Denial of the Spirits

Isn’t it fascinating that the meaning of some words is not at all the reality of the idea to be connoted?

For instance, fais do do is a really kick-ass Cajun party. But the words literally mean to go to sleep. When our French neighbors in South Louisiana wanted to get wild, dance, sing and drink adult beverages, they first had to put the children to bed with the instructions to go to sleep. They bid their wee ones fais do do – make “do do,” go to sleep, and then the adults went off and raised a ruckus. The ruckus took on the term, not the little angels sleeping. 

So it is with our current season. We have just finished the raucous season of Carnival where we tolerate, or act on, all manner of behavior that is not considered proper at other times of the year. Yet, Carnival is a word created from the Latin phrase, carne vale, meaning a farewell to meat.

While the Carnival season does usher in the more somber season of Lent, saying goodbye to meat may be the furthest stretch of that term as applied to that time. During Carnival we really don’t say good-bye to anything, and many of us say hello to poor judgment and overindulgence.

But we are not an unreasonable people, we citizens of New Orleans, and even we know that such behavior cannot go on forever, assuming by “forever” you mean for a couple of weeks before we once again pick up the lifestyles that define us, for better or worse.

Anyway, after we have suitably said farewell to meat and Carnival gives way to Lent, now is the season when a bit of sacrifice and denial are encouraged by our spiritual leaders. In this application, I am using the term “spiritual leaders” as a reference to organized religion as opposed to alluding to such fine and stalwart leaders as Jim Beam, Johnny Walker and Gentleman Jack Daniels.

This brings us to our point, giving up alcoholic beverages for Lent. I’ll bet you know someone who gives up alcohol for Lent. No drinking beer, wine or distilled spirits. No low alcohol brews. No low alcohol wines.

Maybe they give themselves a break along the way by saying Sundays don’t count, so on Sunday they indulge. Maybe they don’t. I am not involved one way or the other. It’s between them and their own reasons. But I will not be responsible for them not achieving what they set out to do. Each week in this column I will continue to report on, and comment about, the wide, wide world of alcoholic beverages.

Except this week.

This week, I will support your resolve and your good intentions. If it is something that is meaningful for you, then that’s good enough for me. Let me please offer you something that may be quite useful (a real departure from what we usually do here), and provide some thoughts on non-alcoholic beverages that have taste, are refreshing and can be enjoyed in social situations. We know you want to do this whole no-alcohol-during-Lent thing, and I, for one, do not wish to be a reason you could make it work.

Non-alcoholic mixed drinks are a breed apart. You, for the most part, cannot just mix up the ingredients usually used in an alcoholic beverage, leave out the spirit, and expect something decent to evolve. Drink recipes are built from the spirit up. When the base of the drink is omitted, you have short-changed the recipe and not created something that works. Ain’t the way to go.

However, there is a whole category of drinks called “mocktails” and these have been crafted without ever considering that a spirit will be involved. You probably remember the first mocktail you ever had, and maybe it was a Shirley Temple. The issue with mocktails is that when you get older, all that sugar and sweetness does not deliver the same pleasure as it did when you were a 7-year-old sugar-magnet.

So, we humbly venture where The Happy Hour blog has never gone before: Mocktails.

Easy Alexander 

1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 ounce boiling water
1 ounce cream
Sprinkle of nutmeg

Dissolve coffee and sugar in boiling water. Let cool. Combine with cream in a shaker half-filled with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Serve with nutmeg.

Frozen Mocha Russian

2 ounces black coffee
2 scoops chocolate ice cream
1 ounce cream
Sprinkle of chocolate shavings

Combine first three ingredients in a blender, no ice. Blend thoroughly. Pour into tall glass. Top with chocolate shavings.

Morally Pure Mudslide

1 scoop chocolate ice cream
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 ounce cold black coffee
2 tablespoons Café Vienna
1 ounce chocolate syrup
Milk or cream, blend to taste

Place all ingredients into blender and blend. Add milk or cream to achieve a smooth consistency. Pour into tall glass.

Nada Colada

¼ ounce rum extract
¼ ounce vanilla extract
3 ounces pineapple juice
3 ounces Coco Lopez
Milk or cream to blend
1 pineapple slice and 1 maraschino cherry

Pour all measured ingredients into blender with a cup of ice. Blend. Add milk or cream to reach a smooth consistency. Pour into tall glass. Garnish with pineapple slice and cherry.

The recipes are courtesy of The Everything Bartender’s Book, Third Edition, by Cheryl Charming.

Of course, if you are so inclined to really tempt fate by going to a bar, wanting to try something a bit more adventuresome, the author, Miss Charming, is the Chairman of the Bar over at The Bombay Club, 830 Conti St., in the Quarter.

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