Even at her BYO Bibou, Charlotte Calmels has always been a proud - some might say persnickety - proponent of French-centric drinking. Now that she has her own liquor license at Le Chéri, she's followed through in style with a wine list that is très francais. The same is true for the beers (like Bourganel) and cocktails made from French spirits. The Sazerac, of course, is a New Orleans drink, a pre-Civil War concoction tinted with Peychaud's bitters and anise Herbsaint considered the oldest American cocktail. New Orleans' French heritage, Calmels concedes, gives it special consideration - especially for Mardi Gras. But the original Sazerac, in fact, also used French Cognac instead of now-common rye. So Pierre Ferrand it is in bartender Tracy Corbett's fine "classique," its suave brandy tones tuned up with a lemon-zested rim, then perfectly balanced by the unsweetened herbal anise ping of Vieux Pontarlier absinthe from - France (but of course!)
- Craig LaBan
Classique Sazerac, $14, Le Chéri, 251 S. 18th St., 215-546-7700.