Fun Fact: You can, it turns out, go to the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade and not drink. That is, while sobriety is slightly frowned upon, there’s no rule against it and you won’t be sent home. This is of course my way of saying that, despite a weekend filled with brewery tours, long rambles in the French Quarter, that included a happy hour visit to the gorgeous courtyard at Brennan’s and a St. Patrick’s Day parade, I am still alcohol free. Today is day 36 of the Nola.Com #AlcoholFreeFor40 Challenge, with a mere 11 days to go and as I mentioned in last week’s post, it’s getting a little more challenging as we inch closer to finish line. The math adept readers among you will likely have noted that this year, Lent is not 40 days and 40 nights. No ladies and gentlemen, it’s 46. We’ve been hornswoggled this Lenten season! But, rather than cut it short on principle (which would mean I’m free to pass go and drink this weekend on Palm Sunday), I’m sticking to it until Easter. Also, in the spirit of Pope Francis’ call for a jubilee year of mercy, I’m forgiving the Church for this supersized period of fasting, abstaining and penance. We probably deserved it, no?
It safe to say that by week five, I’ve gotten good at planning ahead for activities that usually involve considerable tippling. Packing the cooler with non-alcoholic beer for the parade, calling ahead to Nola Brewing Company to ask what they have on tap besides beer (they had me at Mexican Coke) and always having in mind an easy to make suggestion for bartenders (anyone can whip up a club soda with a splash of cranberry and a lime wedge), were simple measures to take to ensure that not only our houseguests in for the weekend had fun, but that I did too. It was a hard-won lesson, as during the first two weeks of the challenge, I suffered much disappointment the times I, for example, assumed an establishment would carry non-alcoholic beer and that was not the case. C’est le vie. An establishment that never disappoints is Brennan’s. Even without calling ahead, I was confident during an impromptu stop for respite and refreshments in the courtyard, the bartender would have something fizzy, fabulous and alcohol free up his sleeve and I was correct. Mark ordered a hibiscus Pimm’s cup; my mother-in-law had a French 75 (my No. 1 choice of adult beverage); and our nephew kicked back with a beer. My pink apple cranberry fizz with a twist of lemon was delightful, flavorful and refreshing and helped reduce my envy over missing out on my favorite cocktail.
The next week and four days includes the Louisiana Derby. As an avid horse racing fan, who truly enjoys a Bloody Mary or three at the Fair Grounds, I admit I’m a little disappointed that I’ll have to forego the vodka. Thankfully, as I discovered in week three, a virgin Bloody Mary tastes exactly like its saucy sister.
Several people have asked the question, “What will you have as your first drink after the challenge?” Over the next few days, I plan to pick up a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne to crack open on Easter Sunday. Because as countless T-shirts, decorative throw pillows and Pinterest board memes proclaim, “Champagne is always a good idea.”