Mardi Gras is one of the biggest parties on the planet. And sure, it’s all about letting the good times roll, but when it comes to drinking–it’s serious business. I headed down to Bourbon Street this week to get a taste of the flavors that keep the French Quarter rocking into the wee hours of the morning.
Virtually everyone is familiar with the Big Easy’s signature mixed drink, the Hurricane. Although the fruit-flavored Rum drink was presumably invented at Pat O’Brien’s (718 St. Peters Street) notorious piano bar, today there are unlimited watering holes throughout the city offering their own take on the classic cocktail.
Surprisingly, however, it might not be the most popular drink in the Bayou. That title probably belongs to the slightly lesser-known Hand Grenade served at the Tropical Isle (721 Bourbon Street). The proprietary recipe of this trademarked drink is a mystery, yet for more than 20 years it’s been marketed as “New Orlean’s Most Powerful Drink.” It’s served in bright, neon yardsticks generally seen in the hands of the countless co-eds peppering the streets of the Quarter.
For something a little more laid-back (and a great deal less loud), the veteran drinker should turn to the Vieux Carre. This classy libation was invented nearly a century ago in the legendary Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal Street). Based around Rye Bourbon and Peychaud’s Bitters, it’s a sophisticated sipper that goes down smooth, providing the perfect backdrop for world-class French Quarter people-watching.
If reserved sophistication isn’t exactly your cup of tea–you are at Mardi Gras, after all–you might be inclined to give the VooDoo Daiquiri a spin. Lafitte’s Olde Blacksmith Shop Bar (941 Bourbon Street) offers the mind-melding mixer that smashes together Bourbon, Everclear and grape juice. The end result: a purple elixir that goes down like a popsicle. If you can’t stand the thought of that, don’t worry, after a few of ‘em you won’t be able to stand at all.
More to come throughout the week, live from Mardi Gras.