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Feb 10, 201012:00 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Massive Quantities

We have, we think, given you some very good thoughts on working through this challenging season of celebration, probably unprecedented in the history of this village: championship games, then Super Bowl, now Valentine’s Day, all overlaying a thick veneer of Carnival.

Now comes The Big One. The culmination of Carnival is Mardi Gras, and as my dear friend Errol Laborde likes to note, Mardi Gras is a Tuesday; Carnival is a season. But that’s his fight, not mine.

I want to remind you that before we get to Mardi Gras, the Tuesday, we have to wade through and survive the final jumbo weekend of parades and parties. Seems like we have been dealing with such matters for a long while, but hasn’t it been fun? Gotta love living in this town!

Anyway, assuming you have done the right thing for those who deserve such treatment in the acknowledgement of Valentine’s Day, now, just two days later, you are faced again with a major dilemma: What am I going to carry and drink during Mardi Gras?

Several factors come into play, including how far you have to carry beverages to get to “your spot”; what you like to drink; how complicated you want to make it; and what supporting materials you’ll have to carry, such as ice, cups, garnish, etc.

For beer drinkers, it all becomes pretty easy. Beer is available all over the place, so you don’t have to carry any with you, unless you’re into that white Belgian ale. That will be tough to find, so don’t put yourself through it. Compromise.

Anyway, why don’t you and your buds/family/spouse do something interesting and fun that will accomplish what you want with some style?

Think batch drinks. You know, those really tasty concoctions that you can make in advance and enjoy throughout the day. Drinks that encourage you to make a lot and not worry about it again. Moving around may be a challenge if you have to haul a bucket, but if you have a single spot where you settle down or one where you can crash, then you’re good to go for making great drinks in large quantities.

Everyone loves batch drinks –– maybe a bit too much sometimes. Remember during those college years when you were mixing up whatever in garbage cans? Let’s not go down that well-trod path anymore. You’re more mature now. You know better. You do, don’t you?  

Batch drinks are just perfect for Mardi Gras. They quench your thirst, are fun, can be shared and are quite tasty. What’s not to like?

Chris Hannah, the incredibly talented bartender at French 75, the cozy watering hole at Arnaud’s, is featured in my Last Call column this month in New Orleans Magazine. The recipe for his traditional Mardi Gras creation, Nui Nui Punch, is available online here. Check it out.

Or maybe you would like to concoct something more mainstream, but if you do, I want you to think about adding your own touches. It’s fun.  Here are few thoughts to get you started, courtesy of the indispensable guide drinkology: The Art and Science of the Cocktail by James Waller (Stewart, Tabori and Chang).

Rum Punch
1    bottle (750 ml) light rum
1    bottle (750 ml) Jamaican rum
1 1/2 quarts orange juice
1    quart pineapple juice
4   ounces fresh lemon juice
2    ounces  simple syrup
1    teaspoon ground allspice
1    teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2   teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
12  ounces chilled ginger ale
6   scoops pineapple and/or orange sherbet (to taste if you wish)

Combine the rum, juices, simple syrup and spices in a large container. Stir well. Refrigerate for three or four hours. When ready to serve, pour the mixture into a large punchbowl or container. Add the ginger ale. Stir gently.

Add a large block of ice to the punchbowl. Float the scoops of sherbet on top of the punch. Makes about 36 four-ounce servings.

Artillery Punch
1    quart strong tea
1    quart bourbon
1    quart dry red wine
2    cups dark rum
1    cup brandy
1    cup gin
1    pint orange juice
Sugar (to taste)
1    orange, cut into medium slices (for garnish)
1    lemon, cut into medium slices  (for garnish)

Steep the tea, and allow it to cool. Combine the tea with the other liquid ingredients in a large bowl or other container. Add sugar, as needed to your taste. Chill thoroughly for at least 24 hours before serving.

Just before serving, place a block of ice in the bowl, and then pour the punch over it. Float the orange and lemon slices on top. Makes about 36 four-ounce servings.

Bicycle Built for Two
1    orange, sliced
2    lemons, sliced
6   ounces Cointreau or triple sec
1 1/2 cups  brandy
1 1/2 cups  ruby port
1    cup orange juice
6    ounces fresh lemon juice
Lemon wedges
Superfine sugar

Place the orange and lemon slices in a large glass pitcher. Pour in the Cointreau, and gently muddle the fruit and liqueur. Add the brandy, port and juices. Stir well. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

When you are ready to serve, rim collins or highball glasses with the lemon wedges and superfine sugar. Fill the glasses with ice, and then pour the punch. Makes about 12 servings

What you should particularly note here is that these drinks require plenty of preparation time. The settling time is very important to allow the ingredients to get comfortable with each other. So leave yourself lots of time when you make the drinks, prior to their serving.

And go easy on the drinking. Mardi Gras is a long day, and these drinks contain plenty of alcohol and sugar. They could make you sleepy long before you want to be. And then you’ll certainly miss something.

Happy Mardi Gras to all, and share the good times. 

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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