Goodbye, San Francisco 49ers. Nice having you here, Baltimore Ravens. We hope you had a good time and we look forward to you coming back.


Are they gone yet? Good. Now let the party begin. It was a nice break but the real season can now rightfully step forward, and the word “super” is not a part of it.


It’s Carnival Time and this is the celebration we throw for ourselves. Oh sure, visitors are never excluded but this is New Orleans’ bash. This is the thing we do best, and this is the reason we have the reputation as a town that really knows how to throw a party. Thank you, Roger, but we’ll take it from here.


There is honestly no better drink to enjoy with the upcoming schedule of parades, balls and parties than rum. Sure, beer is easy and cheap. Champagne and sparkling are easy too but they are not cheap. When you are putting in a hard day at the cup, price can play a role. You can get a lot of enjoyment from a nice rationing of rum. I speak from experience here.


Rum is a spirit just made for our climate and history. Rum practically put the islands of the Caribbean on the map, and we have been described, given our penchant for odd, almost indescribable, governance as “the northernmost Caribbean nation.”


The climate of the West Indies, particularly Puerto Rico, is perfect for the farming of sugar cane, and the molasses made from the cane is perfect for the fermentation and distillation processes necessary to produce quality rum. This is not to say that those islands are the only place to do this. Actually rum, one of the world’s oldest spirits, if not the oldest, is occurring in Louisiana, even in New Orleans, with the presence of at least three rum distilleries.


Rum played a key role in the expansion of the British Empire, with sailors being allowed a ration of rum every day. Lime was added to the rum to minimize or eliminate the occurrence of scurvy on-board. And after a time, water was added to the rum to minimize the effects of the alcohol. Those ships that served the best “grog,” as this concoction of rum, water and lime was known, were able to acquire the best sailors. Evidently it was a choosers market.


Admiral Horatio Nelson, the great British naval commander killed at the Battle of Trafalgar near Spain, desired to be buried on English soil. His body was stuffed into a barrel of rum to preserve him during the journey home. After arrival in his beloved Sceptered Isle, the barrel was opened and there Nelson was, pickled, but the rum was gone. Seems the sailors had tapped into the barrel and with straws sucked the preserving spirit. Rum picked up one of its nicknames, Nelson’s Blood, from this experience. Also when someone was going to drink some rum, maybe with a straw, it was said they were “tapping the Admiral.”


What we never learned in history class is that one of the earliest businesses on Manhattan was a rum distillery. And the largest, most prosperous industry in Colonial America was the manufacture of rum. This was primarily due to wood craftsmen and the abundance of raw materials used in the manufacture of barrels, not so much on the quality of raw product, which could be correctly described as “rough and raw.” More than 12 million gallons of rum were consumed annually by the colonists.


As to our situation with Carnival, there are several rums to consider:

Light Rum – usually medium grade and quite serviceable. Clear without much flavor on their own. Works great in mojitos, daiquiris and punches.

Amber Rum – also called “gold,” these rums receive their color from the aging barrels. Deeper color is indicative of some time spent in barrel which also adds to depth of flavor.

Dark Rum – aged in charred whisky barrels, primarily comes from Jamaica. Wonderful smooth flavors, perfect with tonic and lime, as well as adding class to mai tai’s.

Spiced Rum – flavored with cinnamon and cloves, among other spices, and sometimes colored with caramel to add color depth.

Flavored Rum – coconut, mango, banana flavors added to the rum, which sometimes results in a too-sweet, cloying quality. But popular in Bahama Mama’s and Bay Breeze cocktails.


There are also Premium Rums, which are aged for years and are meant to be enjoyed like fine cognac; and there are Dry Rums, which are made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses, and not aged in wood but stainless steel vats.


How about some suggestions for quick and easy parade-watching drinks? Yes, I thought you would like that.




2 oz.  Dark Rum

½ oz. Brandy (Cognac)

½ oz  fresh lime juice

½ oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice

½ oz  simple syrup (to taste; the rum, cognac and orange may make the drink sweet enough for you)


Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.




2 ½ oz. Light Rum

½ oz.    Cointreau or triple sec

½ oz     Maraschino liqueur

½ oz     fresh lime juice


Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.




2 oz.  Light Rum

2 oz.  Beef bouillon

½ oz  fresh lemon juice

2 dashes Tabasco or Crystal sauce (to taste)

Freshly ground salt and pepper (to taste)


Combine the ingredients, except for salt and pepper, in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into old-fashioned glass, fill with ice cubes. Sprinkle salt and pepper into drink to taste. Remember the bouillon and the hot sauces both have a good bit of salt.


Havana Cocktail


2 oz. Light Rum

2 oz. Pineapple Juice

½ oz. fresh lemon juice


Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, with ice. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass


(recipes courtesy of James Waller, author of Drinkology: The Art and Science of the Cocktail, 2003, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York)


Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! Going to be a great time for one and all.