Jan 24, 201309:29 AM
All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans
Mardi Gras Cocktail Recipes
Elsewhere on this website, you will find all types of articles about Carnival and Mardi Gras. In fact, if you are new to this festival, you will wonder if there is anything else happening in the world.
Let me assure you: there isn’t.
Carnival, the season, and Mardi Gras, the day, are celebrations by which all other celebrations are measured. Not just here, everywhere. There have been many imitators. That’s flattering. They miss the mark by, oh say, the distance between the earth and the moon, but they try to capture what occurs here on a regular basis. It’s good that they try. It’s embarrassing the way they go about it.
You cannot suddenly take the DNA of a community and move a small piece of it to a town that every other time of the year shows no aptitude for such matters as parading, costuming, eating odd cakes, tolerating “adult” behaviors, staying up late, throwing items from moving floats, or, in the extreme, leaving and skiing in Colorado.
It’s like St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Chicago or New York City. Interesting, but without deep feelings. Too short. And not at all creative.
You Mardi Gras newbies will soon learn, if you have not already, that you cannot escape the season. Every local grocery store, every national drugstore chain, even oil change centers will proudly display their love of this important cultural phenomenon, in their own way. Homes will be decorated. We will eat food colored purple, green and gold.
Some usually sane residents have even left up their Christmas Tree from the season just passed to decorate it with beads, fleur de lis ornaments, previously caught cherished “throws” and condoms. They allow the now quite-spent, dried-to-a-crisp piece of foliage to possess a place of honor in their home.
This year the whole save-the-tree thing is reasonable, with Mardi Gras occurring barely a month from Twelfth Night. Next year, Mardi Gras is on March 4. That’s quite a stretch for something that has not seen Mother Earth since before Halloween.
Anyway, point is, don’t fight the all-encompassing nature of Carnival and Mardi Gras. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like nothing else is going on anywhere except here. Only parties, parades, traditions, balls, receptions, drinking sessions and more drinking sessions are of any import. The big question “Is my tux clean?” will be asked thousands of times. The car looks like something out of a "Mad Max" scorched earth movie, but the tux, well, that has to be right.
In the interest of assisting you in getting through this season of long tradition, 1699 was the year of our beginning and Mardi Gras was celebrated by the founders of New Orleans, Iberville and Bienville. Here are a few of the traditional thirst-slakers enjoyed by all.
[To Begin the Day]
Brandy Milk Punch
As defined by Chris MacMillian, New Orleans Magazine Mixologist of the Year, 2011
1 ½ ounces brandy
1 ounce simple syrup
½ bar spoon high quality vanilla extract
A couple ounces of Half-and-half
Pour brandy, simple syrup, vanilla extract and half-and-half into a pint glass. Add ice to a shaker and shake the concoction until well mixed and frothy. Add cubed ice to a rocks glass and, using a strainer, pour the mixture into it. Top with a bit of grated nutmeg.
This is pretty much a Bloody Mary with the addition of Beef Bouillon. Emeril Lagasse has a great recipe but it’s a bit more complicated. Well worth the extra effort, however. (Find it online here.)
2 ounces vodka
3 ounces Tomato Juice
2 ounces Beef Bouillon
1/2 ounces Lemon Juice
1 dash Tabasco Sauce
Black Pepper & Salt
Garnish: Lemon Wedge
Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a highball glass over crushed ice. Garnish with the lemon wedge.
[During the Day, All Day Long]
Grogs, punches and Tiki drinks are perfect for walking around, enjoying parades and people-watching. Refreshing. And with the fresh fruit juices, they are practically bordering on being classified “health drinks.” Just kidding about the last part.
This one is concocted by Chris Hannah, talented bar dude over at French 75 in Arnaud’s, and Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, new resident to our city and probably the greatest authority on Tiki drinks anywhere in the world. We are so lucky to have these guys walking amongst us.
1 ounce Puerto Rican Rum
1 ounce Myers' Dark
1/2 ounce Lemon Hart 151 Demerara
3/4 ounce Grapefruit
3/4 ounce Lime
3/4 ounce Honey Syrup (5 to 2)
3/4 ounce Soda
Place the first six ingredients (rums, citrus, syrups) into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Take the top off your cocktail shaker and pour the soda water over the mixture and ice in the cocktail shaker, then strain over an ice-filled highball cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wheel and grated nutmeg.
We definitely don’t want to exclude the beer drinkers. Still, enjoying a cold beer has to be more interesting at this time of year. And with the expansion of our locally brewed options, there are more flavors and more styles than ever before. (Recipe courtesy of about.com)
Juice from one large lime
1 12 ounce bottle light lager (that's light in color and flavor, not necessarily a low-cal beer.)
Lime wedge for garnish
Salt the rim of a large, tall glass. Fill with ice and add the lime juice. Top up with the beer. Garnish with the lime wedge.
[Towards the Evening]
Moving through Mardi Gras, many folks seem to quit after the last Truck Float has passed, or they just give out late in the afternoon. That actually is the time to mellow. You have bags and bags of beads and plush toys, maybe a panty or two, and you are looking to slide gracefully into that good night. Here is a very easy way to do it in style, courtesy of David Wondrich, cocktail historian and all around good guy at Esquire Magazine.
2 ounces London dry gin
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1/2 ounce lemon juice
5 ounces Brut champagne
Shake well with cracked ice in a chilled cocktail shaker, then strain into a Collins glass half-full of cracked ice and top off with champagne.
I actually prefer substituting cognac or brandy for the gin. Matter of taste. And besides, I can’t imagine any self-respecting Frenchman desiring an English spirit in a drink with their name in the title. But that’s me.
There are as many base martini recipes as there are people who possess a bottle of gin. Friends of New Orleans, and great authors, Anistatia R. Miller and Jared M. Brown, have just published, Shaken Not Stirred, A Celebration of the Martini, William Morrow, publishers. Only these two talented and creative authors could have soaked 225 pages out of this topic, and still made the volume feel stuffed with fun information and recipes.
Here’s one from Tokyo’s Bar High Five:
1.5 ounces of Beefeater’s 47% over ice that has been rinsed with ½ ounce of Dolin Extra Dry Vermouth, 4 atomizer sprays of Martini Bianco Vermouth, garnished with olive and a double twist of lemon peel.
All is well with Mardi Gras. And the next day absolves us. The total package makes New Orleans the special place it is.