Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of New Orleans. I’ve spent many nights wandering in and out of its historic bars and restaurants, sampling signature concoctions, both classic and newfangled, at establishments like Napoleon House, Commander’s Palace, and Artaud’s.
I especially like NOLA in its quieter seasons, when the bartenders have a little more time to chat, share recipes, and tell me bawdy stories of beaded and debauched carousers. New Orleans, after all, is the apocryphal home to the very first cocktail.
That being said, and perhaps more because of my distaste for huge mobs of people, you won’t be catching me in the Big Easy during Mardi Gras. Like so many fine American traditions, the cocktail culture around Mardi Gras has ballooned into a mass market orgy of overpriced, oversized, and artificially flavored slushies toted around by sweaty, self-debasing tourists from in-and-around the Redneck Riviera. No thanks.
Instead, I’ll do what I’ve done in years past: invite a few of my nearest and dearest over to the house, whip up some crawfish étouffée, bake a King Cake, and mix some fresh, delicious, Carnival cocktails.
With these recipes — contemporary takes on some of the world’s original mixed drinks — I’ve aimed to give you a taste of the authentic New Orleans without the tawdry Fat Tuesday trademark.