Cocktail & Sons cocktail syrups
Artists: Lauren Myerscough & Max Messier
LAUREN MYERSCOUGH AND HUSBAND MAX MESSIER ARE PURVEYORS OF GOOD TASTE — and it fits in a bottle. The couple founded Cocktail & Sons in 2015 to market their line of cocktail syrups. One of their seasonal syrups, Fassionola, even won Garden & Gun’s Made in the South Award in 2017.
For retail customers, Cocktail & Sons maintains four syrups it sells in 8-ounce bottles for $14.95: spiced demerara, oleo saccharum, honeysuckle and peppercorns, and mint and lemon verbena. Limited-run seasonals include king cake syrup released around Mardi Gras, Fassionola for the spring and watermelon and Thai basil for summer.
“Part of our mission was to feature the best of the South’s produce, so our seasonals try to reflect that,” says Myerscough, a New Orleans native. “All our syrups are hand-crafted and made with local ingredients,” including raw sugar from Three Brothers Farm in Youngsville, strawberries from Johndales Strawberry Farm in Ponchatoula and watermelon from the Indian Springs Farmers Co-op in Mississippi.
The syrup recipes result from the couple’s combined two decades-plus in bartending and bar management, and a lot of tinkering.
“It’s a bit of trial and error,” Myerscough says. “Some of these recipes are relics from our days as bartenders, and we’ve had a lot of time to refine them.” The honeysuckle-peppercorn, for example, was developed to pair with agave products, tequilas and mezcals. “You always want the liquor to be the star, but you want the syrup to be a great supporting player,” she says. “We wanted something that would complement the salinity of agave, kind of the grassy note. The honeysuckle and the peppercorn kind of play into that.”
The syrups are widely available at Dorignac’s, Rouses, Martin Wine Cellar, Acquistapace’s in Covington and Mandeville, the Hong Kong Food Market, Elio’s Wine Warehouse, Gulf Coast Spirits, Pearl Wine Company, the Sunday Shop and Home Malone.
The couple also makes custom syrups for bars and restaurants, as well as custom orders for events.
“That’s where we have fun,” Myerscough says. “We made a clarified cucumber syrup, we made a raspberry hibiscus, we made a ginger turmeric honey that was beautiful for a wedding. It’s great because it keeps our creativity going, and we get to play with more things at the farmers market, which is always fun.”
The couple also has published “Cocktail & Sons Volume #2 — A Guide to Handcrafted Cocktails,” a book of more than 50 classic cocktail recipes that is available online only as a bonus for customers who buy a three-pack of syrups.
The “Dombey” glass
Artist: Ben Dombey
Ben Dombey has been glassblowing for half his life, and he’s only 34. Under the business name GlassblowerBen, he has produced more than 20,000 “Dombey” glasses — handmade thick-bottomed whiskey glasses, some with designs stamped on the bottom — and countless other cocktail glasses, necklace pendants, lamps, sculptures and more.
It all started with a marble.
“I saw [a glassblower] making a little marble when I was 17 … and I was just hooked,” says Dombey, whose studio is in the Bywater. “He kind of showed me the ropes of some smaller-scale glass work. I couldn’t get enough of it.”
The Michigan native got a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Tulane University. As a freshman student, he worked full time as a bartender on Bourbon Street to save enough money to buy a kiln and an oxygen propane torch for making small glass items. Tulane had a large furnace he could use for other projects. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York, and later returned to New Orleans to work with artist James Vella, now the glass studio manager at YAYA Inc.
Dombey's fascination with rocks glasses came from a 2011 stay in Scotland, where he had accompanied a RIT professor who was teaching a workshop.
“They were drinking the best scotch, the best whisky in the world out of these … little thimbles,” he says. “They were really thin, unsubstantial little glasses.”
He began making prototypes of what he perceived to be the perfect whiskey glass and ended up with a thick-bottom design with a unique texture on its sides. He later developed metal stamps to imprint designs on the bottom of the glass that would be seen by the user. Designs include a fleur-de-lis, a wave pattern, a skull, an M.C. Escher-like design, the state of Louisiana, the words “Drink Me” and more. Custom designs also are available.
“I’ve made about 20,000 of those glasses now — each one inflated with my lung power,” he says. “My hands are by no means a machine, but it’s incredible it’s made all this possible.”
About half of Dombey’s sales come from individuals ordering from his website, he says. The rest are wholesale orders for restaurants, bars and gift shops. He also does consignment work, like a special glass he designed for Maker’s Mark bourbon.
Because of the heat and energy needed to work with molten glass — each vessel requires about a pound of glass — Dombey soon will shut down his furnace for the summer, resuming production in September. But he says he has plenty of stock already made to see him through the hottest months.
In his downtime he will teach an intensive workshop at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York and perhaps refine some of his designs.
“I’ve always been so hungry to play with the material and work with it, and now it takes me all over the world,” he says. “It’s a magical material.”
Leisuremann’s Cocktail Mixes
Artist: Cliff Couvillon
Sometimes a guy just wants a cocktail. The simple desire for a well-mixed drink without the fuss of carrying syrups, mixers and other accoutrements is what led Chalmette native Cliff Couvillon to develop Leisuremann’s powdered cocktail mixes.
“Leisuremann’s was started out of necessity,” says the Brother Martin graduate, pointing as inspiration to an annual trip he takes with friends to hike Mount Le Conte in Tennessee. They always brought “copious” amounts of alcohol, he says, but didn’t pack cocktail ingredients because of the weight.
“The year Leisuremann’s was invented in 2016, when we were hiking up, it was supposed to be one of the most treacherous times you can imagine,” he says. “It actually got down to minus 18 degrees.
“We were sitting in the lodge, it’s freezing cold and we really wanted a cocktail. We had a bunch of Tang (powdered orange drink mix) and the caretaker at the lodge actually found a bottle of (Angostura) bitters from 1972, so we made what we called a “Mountain Fashioned” — and they were OK.” As they descended the mountain later, the group discussed how to create profiles of classic cocktails in a mix that's easy to make and easy to tote.
“All we create are dry mixes that are rooted in the classics,” Couvillon says of the Lafayette-based Leisuremann’s, which he operates with his wife, Michaella Occhipinti, who grew up in Metairie. “Everything we do is a classic cocktail. You can bring them on an airplane. You can bring them tailgating. You can make gallons of them … and just enjoy cocktails. That’s our big thing.”
The mixes also can be used for mocktails, and one customer, he says, puts Leisuremann’s Bees Knees, a lemon and honey simple syrup mix, in hot tea because it’s easier than squeezing lemons and spooning honey at home.
Other mixes include an Old Fashioned, Sazerac, margarita, classic daiquiri and Cosmopolitan, which make 10 cocktails per container and sell for $12.95. A special release Gold Rush, a 24-karat gold-laced lemon and honey syrup, sells for $24.95. Couvillon says Leisuremann’s will release a bloody mary mix at the end of July that will make a dozen cocktails and will cost about $15. Other mixes will be released as flavors are perfected.
“There really is no limit to what we can do, but there are a few cocktails that are hard for us to replicate,” he says. “I’m not going to release something in the market that I wouldn’t want to drink.”
Leisuremann’s mixes are sold at Home Malone and Seven Three Distilling Company and on the company’s website. Couvillon and Occhipinti also sell the mixes at artist markets.