For many New Orleanians, even those who for most of the year are not strict followers of a particular Faith, Lent is a season of sacrifice. Nothing wrong with that approach, and it does not hurt to give up something you love to eat, drink or experience for about six weeks.
The denial is likely not as character-building as the nuns would like us to believe, but, again, can’t hurt. Then there is the early-to-the Denial Fest movement that someone in England started in January. Dry January has crossed into America and encouraged consumers to “give it up”, a mirror program to what Catholics have been doing during Lent since the Middle Ages.
But it’s not all just black or white. There are shades of adherence all along the spectrum between no booze at all and on the other end, maybe just no alcohol on Friday. Maybe.
Still, if commitment is measured in good intentions, then good people walk among us.
One of the ways many fine folks identify their strict adherence of a no-alcohol effort is to eliminate or reduce the actual presence of alcohol in our beverage selection, without eliminating the supporting cast of side ingredients. The program of sacrifice is still, technically, pure since the key ingredient never leaves your liquor cabinet and does not make its way to your glass. As I said, a technicality.
So, a Planter’s Punch or a Margarita morphs into a healthy glass of sweetened fruit juice, and if you pass through a DUI checkpoint, you will not be guilty, only healthy.
The industry has named such concoctions, mocktails. Here are a few recipes that may help you survive until April 12.
As served at Toro, New York City
- 1.5 oz lime juice
- 1 oz grapefruit juice
- 1 oz agave syrup
- Healthy pinch of sea salt
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain over ice into a Collins glass and top with soda.
Let Me Get Some Rhubarb
Created by Mark Noonan for Highway Restaurant & Bar, East Hampton
- 1.5 oz lime juice
- 1 oz basil syrup
- 3 dashes rhubarb bitters
Shake first three ingredients with ice. Strain into a rocks glass and top with seltzer. Garnish with a slice of fresh rhubarb.
These no-alcohol cocktails were chosen because they are not just cocktails in which the alcohol has been deleted. These were designed from the beginning without alcohol. And these make use of ingredients not usually associated with this style of crafted drink.
Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com on Thursdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails every month in New Orleans Magazine.