Multi-tasking is an essential skill in today’s society, and many of you pride yourselves on doing it well. Some of you are better at this than others. And some of you think you are better at this than you really are. Far be it from me to suggest that you are not as good as you think. That is a role for your very best friends, your analyst, or your Mom – which, I suppose, could be the same person.
Multi-tasking is a necessary trait of living in the Crescent City. Here you must be able to participate in several unrelated activities simultaneously. That’s because this town is always tossing multiple pursuits of great interest in your direction, all at the same time, and you hate to miss any of them.
As a prime example, coming up is St. Patrick’s Day. For those of you who are focused on March 17, which is the actual liturgical commemoration date of Ireland’s favorite saint, know that if you wait for the date, you will have missed several parties and a number of parades.
This year the New Orleans Irish community will be tossing beads and cabbages this coming weekend on March 11 in the Irish Channel – new parade route this year so don’t assume your old spot is still a good place – and March 12 in Metairie. The Downtown Irish Club parade in the Bywater, the Marigny and the Quarter will roll on March 17.
By way of suggestion, if you have not already figured it out, green beer is a strictly American invention – and not a very good one at that. First of all, the beer used is usually not great. If you enjoy cheap suds, think 99 Cent Big Ass Beer on Bourbon Street, then have at it. Secondly, where do you think the green comes from? It’s food coloring. And if it can color beer, it can do the same to your teeth and lips. Not a becoming look, not even on St. Pat’s.
St. Patrick’s Day is a special event. You really should enjoy the brewed product from the Emerald Isle. Guinness at the tap comes to mind. Be certain the bar gives you a “proper pour” – like Erin Rose in the Quarter, Irish House, Ryan’s and Mick’s do so. It takes time but it’s worth the wait. Then most Irish bars also have Smithwick’s and Harp’s on draft.
Now, in keeping with the topic of today: this time of year, when we can be pretty certain the really cold weather is gone (not that we had any really cold weather this winter), I love all the fresh fruits and vegetables we are seeing. You already know what I am thinking: great drinks.
With festival season upon us, make up a big batch then have a pre-festival or post-festival gathering.
Yield: 12 servings
- 8 cups water
- 4 medium cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
- ½ bunch fresh mint
- 1 ½ cups agave syrup, honey or natural sugar
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1 (750 ml) bottle light (white) rum
- Crushed ice
- ½ liter sparkling water
- 1 medium medium cucumber, cut into thin rounds for garnish
- ½ bunch fresh mint
- lime wedges
- Combine water, cucumbers, mint, agave syrup and lime juice in a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve; discard solids.
- Combine cucumber mixture and rum in a large pitcher. Stir well. Refrigerate up to 4 hours.
- To serve, fill glasses with crushed ice. Fill halfway with cucumber mixture and top with sparkling water or soda. Garnish with a slice of cucumber, sprig of mint and lime wedge. Serves 16.
*For a kid-friendly alternative, make two batches and omit the rum in one. Serve with lemon-lime soda.
Note that in the “adult” version, sparkling water was used instead of the soda. Otherwise, to my taste, the drink becomes too sweet with the soda. But you may prefer your Mojito on the sweet side, and you can control the freshness and sweetness levels with a combination of sparkling water and soda.
Thanks to Relish Cooking Show and Brian Morris
(Gin, Basil, Cumber)
- 3 cucumber slices
- 3 basil leaves
- ½ tbsp. sugar (or ½ tbsp. of simple syrup)
- 1 ounce gin
- Fresh lime juice (to taste)
- ½ cup crushed ice
- ½ cup tonic water
- Roll two basil leaves together, slicing them into smaller pieces.
- Add sugar (or simple syrup) to glass, along with 1 ounce of gin, stirring until dissolved.
- Add two cucumber slices and two sliced basil leaves, muddle 5-10 times.
- Add lime juice to taste
- Add ½ cup crushed ice and ½ cup tonic water.
- Make a cut halfway through your last cucumber slice, placing it in the rim of the glass along with a basil leaf for garnish.
Thanks, Bob, at BS’ in the Kitchen
Won’t be long before Louisiana strawberries arrive in force, but some of us cannot wait. Here’s a well-named recipe, courtesy of the Imbibe® website, and created by a talented couple from Los Angeles, Dave Whitten and Arianna Reel Cook, and formerly featured at the sadly now-closed, One-Eyed Gypsy in L.A.
- 2 oz. Bourbon. Don’t skimp on quality here. Buffalo Trace is a good selection.
- 2 fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 3/4 oz. ginger syrup (equal parts fresh ginger juice and granulated sugar)
- 1/2 oz. honey syrup (1:1 honey dissolved in water)
- 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 2 dashes rhubarb bitters (click here for a DIY recipe)
- Club soda or Tonic, depending on your desire for sweet
- In a shaker, muddle the strawberries with the honey syrup. Add the remaining ingredients, except the club soda, and shake with ice. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass, top with soda.
Garnish: fresh strawberry slice and mint sprig
Read Happy Hour here on MyNewOrleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored, at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life," hosted by Tim every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Previously broadcast episodes are available for viewing at http://www.wlae.com/appetite-for-life/