This season of (mostly) organized chaos takes on universal significance for New Orleans because, like the celebration itself, the entire time is wrapped in an enigma:
We are defined year-round by the events that take place right now.
Lately the Carnival Season has taken on the appellation of the last day; almost constant references meant for “Carnival” are noted as “Mardi Gras.”
No community anywhere in the world stages a party for itself of this duration or of this intensity starting annually on Jan. 6 and ending on a pre-defined Tuesday as early as Feb. 3 or as late as March 9.
The entire season with all its activities – which are practically uncountable and include huge, elaborate balls, all of the parades and other social festivities – is done completely through private funds and is staged by the patrons and participants themselves; corporate advertising in parades is not allowed.
The many Carnival celebrations touch every part of the New Orleans area; no one is excluded from multitudes of Carnival activities. You want to join in at a level of your choosing? Then do it!
Masking is a must for float riders, and for ground-level participants it adds immeasurably to your enjoyment of the festival. There is a bond among folks who voluntarily mask; the more effort and thought, not necessarily money, you put into your costume, the more you will be accepted as a Mardi Gras professional.
That being noted, the French Quarter is Ground Zero on the big day, with no end of locals and out-of-towners happy to be enjoying that last gasp of party before Ash Wednesday.
To get off your feet for a bit, you may want to consider The Bombay Club as a quiet and sane oasis in a crazy sea of humanity. Mixologist Blake Kaiser has even developed a drink for the place and occasion, but it comes with no promises that its name will have the desired results.
3/4 ounce Cana Brava Rum
3/4 ounce Cocci Americano
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Float of Crème de Violette
Add first four ingredients to shaker with ice and shake. Strain and pour into rocks glass. Pour the Crème de Violette gently over back of a spoon into the drink. Add twist of lime.
As served at Bombay Club, located in the Prince Conti Hotel,
830 Conti St., BombayClubNewOrleans.com