March 3: New Orleans And Mardi Gras

mardisgras Every year, the streets of New Orleans are filled with revelers celebrating the Carnival season culminating with Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) on the eve of the 40 days of Lent. New Orleans has actually been tied to Mardi Gras since before it was even officially founded as a city: On March 3, 1699, explorers and brothers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Juan-Baptiste Le Mayne de Bienville made camp 60 miles downriver of modern day New Orleans. As that day was Mardi Gras, the brothers named the spot Point du Mardi Gras. So, today might be the de facto anniversary of the first Mardi Gras celebration in the United States.

Interestingly, the first formal large scale Mardi Gras celebration in the U. S. was held in Mobile, Alabama (then a French colony and the capital of French Louisiana) in 1703. The next year, a masked ball, the Masque de La Mobile, was organized by Mobile’s social elite. Then, in 1711, the first parade was held, the centerpiece of which was 16 men pushing a cart that held a large paper-mache cow’s head.

Anyway, New Orleans was founded in 1718, and in 1723 it was made the capital of Louisiana. The first krewe (the playfully mystic marching clubs who organize Mardi Gras parades) was established in New Orleans in 1856 when six businessmen formed the Mistick Krewe of Comus. Originally intended as a secret society, Comus inspired other krewes to sprout up around New Orleans and soon enough, New Orleans was home to a giant Mardi Gras parade with extravagant floats designed by the krewes. In 1875 Louisiana officially declared Mardis Gra a state holiday; and without fail Mardi Gras celebrations have happened every year since in New Orleans, although the parades were reduced or canceled during World War I and II.

One of the most popular Mardi Gras foods is king cake, a delicious cinnamon roll style cake covered in icing and purple, yellow and green frosting. Sometimes the cake might have a filling, but the one thing that is always included inside a king cake is a small plastic trinket (typically a baby) which is baked inside the cake. Tradition dictates that whoever finds the trinket either has to provide the king cake next year or host next year’s Mardi Gras party. As you’re keenly aware, this isn’t a baking blog it’s a history and cocktails blog, so instead of making king cake, we’re making the next best thing; a King Cake Bevvy. This delicious dessert cocktail comes to us from the New Orleans bar Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House. It’s an ice cream cocktail that tastes a bit like king cake. Let the good times roll!

King Cake Bevvy

  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1 3/4 ounce Rum
  • 1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup
  • 1/4 ounce orgeat syrup
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice

Blend ingredients together and garnish with grated cinnamon bark, tri-color (purple, yellow and green) sugar, and a plastic king cake baby.

Tomorrow: A Cyclops disappears.

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