There are so many things in our culture that are difficult to explain to people not from here. King Cakes, Carnival, those beads, not using turn signals in our cars, parking those same cars up on neutral grounds, neutral grounds, St. Joseph’s Day, hurricane preparations, go cups, crawfish, street name pronunciations, and much more.

 

Often we must all seem like the brothers and sisters from another planet.

 

But the item that truly and surprisingly escapes the full understanding of people not from around here is football. Oh sure, other places are also football crazy. But not like we are football crazy. The only thing that keeps us from going into a complete deep funk at the end of football season is that it coincides with the beginning of Carnival Season. We can decompress slowly to the rhythms of the most exciting street parties ever.

 

Are we really football fanatics more than most? Are you well-versed in team records, player stats, and play-calling at the high school, college and professional levels of the sport?  Do you like the colors of purple, green, gold, black, and white more than just about anything else? Would you eat food in those colors? Does Drew Brees inhale the same air as you? Oh, my goodness, yes, yes, yes, and yes.   

 

Our mature attitudes towards alcohol consumption, and we really are the adults in the room compared to other places in America, allow us to enjoy a wide range of fermented and distilled liquids no matter where we are while our favorite teams carry our banners on high. No matter whether we feel closely to a football program because they are from a school we feel affection for or have attended, or whether the team is from the town we love, we will be celebrating in grand style with our favorite beverages, cheering them on and slurping on something with great gusto.

 

The logical beverage is beer. Easy to obtain, no mixing required, and usually comes in friendly containers. Our local choices have expanded dramatically over the past several years. Abita Beer  was, for a very long time, our only option. Still is a great selection, but now there are others.

 

NOLA Brewing right here in the city limits brews an ever-changing palate of refreshing beers, including the get-your-tastebuds’-attention, Hopitoulas. The name is a play on one of the ingredients in the beer and the street name where the brewery is located. Please don’t make me explain.

 

From up the road in Baton Rouge comes Tin Roof, featuring Blonde Ale and Amber Ale, both go down quite nicely.

 

One of my favorites hails from further to the west, LA 31. This Acadiana brewery knocks it out of the park with their Bière Pâle. Love that stuff from along the banks of Bayou Teche.

 

And then heading north into the Magnolia State, Lazy Magnolia beers, particularly their Southern Pecan Ale, defines the art of adding other ingredients besides grain, hops and water into beer.

 

All of these, and a few more from these local and area breweries, are available in cans at most grocery and bottle stores.

 

The margarita is always much appreciated and enjoyed by all. It’s refreshing, alcohol-forward, and feels like a cocktail with weight. Food & Wine online just “discovered” that triple sec and/or that heavy sugar sweet syrup used by so many bars is not really very good. Welcome to the real world, Food & Wine.

 

I’ve been an advocate of using Cointreau in a margarita, instead of that sweet-and-sour  treacle, for years. Food & Wine is advocating agave syrup. I guess it just really depends on your palate. If you are a sweet cocktail lover, then go for the agave syrup. For me, I like fresh citrus and lots of it, and I like alcohol in a cocktail. Radical concept. I’m sticking with equal parts Cointreau, Silver-grade Tequila, and fresh-squeezed lime juice. If that is too tart for you, keep a dab of the agave syrup handy.

 

Since our football season continues to coincide with summer temps, cooler drinks are a way to go, particularly with chips and dips. Gin & Tonic with a good dollop of fresh lime works beautifully and does not require anyone to spend hours in the bar area missing the entire third quarter.

 

Same is true of a Pimm’s Cup. You can complicate the process, but why?  

 

Or how about rum? Absolutely one of the best spirits every created.

 

Since this is National Bourbon Month, do you need any more reason to make something special with the best Kentucky has to offer?

 

Let’s move on this. The game is coming on in just a few minutes.

 

Salty Dog

Staying on the tart side, the better to pair with chips, dips and nuts.

Thanks to Maggie Hoffman, senior editor, Serious Eats

 

1 1/2 ounces gin, such as Tanqueray No. 10

3 ounces fresh grapefruit juice, from 1 large pink grapefruit

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice, from 1 lime

Garnish: Pinch Maldon salt

 

Add gin and grapefruit juice to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into ice-filled glass, add salt on top and serve.

 

 

Mojito

Invented in Cuba, made popular by Hemingway, enjoyed worldwide. And easy to make.

Respectully borrowed from aboutfood, about.com

 

2 teaspoons sugar

6-8 mint leaves

Club soda

1 lime, halved

2 ounces light rum, Cruzan is suggested

Mint sprig for garnish

 

Place the sugar, the mint leaves, and a little club soda into a highball glass.

Muddle well to dissolve the sugar and to release the mint flavor.

Squeeze the juice from both halves of the lime into the glass.

Drop one half of the lime into the glass.

Add the rum.

Stir well.

 

Fill the glass with ice cubes.

Add the rest of the club soda.

Garnish with the mint sprig.

 

Kentucky Buck

Belongs to the same family of cocktails as the ever-popular Moscow Mule

Thanks to Erik Castro, San Diego, and Saveur MagazIne

 

1 chopped strawberry
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
2 oz. Wild Turkey bourbon
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz. ginger beer
Strawberry slice, for garnish
 

Muddle chopped strawberry, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add bourbon, 2 dashes bitters, and ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with ginger beer; garnish with a strawberry slice.

 

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