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Oct 15, 200912:00 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Halloween Spirits



The way the whole Halloween thing has turned out is really logical when you think about it.

As children, most of us would find some costume that suited our desires, our situations or our available resources, and we would then go about looking like who-knows-what, asking our neighbors for candy. Nice touch for a pagan holiday, sending your offspring out to beg for sugar.

Yet it was fun and another opportunity to roam the neighborhood, only this time in the dark and with sweeter results.

As we grew up, Halloween parties ensued, complete with friends, at least a few of whom surprised us with their creativity and/or sheer gall to leave the house looking like that.

From there, because we live in a city that simultaneously lives an outrageous lifestyle, loves costuming and loves to party to excess, we put more and more emphasis on this ritual of fun gatherings and free eats –– only now we add drinks. No other holiday on the annual calendar lends itself to such strange concoctions in the beverage department as Halloween.

It seems people don’t mind combining ingredients in drinks that are of inferior quality and, oddly, items you would never consider mixing together in a saner moment, all to achieve a particular physical appearance or just a crazy good name.

And don’t think the manufacturers of those spirits –– or even winemakers –– have not dialed into the entire episode; they are pumping out Halloween party suggestions, of course all built around their usual products but with a seasonal twist.

Halloween has become that annual fall release from the mundane, providing us with a real excuse –– or opportunity –– to establish a level of celebration that has nothing to do with any preceding religious group, much less the celebration of the end of harvest as noted by the ancient Celts. What did they have to do with Star Trek and your well-worn Spock costume?

New Orleans, particularly this year, is going to be Halloween Party Central for America, not that we usually are not.

First of all, Halloween falls on a Saturday, so any excuse not to party because it’s a “school night” is immediately eliminated. Then there’s the Tulane-LSU football game in Baton Rouge, maybe the last time this rivalry will be engaged. It has not been a real football game for many years, and this year should be no exception, but it involves local institutions and just feels right to rally around.

Lastly, we have All Saints’ Day coming up immediately (the very next day), and that’s pretty important in a Catholic community. It’s also the day our town was awarded an NFL franchise: The team took the name of the day and has represented us to the nation’s football-crazed culture … sometimes not so well, but this year matters seem to be different.

OK, let’s proceed with the party, and quit complaining about people acting crazy for no good reason. There are plenty of good reasons, not the least of which is that we can always use the escape from our everyday parties by having special parties.

Back to beverages. Here are a couple of thoughts along those lines. First of all, just because you are dressed as a 6-foot okra, that does not give you the right to take full leave of your senses and drink badly. You have to maintain some standards. If not, the results are not pretty.

You can drink seasonally without sacrificing quality or good sense.

I’ve just enjoyed a white wine from Germany called Superstition. On the label, which is purple and black, is a black cat. Yes, that is what’s known as topical. The wine is a blend of Riesling and pinot blanc.

If you are thinking that is not what is known as a traditional German wine, then head to the top of the class. But the wine has been created for the American palate, and it is fun to drink, not terribly complicated, with good fruit expression and a very clean finish.

It will go with just about any junk food you are going to put into your system at the parties (you will be going to more than one, won’t you?), and its low alcohol level means you won’t be crawling home before 9 p.m. –– unless you start celebrating at 10 a.m.

At less than $10, it’s a good buy. Another advantage: You won’t have to carry around extra hardware in that skimpy costume because Superstition comes in screw-cap.

The creative gang over at Whisky Blue in the W Hotel on Poydras has concocted a recipe that calls for three types of rum, which should pretty much set a good tone for the evening. You can stop by there or follow the recipe for your own sugar-laden creation.

Witches’ Brew Recipe

2 1/4 ounce Bacardi Light

2 1/4 ounce Myers’s Rum

1 1/4 ounce Bacardi 151

2 1/2 ounce pineapple juice

2 1/2 ounce orange juice

1 1/4 ounce sour mix

1 1/4 ounce grenadine

Sour or regular gummy worms and silly straws for garnish

Fill glass completely with ice, and add all ingredients. Use your bar spoons to stir the drink until all ingredients are combined. It should be a pinkish- red color. Throw in a handful of gummy worms and the appropriate amount of silly straws needed.

Something a bit simpler but with just as intriguing a name makes use of a product called New Age. How can you go wrong there? It’s a rosé wine made from equal parts of Malbec and merlot, and it’s pretty tasty on its own. Still, maybe you would prefer to use it as the main ingredient in the:

New Age Rosé Blood Orange Sangria
6 ounces New Age Rosé
1 teaspoon simple syrup (2:1 parts sugar and water)
2 ounces fresh orange juice
Lime slice for garnish

Pour New Age Rosé into tall 14-ounce glass with ice. Add simple syrup, and then pour orange juice down the center. Squeeze fresh lime slice.
Do not shake!

OK, now get out there have a good time. Be careful, and remember to have a designated driver or the telephone number for a cab company. Or invite the gang over to your place; then all you have to worry about is navigating your way from the party area to your bedroom. And there are nights when that can be incredibly difficult.

Happy Halloween!!!


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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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