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Stocking the Bar: Mardi Gras Brunch Cocktails

Stocking the Bar: Mardi Gras Brunch Cocktails


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The chefs at New Orleans' Cafe Adelaidé and the Swizzle Stick Bar share their tips on what to serve during Mardi Gras.

To celebrate Mardi Gras like they do in the Big Easy, get your friends together for a day-long celebration filled with rich, fried foods and lots of cocktails. To help you stock the bar for the party, we asked Chef Chris Lusk and Bar Chef Lu Brow of New Orleans' Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar what to have on hand.

While Mardi Gras is a time of excess, Bar Chef Lu serves up mostly daytime cocktail classics at the bar, partly because the celebrations begin so early in the day. “No shots,” she says, but “lots of Champagne cocktails, as it’s a time of celebration.”

While she serves up quite a few mimosas and screwdrivers during Mardi Gras, her signature Bloody Mary is by far the crowd favorite. “One person sees another person holding the drink and immediately asks where they got it,” Chef Lusk explains. “Soon everyone is carrying one.” Given its popularity, it’s no surprise that she goes through over 30 gallons of homemade base during the two week celebration.

What to Serve:

Brunch in New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without this cocktail. (Photo courtesy of Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar)

This mimosa recipe calls for the slightly sweet, red-colored blood orange juice, but you can also use plain old OJ, too.

Chef Lu goes through over 30 gallons of her homemade tomato base during Mardi Gras. Make sure to have lots of pickled vegetables on hand for garnishing. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/scaredy_kat)

While this decadent spiked coffee recipe calls for crème de cacao and a coffee liqueur like Kahlua, you might also like this Bailey’s and moonshine-spiked coffee for something quick and easy (and delicious).

The classic vodka and orange juice drink served up in a Collins glass.

Click here to see A New Orleans-Style Brunch.

Click here to see more stocking the bar tips and recipes.


Stocking the Bar: Mardi Gras Brunch Cocktails - Recipes

Jambalaya is a delicious, spicy, main course consisting of rice and practically everything else in the refrigerator! It’s a great way to use favorite meats and veggies (shrimp, peas, carrots, bell peppers). You can start from scratch for a family night, using leftovers is more than acceptable.

Jambalaya is also an economical and easy way to feed a large group—Super Bowl Sunday, Oscar parties, even outdoor fêtes.

But, as a creation of New Orleans, we like it best for Mardi gras.


JAMBALAYA HISTORY

Jambalaya originated in Louisiana. Creole jambalaya, called red jambalaya by the Cajuns to differentiate it from their take—sprang from the French Quarter of New Orleans, the sector originally inhabited by Europeans.

Jambalaya was an adaptation of paella by the Spaniards, most of whom could not afford saffron (an essential paella ingredient) due to high import costs. Tomatoes were substituted to color and flavor the dish.

French Creoles introduced jambalaya to the Cajuns of southern Louisiana, who rarely used tomatoes (it’s swamp country). Instead, they browned the meat for color and smoky flavor and referred to their recipe as brown jambalaya.

The word “jambalaya” is a combination of the Spanish jamón or the French jambon, meaning ham, and another word however, what word that is can be controversial.


While there are different recipes for each dish, both paella and jambalaya incorporate chicken, ham, sausage and seafood.

Since jambalaya could be made economically in big black cast iron pots for crowds*, it became popular for large events, including church suppers, weddings and political rallies.

The recipe evolved to seafood-only versions, meat-only versions, and vegetarian/vegan recipes. One of the benefits of a jambalaya bar is that each person can customize the dish as he/she wishes.

The easiest way to make the rice is to use Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. Alternatively, use plain white rice with cajun seasoning from McCormick, or other brands.

Thanks to Olivia Manning and Zatarain’s for the suggestion!


RECIPE: JAMBALAYA BAR

This recipe makes five dinner-size portions. Multiply it for a larger crowd. Don’t worry about leftovers: leftover Jambalaya is delicious (even cold!).

Ingredients For 5 Servings

Cooked Proteins (Total 1.5 Cups)


Preparation

1. MIX the water and rice mix in a large saucepan until well blended. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender

2. REMOVE from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving and place on a platter or individual serving plates. Bring to the table with the add-ins.

