Home Features Celebrate Mardi Gras with These NOLA-Inspired Cocktails

Celebrate Mardi Gras with These NOLA-Inspired Cocktails

Mardi Gras, which takes place on February 9, is just around the corner — and with it, visions of colorful beads, scantily clad costumed revelers, jazz music, and of course, cocktails. (So what if there’s still snow on the ground in some places? This is New Jersey. We eat adversity for breakfast – with a topping of pork roll, natch.)
Ever wonder how Mardi Gras came to be associated with New Orleans in the first place? After all, the celebration itself, which heralds the start of Lent — the 40 days of fasting, repentance, atonement and all around good behavior observed by Catholics before Easter — dates back thousands of years, and New Orleans is many miles away from New Jersey.
As it happens, the whole thing started with real estate.
Mardis Gras CarnavalIn the late 17th century, King Louis XIV of France dispatched brothers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville (yes, that’s his full name) to explore and sure up France’s claim to the Louisiana territory. After a long journey, the explorers entered the Mississippi River and made landfall at a spot about 60 miles outside of what is now New Orleans on Mardi Gras, on March 3, 1699. They called the spot “Pointe du Mardi Gras,” or Mardi Gras Point. In 1718, the city of New Orleans was established by the French, who brought with them their customs and traditions, including the masquerade balls and lavish dinners with which they celebrated Mardi Gras. In 1837, the first “parade” of masked partiers made their way along the city streets. Within a few years, the annual Mardi Gras carnival grew so famous—and infamous–that some citizens called for a ban on the public celebrations. They didn’t get their way, thank goodness, but Mardi Gras had become nearly synonymous with New Orleans by then. It’s so ingrained in the culture of the city that today, New Orleans is the only city nationwide that has declared Mardi Gras a legal holiday.
Just because you’re not spending this year’s Mardi Gras in the Crescent City doesn’t mean that you have to skip it altogether. There are celebrations taking place across the state, from Sparta to Somerville and everywhere in between. If you’re hosting your own Garden State Carnival, try a few these New Orleans-inspired cocktails made with great New Jersey spirits.


sazerac cocktail on dark wooden background

Garden State Sazerac

1 sugar cube
Water
3 oz. R.J. Hodges Kentucky Straight Bourbon or Cooper River Distillery Silver Fox Rye
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
½ teaspoon Pernod
Lemon peel, for garnish
In a mixing glass, combine the sugar cube and just enough water to moisten. Crush the sugar with the back of a spoon. Add the bourbon or rye and the bitters.
Next, pour the Pernod into a chilled glass. Swirl the glass around until it coats the interior, then pour out the excess. Add ice cubes and strain the bourbon mixture into the glass. Stir and garnish with lemon peel.


Bloody Mary with Peppers

Jersey-Style Cajun Bloody Mary

1 cup Claremont Vodka from Claremont Distillery
4½ cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4-6 dashes Tabasco sauce
Celery salt
Paprika
Cayenne pepper
Black pepper
Celery stalks and pepperoncini, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until combined. If desired, adjust spices for more or less heat. Rim a rocks glass with celery salt and fill with ice.
Strain the Cajun Bloody Mary into the glass and garnish with a celery stalk and pepperoncini.


Red tropical cocktail. Isolated on white background

Busted Barrel Hurricane

1 ½ oz. Busted Barrel Artisan Dark Rum
1 ½ oz. Busted Barrel Artisan Silver Rum
2 oz. passion fruit juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 tablespoon lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass over ice.


Gin Fizz drink

Great Notch Gin Fizz

2 oz. Great Notch Distillery Dry Gin
¾ oz. simple syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
Club soda
Combine the gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain over ice cubes into a chilled glass.
Top with club soda and enjoy.

Great Notch Ramos Gin Fizz

2 oz. Great Notch Distillery Dry Gin
1 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. heavy cream
1 egg white
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. lime juice
3 dashes orange flower water
Club soda, optional
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker – without ice – and pre-shake for about 10 seconds.
Add several ice cubes to the shaker and shake vigorously until the contents are thick and foamy. Pour the cocktail into a chilled glass and top with club soda, if desired.


Champagne Cocktail

French 75

½ oz. Great Notch Distillery Dry Gin
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. lemon juice
3 oz. Sparkling Rkatsiteli from Tomasello Winery
Lemon peel, for garnish
Combine the gin, simple syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne flute.
Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with a twist of lemon.
Looking to step up your kitchen game? Click Here to see Best of NJ’s Top Recipes & Kitchen Tips!


About the author: Michele Thomas is a professionally curious; she likes to learn stuff. A certified sommelier with 15 years of experience writing about food, wine, education, and the arts, she chronicles her wine escapades as the Bed–Stuy Sommelier (@BedStuySomm) on Instagram and Twitter.


Hero (Top) Feature Image: © CloverCity/Dollar Photo Club
Additional Images (in order) Courtesy:
Carnaval.com/Flickr
Joshua Resnick/Dollar Photo Club
Ally/Dollar Photo Club
karandaev/Dollar Photo Club
blazer76/Dollar Photo Club
Flickr/Gary J. Wood