When you think of cities with some personality, New Orleans has got to be towards the top of the list. The biggest party in town? Mardi Gras, the Fat Tuesday celebration that marks the last chance to indulge before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the lenten season.
Along with the annual parade, music, and bead throwing, drinking is a staple of the holiday. The party starts early, up to two weeks before Fat Tuesday, with the largest parades (and parties) starting the weekend before. From then on out it’s a 24/7 party, one that should be on everyone’s bucket list of must-see-in-person events.
Not making the trip this year? If you want in on some of that New Orleans magic from home, get your party on with one of these Mardi Gras-themed cocktails.
The drink that’s synonymous with New Orleans: the hurricane. What started as a local bar’s response to the World War II whiskey ban has become an icon of the city. And fair warning, like the storm it’s named after, the drink is strong.
- In a large measuring cup, combine 2 ounces of light rum, 2 ounces dark rum, 3 ounces of passion fruit juice, 3 ounces orange juice, and 1 tablespoon of grenadine.
- Pour over ice in a large glass.
- Garnish with orange slices and maraschino cherries.
- Sit back and enjoy the parade!
New Orleans shares the same famed French origins as this classic cocktail (named after the rifle of choice for French World War I soldiers, because both can ‘knock you down flat’). While it’s not directly connected to Mardi Gras, it’s a great cocktail for a celebration thanks to the added champagne.
- In a cocktail shaker full of ice, combine 1 ounce of gin, ½ ounce of lemon juice, ½ ounce of simple syrup and shake until chilled.
- Strain into a champagne flute, and top with 3 ounces of champagne.
- Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy!
Maybe the oldest cocktail on this list, the Sazerac comes just blocks from Jackson Square thanks to 1800s Creole apothecary Antoine Peychaud. Like an old fashioned with a bit of crescent city magic, this drink has become the official cocktail of New Orleans, which makes it a perfect choice for Mardi Gras weekend (and beyond).
- Rinse the inside of a rocks glass with a splash of absinthe.
- In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of rye whiskey, ¼ ounce of simple syrup, and 3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters.
- Stir until chilled and strain into the absinthe rocks glass, either neat or over fresh ice.
- Garnish with lemon.
If you’ve been to Mardi Gras, you’re no stranger to flashers. The tradition of nudity in exchange for beads (likely caused by drunkenness in the first place) has inspired its own cocktail. Similar to a dark and stormy, it’s tasty and simple, which makes it easy to enjoy parade-side.
- In a tall glass of ice, add 2 ounces of dark rum, 6 ounces ginger ale, and 1 teaspoon of grenadine.
- Add mint for garnish, or just start drinking!
Like any classic drink, the Roffignac has a handful of differing origin stories. Some will tell you it was invented by Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac (who was mayor of New Orleans back in the 1820s). Others will tell you that it’s just named after him, or that it’s named after the cognac brand. Whichever tale you choose to believe, it’s a great Mardi Gras drink that’s been baked into the history of New Orleans for centuries.
- In a glass, add crushed ice, 2 ounces of cognac, and one ounce of raspberry liqueur.
- Top it off with club soda and a lemon twist for garnish.
When it comes to Mardi Gras, any drink will do. What beverages will you be enjoying this year? Let us know in the comments section!