*One of the charms of paella is the crispy rice crust that develops at the bottom of the pan, called soccarat. You can’t get soccorat from cooking in a large kettle. Paella is cooked in a wide, shallow pan with a layer of rice on the bottom. At the end of cooking, the heat is turned up to create the crust. Socorrat derives from the Spanish verb socarrar, to singe.

Beer and Jambalaya are natural companions, but you might like to start the event with a round of one of New Orlean’s signature cocktails, the Sazerac.

Developed in the 1830s, the Sazerac is a New Orleans variation of a cognac or whiskey cocktail, named for the Sazerac de Forge et Fils house of cognac with which it was originally made, plus rye.

As the story goes, the cocktail was first mixed at Antoine Amédée Peychaud’s apothecary on Royal Street. With his own bitters—still called for in the recipe— Peychaud’s bitters, served friends a cognac cocktail made with his own bitters (you can make your own too—here’s more about bitters). It was then popularized at Sazerac Coffee House, a saloon on Exchange Place in the French Quarter.

The primary ingredient in the cocktail was switched from cognac to rye in 1870 and an absinthe rinse added, due to changing tastes the recipe remains so today, but you can go back to the original—or make both recipes to see which you prefer.

It is one of many descendants of the Old Fashioned. The absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters make it unique to New Orleans.

Bartenders of today use rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar:water ratio instead of 1:1) instead of the sugar cube.


Preparation

1. RINSE a chilled old-fashioned (rocks) glass with the absinthe, add crushed ice and set it aside.

2. STIR the remaining ingredients in a shaker over ice and set it aside.

3. DISCARD the ice and any excess absinthe from the prepared glass, and strain the drink into the glass. Garnish and serve. Optionally, you can serve the drink straight up.


12 Tiki Drinks You Have to Make

In 1933, Donn Beach started it all by opening the birthplace of classic tiki cocktails: Don the Beachcomber in Hollywood. Inspired by his travels in the South Pacific, he outfitted his hip joint with a bamboo bar, giant palm fronds, rattan peacock chairs and of course, tropically-inspired tiki bar drinks. Hollywood stars enjoyed swanning about with their classic tiki cocktails in ceramic mugs, fantasizing that they were in Tahiti or Hawaii. The trend was a hit.

Inspired by a visit to the Beachcomber, "Trader" Vic Bergeron opened his own version of the tiki bar in Oakland, eventually named Trader Vic's. The trend spread like wildfire across the nation and flourished for three decades until tiki bars gradually began to decline in popularity.

A couple tiki revivals have occurred, but this much is true: tiki drinks are here to stay in your party repertoire. Stock your bar with the basic ingredients for drinks like the world-famous Mai Tai and the party-perfect Rum Punch, including tiki staples like light and dark rum, lime juice, and pineapple juice.


9 Mardi Gras celebrations in metro Atlanta — and beyond

Mardi Gras celebrations date back for centuries as a cherished day of wild partying, drinking and merriment before the start of Lent (Ash Wednesday). Of course, New Orleans has certainly put its defining mark on Fat Tuesday with traditions like beads, krewes, king cakes and jazz-filled balls. But if you don’t have plans to celebrate in the Big Easy, no worries. There’s still plenty of revelries to be had around Georgia. So, let the zydeco rock and the good times roll with these nine Mardi Gras festivities around the metro — and beyond.

First Annual Alpharetta Mardi Gras Bar Crawl

While it’s not quite Bourbon Street, the Alpharetta City Center has a relaxed open container law, so you can enjoy the experience of roaming from bar to bar with a drink in hand for this Mardi Gras Bar Crawl. For $50 per person, the self-guided crawl includes a drink and bite at each of the six participating restaurants. For example: at Holmes, guests can indulge in house-made boudin sausage while sipping hurricanes whereas Lapper Seafood Market serves up smoked trout croquettes for bar crawlers.

