While running around the busy streets of New York City, I couldn’t help but notice glistening beads and jeweled masks peaking out of shopping bags and the faint smell of cinnamon cake seeping from bakery doors. I sensed something was going on, but couldn’t quite put my finger on what big party was about to happen that I had not been invited to! I reached for my handy new MacBook Air and with a little help from the ever so reliable Google, I decided to find out what was creating such a buzz. In about 0.21 seconds it all made sense; the brightly colored decorations and sticky sweet treats are all in preparation for Mardi Gras!
Mardi Gras, also referred to as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday and Carnival, arrives each year during the dull of this mid-winter season. It is a colorful day celebrated worldwide by lavish, over-the-top festivities and succumbing to life’s indulgences. I for one will be stringing plenty of shiny plastic beads around my neck, eating cubes of glazed cinnamon cake and serving up my favorite Mardi Gras whiskey cocktails.
For a taste of the Carnival spirit I have chosen two cocktails created in New Orleans; a city that hosts one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations worldwide.
A local Crescent City variation of an old-fashioned, this legendary cocktail is a potent mix of rye whiskey, absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters.
2 parts rye whiskey (try Hudson Manhattan Rye)
1/4 part simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Give the chilled glass an absinthe rinse. Here’s the fun part! Throw out the ice and spin the glass in the air while shouting Sazerac. This forces the liquid rinse of Absinthe around the inside of the glass. Stir other ingredients in a mixing glass, strain into the chilled glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Named for the French Quarter in New Orleans, this libation traces its origin back to the infamous Carousel Bar at the Montelone Hote during the 1930’s.
1 part rye whiskey (try Hudson Manhattan Rye)
1 part cognac
1 part sweet vermouth
1 teaspoon of Benedictine
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash Angostura aromatic bitters
Pour the whiskey, Cognac and vermouth into an old-fashioned glass half-filled with ice. Add the bitters and the Benedictine, then stir four times with a silver spoon. Garnish with a lemon twist.