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Sazerac Creole Kitchen & Cocktails is scheduled to open January 16 at St. Philips Plaza in the former Amalour Restaurant at 4280 N. Campbell Ave.
The concept is the latest to join the family of Tucson-based JAM Culinary Concepts restaurants, which includes Noble Hops Craft Beer + Fine Fare, Vero Amore Plaza Palomino, The Still Speakeasy, Vero Amore Dove Mountain, and Twisted Tandoor.
The name Sazerac comes from the New Orleans classic cocktail containing cognac, absinthe, sugar, and Peychaud’s bitters.
Much of Amalour’s chic interior, such as the button tufted booths, remain. However, it was an advantage since it already had a Creole vibe with its furniture and chandeliers, said Tiffany Eldredge, bartender for Sazerac. They’re hoping to add paint with shades of deep purple and tabletop lamps with velvet shades.
Eldredge honed her mixology skills at Vero Amore Plaza Palomino, then trained with her sister Amy Eldredge, who trained with the late craft cocktail icon Sasha Petraske at the cocktail bar Milk & Honey.
“Since Milk & Honey was on Eldridge street and our last name is Eldredge, Sasha saw it as fate and took her on,” Eldredge said.
Amy then worked at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, where JAM sent Tiffany to hone her skills in preparation for launching The Still.
“She trained us with Mr. Miyagi-like stuff – pouring between two bottles at the same height to build forearm strength,” Eldredge said.
Sazerac will feature classic cocktails inspired by the vibe of classic New Orleans bars such as the Carousel Bar & Lounge, rather than the bars with frozen Hand Grenade cocktails on tap.
“These cocktails aren’t a spectacle,” Eldredge said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but these are more sippable and you can order a second one easily.”
The tentative cocktail menu features a classic Sazerac with four variations featuring ingredients such as Scotch whisky, allspice, and mole bitters. Eight classic cocktails such as the Bijou Cocktail, Vieux Carré, and Absinthe Frappe are also available. House specialties include original creations such as the Brass Band with bourbon, Velvet Falernum, lemon, and ginger beer and the Louisiana Porch Sling with gin, Cointreau, orgeat, Cherry Heering, orange, lime, and Averna.
Cocktails are expected to range from $9 to $12.
Executive Chef Robert Iaccarino is no slouch either. Family friend and legendary chef Paul Prudhomme helped Iaccarino start at Creole-Italian restaurant Irene’s Cuisine in the French Quarter, where Iaccarino worked as the executive sous chef before moving on to Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.
“Chef Paul had the utmost dedication for fresh, local, quality ingredients,” Iaccarino said. “Every day had new fresh ingredients, and he went out of the way to use the expensive local crawfish rather than the imported Asian crawfish, which was about seven dollars less per pound.”
In addition, Sazerac will employ a farm-to-table approach.
“It’s not a buzzword,” Iaccarino said. The restaurant is working with regional farmers for ingredients such as southern Arizona green tomatoes, Sonoran honey, and local sausage. They’ve currently secured bread from La Estrella Bakery and coffee from Arbuckles’ Coffee. “We’re hoping to eventually get bread from Barrio Bread.”
Aside from the Prudhomme training, inspiration will draw from New Orleans restaurants that have been around since around as early as 1840, such as Antoine’s Restaurant, Tujague’s Restaurant, Galatoire’s Restaurant, and Arnaud’s Restaurant. Authenticity is one of Sazerac’s top priorities.
While Prudhomme invented the blackening technique that has made it into countless menus across the country, Iaccarino has his own twist.
“I don’t blacken,” Iaccarino said. “I bronze. Why burn when you can toast it? The components get a chance to blossom and it also looks lovelier.”
Operating hours will be 8 a.m. to midnight daily with food service ending at 10 p.m. Weekends will feature brunch, while Sunday brunch will feature live jazz music.
Sazerac Creole Kitchen & Cocktails opens January 16 in the St. Philip’s Plaza at 4280 N. Campbell Ave. For more information, call the restaurant at (520) 389-8156.