Starting at 3 p.m. Feb. 22. $50. Alpharetta Mardi Gras Bar Crawl. Alpharetta Downtown Square, Alpharetta. Tickets available at eventbrite.com or facebook.com/events/733692567036817.

RELATED VIDEO: Why is Mardi Gras called Fat Tuesday?

Mardi Gras on The Roof

Live music from Trio Jockamo and Will Scruggs will set the mood for this New Orleans-style fête on the rooftop of Ponce City Market. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., children can enjoy face painters, snacks and crafts while parents may find more reasons to relish in classic Louisiana concessions, such as gumbo, hurricanes and hand grenades.

For an additional fee (starting at $20), guests can opt in for the rooftop’s crawfish boil, which will include andouille sausage, muffulettas, king cakes and more. Advance tickets are recommended. The family-friendly crawfish boil begins at 3 p.m. while the adults-only (21+) boil will begin at 7 p.m.

11 a.m.-11 p.m. Feb. 22. $15 admission to Mardi Gras party or $35 per child/ $55 per adult for Crawfish Boil, which includes party admission. The Roof at Ponce City Market. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 770-999-1530, poncecityroof.com.

Recovery Brunch at Nine Mile Station

Head back to Ponce City Market’s rooftop for Sunday brunch at Nine Mile Station. The Big Easy-inspired brass band FunkCake will be onsite performing for brunch-goers. In addition to regular menu items, Nine Mile Station will also serve up specialties such as king cake sticky buns, Gulf oysters and shrimp jambalaya. Reservations are encouraged.

11 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 23. $20 per person deposit required for reservation. Nine Mile Station at The Roof on Ponce. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. Atlanta. 770-999-1532, 9milestation.com.

Mardi Gras Live! 2020 at Live! at the Battery Atlanta

With the declaration that their third annual Mardi Gras party will be their biggest celebration yet, expect to find plenty of fun—beaucoup fun, actually. The 21-and-up event will offer partygoers a souvenir cup, complimentary drink and live music. With the festivities spread across the indoor and outdoor venue, the party also features fortune-tellers and specialty Mardi Gras cocktails. Opt to partake in the VIP experience, where guests can dine on crawfish, fried alligator bites, Cajun empanadas and king cakes. Plus, get there on time for the “mini parade,” which will march through the Battery to kick off the event.

8-11 p.m. Feb. 22. Tickets starting at $20. 825 Battery Ave. SE, Suite 600, Atlanta. 404-965-2511, liveatthebatteryatlanta.com.

Mardi Gras Pop-Up Bars

This month, Atlanta channels the infamous French Quarter bars with a few fun bar overhauls. At Best End Brewery, which turns into a Mardi Gras-themed pop-up restaurant for the month of February (until Feb. 25), guests can chow down on po’boys and throw down on Carnival-inspired cocktails. Plus, the venue will award a Pardi Gras king and queen each night. Similarly, Tapa Tapa, which has hosted Miracle on Monroe (the popular annual Christmas-themed pop-up bar), will also adorn its venue with a festive display of purple, green and gold for their Mardi Gras Midtown bar. Enjoy crafted cocktails like their NOLA Julep Sour, and choose from menu items, such as vegetarian red beans and rice, Cajun charcuterie and beignets.

Through Feb 25. Free entry. Pardi Gras at Best End Brewery, 1036 White St. SW, Atlanta. 470-391-0999, bestendbrewing.com. Through Feb 25. Free entry. Mardi Gras Midtown at Tapa Tapa, 931 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta. 404-481-5226, popup-atl.com.RELATED: More than a dozen ways to celebrate Mardi Gras at metro Atlanta restaurants and bars

Fat Tuesday NOLA vs. ATL at Escobar

Escobar, the tapas restaurant owned by Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz, is bringing the “504” to the “404” with their Mardi Gras celebration. Promoting free entry with RSVP, Escobar patrons can dine on their regular menu along with specials like gumbo, beignets, crawfish étouffée and hurricanes. Get into the spirit with free beads and masks while New Orleans bounce music (a genre of hip-hop and dance made famous in the city) plays throughout the night as the restaurant stays open an extra hour for the celebration.

