.
Back at Herbs, Messier’s Spiced Demerara syrup featured well in a Scotch Old-Fashioned, bringing subtle heat from Sichuan and white peppercorns, allspice, coriander, cassia and wild cherry barks, dried orange and birch leaf. Classic Oleo Saccaharum (citrus oil and sugar) gets nuance and complexity from lemongrass, toasted cardamom and ginger, giving a Scotch Collins some extra oomph. Mint & Lemon Verbena syrup’s peppermint, spearmint, lemon verbena and wormwood conspired to lift the wee heavy Scotch Smash back into summer territory. Rounding out the core, a Honeysuckle & Pepper blend gives margaritas and other sours a floral, smoky quality.
Also available online, Cocktail & Sons (CocktailAndSons.com) makes seasonal syrups that express the New Orleans drinking seasons. Wild, raw Capstone honey from the Lower Ninth Ward meets citrus, ginger and a bit of apple cider vinegar to make old-fashioned Switchel. To this, Messier adds local red rooibos tea for a bottled, carbonated Haymaker’s Punch that drinks like a dream all summer. King Cake Syrup appears on Three Kings’ Day (January 6) and is available through Mardi Gras; redolent of cinnamon, pecan and brioche, Messier adds it to his morning coffee. Finally, Louisiana’s spring strawberries join hibiscus, pineapple, passion fruit and mango to make Fassionola, an otherwise-extinct tiki syrup essential to the Hurricane.
Indeed, what once was lost can soon be found in Las Vegas.