La Perique

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I just recently started smoking a pipe. I couldn’t find any corn cob pipes around here like we used to sell when i was a kid in PA so I bought a simple briar and took a recommendation on a tobacco. Drinking while smoking is quite the sporting thing to do. Double up your sensory overloads and double up your connoisseurship.  If everyone knows that life is short and the art is long you must multitask. Well in my multitasking I got addicted to a certain flavor profile that the law has taken away from me. Indoors anyhow. But maybe we can capture that rare pipe tobacco character in a glass.

My attempt was with an obscure to some African flower whose seeds can only be gathered by ants. The flavor of the flower is Africa and it tastes like Sahara dust. Africa apparently also tastes a lot like the tobacco flavor I crave.

So I put the rooibos which is decorated with vanilla bean in affordable rye whiskey and let it infuse for a couple days. The vanilla bean synthesizes some half-assed oak aging on the young, cheap whiskey and provides a body and mid palate to tie in all the red bush flavors. The beauty of rooibos is its lack of bitter principles. You can let it infuse forever without getting a bitter mess like you may with black tea. Many plants are better with partial infusions which are high maintenance and hard to get consistent. Rooibos is pretty simple. When you use a common decorated blend you mainly focus on getting enough vanilla character.

1 liter of old overholt rye whiskey

57 grams of MEMs decorated rooibos tea

48 hour infusion time with simple cloth filtration

I have made many cocktails with this “African rye whiskey” like the coer d’obscurite (heart of darkness) which is with a pimento dram sour but at the moment I’m really interested in the savoy cocktail books gilroy cocktail as a system for a drink.

La Perique (a type of new orleans tobacco)

1 oz. “african rye whiskey”

1 oz. cherry heering

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. dry vermouth (martini rossi)

1 dash of orange bitters (hermes)


The first sip is interesting and reminds me of rusty fruit water (in a good way) then I start to taste all the familiar flavors. The infused whiskey’s flavor integrate so well into the fruit components. This might be even better in a stiffer style cocktail. Another splash of whiskey could fix that. The sour component reminds me of pomegranate synthesized by the extra acid on top of the heering. The dry vermouth is really hard to identify but hopefully its holding it down. Over all, the contrast remind me of Nieto Senetiner’s bonarda from Mendoza. The wine has incredible contrasts of cherry fruit with leather and spice. This is all enhanced by the chewy mouth filling, tannic mouth feel. The dissolved solids in the infusion bring some kind of pleasurable mouth feel to the cocktail.  They are not exactly silky but rather remind you of wine.

It is like smoking indoors while eating fruit. The smoking ban doesn’t hurt so much anymore.

7 thoughts on “La Perique

  1. I was intrigued by this idea, and saw where you mentioned that the rooibos won’t bitter like other teas — I’ve currently got some vanilla-decorated rooibos that’s been sitting in a fifth of Beam rye (only cheap rye available in NC) for ~85 hours. Should I have yanked it out a day ago, or let it sit for a few more just to see what happens ?

  2. in my experience the rooibos terminally infuses and you just get plus or minus more vanilla after a day or so… the infusion does leave you with a subtle mouthfeel… one thing i suspect is that i’ve always used too much tea… i keep finding guidelines for how many grams of botanicals to put in any liter and the elegance of so many things seems to conform to the same rules…

    if you come up with any good cocktails please share!

  3. Also made your Chamberyzette this week; really tasty, although I’m sure I flubbed a couple steps. Anyways, I was trying to come up with Negroni variants when I combined the Chamberyzette and Linie Aquavit in a glass — the result was pretty horrid, until I realised on the finish that it tasted very much of tobacco. Remembering your ‘quest’ of finding tobacco in a glass, I sifted through all my other smoking-esque products, and came up with this:

    0.75 Aquavit (Linie)
    0.75 Rooibos-infused Rye (Beam)
    0.75 Benedictine
    0.75 Manzanilla (La Cigarrera)
    0.75 Chamberyzette replica
    2 dashes, Peychaud’s

    Float, Pusser’s 95.5

    A little on the sweet side up front, but the tobacco nature really comes through for me on the back end and finish. Thanks for all the great ideas !

  4. cool! i have all the stuff to make that. i’ll get to use my redistilled rooibos & rye…

  5. so i just made the drink but only used .25 oz. of benedictine. the results are stunning. i would have never thought of using aquavit but i think its what really makes the drink… the float of rum is a really nice touch and i used lemonheart 151. this is the most fun i’ve had with a cocktail in quite a while…

    and the drink looks gorgeous because i’m using the redistilled rooibos and rye!

  6. ah good call cutting back the Benedictine – I must’ve been stuck in the Negroni / equal parts frame of mind. What’s the story with a ‘redistilled’ rooibos & rye ?

  7. i bought an amphora society still. restilling things like gin is so easy. so i just ran it through the still and it comes out clear… tastes delicious. i don’t know if your supposed to openly blog abut distilling things but i’m having fun with it.

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