James M. Thresher for The Washington Post
Party on: The Sazerac.
With all the excitement in New Orleans, you’d think this would be a great cocktail day, but it’s usually not. Mostly, you’ll get all the sickly sweet Hurricanes and slushie Bourbon Street-style “daiquiris” you can stomach. In fact, Fat Tuesday is akin to Cinco de Mayo -- a day when you can’t seem to find a decent margarita to save your life.
This year, why not celebrate Mardi Gras with a few of New Orleans’s actual classic cocktails? They won’t be poured from Slurpee machines or served in plastic “hand grenades,” but you might actually enjoy them.
Here are six ideas:
• Vieux Carre . This is my favorite New Orleans cocktail, invented at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone -- where you measure your drinking time by how many turns you make around the revolving bar. The mix of rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, dashes of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters and a little kiss of Benedictine is the counterbalance to Bourbon Street shenanigans.
• Cocktail a la Louisiane . Another variation on the Vieux Carre and Sazerac -- in fact, you could easily set up a small bar of five bottles and two bitters to serve these first three cocktails.
• Boston Club Punch . This was the traditional drink of New Orleans’s turn-of-the-20th-century Boston Club. It’s an odd recipe to a modern audience, since it seems to include a very small amount of booze in relation to the white wine and sparkling wine. But one must understand that it’s served in a huge punch bowl and was meant to be consumed all afternoon and into the evening. In other words, it’ll catch up with you.
• Pimm’s Cup. A staple of the famed Napoleon House Bar and Cafe. Such wonderful simplicity: Two ounces of Pimm’s No. 1 in an ice-filled highball glass, topped with 7UP. Squeeze in a generous slice of lemon and garnish with a cucumber. Repeat as necessary.
• Cajun Lemonade . A contemporary, higher-octane variation on the Pimm’s Cup for people who like spicy. It calls for the addition of cachaça as well Louisiana’s own Tabasco sauce.