February is a month of both mythology and romance. Emissaries of gods and Kings will rule the streets on the opening days of the calendar’s shortest month, peaking on Mardi Gras, the 9th day, with romance and desire taking the reins on the 14th day.

To honor both mistresses and masters, past New Orleans Magazine Mixologist of the Year, Alan Walter from Loa in the International House Hotel, has created a new cocktail, Bona Dea, honoring the Roman goddess associated with chastity and fertility, fruitfulness and ecstasy. Opposing concepts wrapped together. That is about as New Orleans an idea as a Roman goddess can achieve.  

Through the use of strong wine and spirits, and with the permission of other gods in the Roman mythological pantheon, Bona Dea was allowed to perform ceremonies usually reserved for men. However, her cult was all-female and had a special place on Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills on which Rome was founded. The Vestal Virgins, whose temple is on the hill, were legendary members of the cult of Bona Dea.

The modern expression of all that Bona Dea represented might very well be the masses celebrating Carnival with public displays of merriment followed by the intimacy of St. Valentine’s Day, all wrapped up in one month: February.


Bona Dea

2 ounces St. George Terroir Gin
1 ounce Absentroux Herbal Wine Specialty
½ ounce Suze French Bitters
½ ounce Farigoule French Thyme Liqueur
Fresh dill sprig
Lemon slice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, with ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain. Pour into rocks glass. Garnish with lemon twist and dill.

As created by Alan Walter, Loa Bar, International House Hotel, 221 Camp St., 553-9550