Mardi Gras is tomorrow, Tuesday, February 13th. And if you’re like me and can’t be in New Orleans to celebrate this last day of festivities and revelry before Lent, you may be looking for a few libation ideas to help you participate from afar. No worries, you came to the right place because I got you covered!
I couldn’t make the party this year, but I could make a beverage! I mean, just because you can’t attend Mardi Gras doesn’t mean you can’t have Mardi Gras cocktails, right?
So I gathered a few friends and we sampled some cocktails and learned about Carnival & Mardi Gras from my very special guest host, Louisiana native, Nathon Tipton. Now, I present you with 4 beverages from the tasting guaranteed to get you in the Mardi Gras spirit!
Mardi Gras Cocktails
First up is the Cajun Screwdriver, the sleeper hit of the tasting! I got the recipe from Louisiana Cookin– a great resource for authentic New Orleans cuisine and beverages.
- 2 ounces Cayenne Vodka*
- 1 ounce vodka
- 2 tablespoons Cilantro Simple Syrup*
- ½ cup fresh satsuma juice (you can substitute tangerine juice)
*recipes at the end of the article
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
- Add all ingredients
- Shake well–at least 10 seconds to get it nice and chilled
- Pour into your favorite cocktail glass and enjoy. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro if you desire
The Spirited Traveler’s Take:
Okay, bear with me on this one. I know is calls for cayenne vodka & cilantro simple syrup, but trust me, it really works in balancing the flavors of this drink. In fact, this was the sleeper hit of the tasting party. When I rattled off the list of ingredients, I got lots of strange looks & grumblings. 🙂 But once they tried it, they were pleasantly surprise. This one, hands down, was the crowd favorite.
Spiced Rum Punch
If you are looking for big batch Mardi Gras cocktails, this is the one for you. I really enjoyed this punch, the spices are reminiscent of Thanksgiving and Christmas which makes it very comforting, as well as, enjoyable. Recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin.
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 4 whole cloves
- 16 ounces pineapple juice
- 8 ounces spiced rum
- 2 (5.5-ounce) cans of peach nectar
- 4 cups club soda
- In a saucepan, bring orange juice, cinnamon, and cloves to a boil
- Remove from heat, and let cool completely
- Strain orange juice mixture into a large pitcher, and discard solids. Add pineapple juice, rum, and peach nectar.
- Refrigerate 2 hours or up to 3 days.
- Add club soda, and serve over ice. Garnish with orange slices, if desired
The Spirited Traveler’s Take:
- I mistakenly added the pineapple juice to the orange juice on the stove and I pronounce it a happy accident. The next day I made a batch the “correct way” and found the spices show through more when they are heated with both the OJ & pineapple juices from the beginning.
- I love the spices so I added more than the original recipe called for. I ended up 4 cinnamon sticks and about 7 cloves per batch. I also let them infuse the juices for a few hours before I removed them.
- I substituted ginger ale in place of the club soda. In fact, I almost never use club soda in any drink I make. If I have to water a concoction down, I’d rather add in flavor during the process. 🙂
Hurricanes & Hand Grenades
It’s just not Mardi Gras without the iconic Hurricane and Hand Grenades. Nathan and I chose to use mixes for these two drinks since they are so readily available. Plus, I wanted to present you all with an “instant” option of sorts, that could be easily prepared with limited prep and there is no need to make any syrups or infusions.
For the hurricanes, we used Pat O’Brien’s mix, which can be found online or in most grocery stores. All you need to do is add rum and enjoy! To make ours extra special we used a Rougaroux Praline Rum (made in Louisiana), and trust me, these were super delicious. Easily the best hurricanes I’ve ever had. And it’s from a mix! So if you try the mix out, take it up a notch by using a flavored rum.
The hand grenades came from the Tropical Isles mix, which can be purchased online. I have to admit, I’ve never enjoyed hand grenades. I find them very strong and oddly flavored, so imagine my surprise when I sipped this and actually loved it! This mix is the bomb and if you need a quick beverage for a crowd, this is a good one to go with. It calls for Everclear, so pace yourself. In fact, you probably only need one of these. 😀
- Take 1 cayenne (or jalapeño) pepper and cut it in half length wise
- Fill a small mason jar with vodka (1-2 cups)
- Add pepper to vodka and let sit a minimum of 2 days
- You can add more peppers if desired, but since this is such a small volume, I’d wait to taste the vodka after it has set for a day to get a gauge on the heat level. You want it hot, but not overwhelming so.
Cilantro Simple Syrup
- 4 sprigs fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup raw cane sugar
- In a small saucepan, add 1 cup water and sugar, and heat over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves
- Add cilantro to sugar mixture and stir to combine
- Let stand 1 hour
- Strain syrup, discarding solids. Let cool before using. (can be refrigerated for up to 1 week)
Enjoy yourself on Fat Tuesday and if you make up a batch of any of the cocktails I featured, drop a comment and let me know how it turned out.