9 p.m.-2 a.m. Feb 25 -26. Free entry. Fat Tuesday NOLA vs. ATL at Escobar, 327 Peters St. SW, Atlanta. 404-941-7907, escobaratlanta.com. RSVP at eventbrite.com.

Red Sky Tapas

The restaurant invites in jazz band PR3 Project and guest chef Eric Nelson for their Fat Tuesday tapas dinner. While the bar serves New Orleans signatures like Sazeracs and Vieux Carres, dinner menu items will consist of crawfish hush puppies, gumbo, blackened shrimp pasta and Cajan shrimp and grits.


In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, squeeze the juice from half a lime.

Pour the two rums, passion fruit juice or purée, orange juice, simple syrup, and grenadine into the shaker.

Shake well, until the outside of the shaker tin becomes frosty.

Strain into a hurricane glass filled with fresh ice.

Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry. Serve and enjoy.

How to Find or Make Passion Fruit Juice

Passion fruit juice is not one of the most popular juices on the market passion fruit purée or syrup is more common. These can often be found at stores specializing in natural food and international foods, and the syrup may be in a liquor store's mixer section. Frozen passion fruit concentrate or passion fruit nectar are other viable substitutes. You can also make juice or purée from fresh passion fruit, and this makes an excellent hurricane. However, the fruit's season is short, and it can be expensive.

  • To juice passion fruit, cut the fruit in half and scoop the pulp, seeds, and juice into a blender. For 5 to 6 fruits, add about 1/3 cup sugar (adjust to taste as some passion fruit varieties are very tart) and 1 quart of cold water. Blend at low speeds until the juicy seeds break up, and you have a liquid purée. Strain the pulp and broken seeds using a fine-mesh strainer or sieve, pressing out as much juice as you can. Bottle and refrigerate the juice and discard the pulp.

Depending on the kind of passion fruit product you're able to find, you might need to adjust the cocktail with a little more or less simple syrup.

Who Invented the Hurricane Cocktail?

The hurricane cocktail's origin is traced back to the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. Though it's unknown what was in the drink (rum is suspected), it was reportedly served at the Hurricane Bar and named after the hurricane lamp-shaped glasses it was served in. This style continues to be known as a hurricane glass and is the most popular way to serve the drink.

Fast-forward a few years to New Orleans at Pat O'Brien's, where the famous version of the drink was invented. After World War II, brandy, gin, and whiskey supplies were slim, but rum was readily available. With an overstock of rum, the owners of Pat O'Brien's (Benson "Pat" O'Brien and Charlie Cantrell) reportedly asked head bartender Louis Culligan to create a drink that featured rum. Culligan's original hurricane recipe was published in Cabaret (a now-defunct magazine) around 1956. It was incredibly simple: 4 ounces of gold rum with 2 ounces each of lemon juice and Fassionola syrup.

What Is Fassionola Syrup?

Fassionola syrup is a tropical fruit syrup that was reportedly invented in the 1930s by Donn Beach, a founder of America's tiki bars. Like many of his recipes, it was never revealed. The red syrup has since been created—both commercially and in homemade recipes—and is a fruity blend of passion fruit, papaya, strawberry, mango, pineapple, and hibiscus. In modern renditions of the hurricane, Fassionola has been replaced by passion fruit juice, purée, or syrup. At Pat O'Brien's today, the hurricane is made with a premixed syrup and juice blend, which the bar markets and sells for home use. Other bars in New Orleans and beyond stick to the freshly made hurricane, similar to this recipe.

What Is the Best Rum for a Hurricane?

Some hurricanes are made with white rum alone, and Pat O'Brien's has primarily stuck with gold rum. However, the combination of light and dark rums brings balance to the cocktail's sweet-tart fruity array. It's fun to play with the two rums, and each new pairing gives the drink a unique character. Midrange to top-shelf rums are best, and bartenders commonly choose a well-aged Caribbean rum for the dark rum. Spiced rum is an interesting choice as well.

How Strong Is the Hurricane?

Rum varies in strength, and that will affect the alcohol content of the hurricane. When made with two 80-proof rums, it mixes up to about 18 percent ABV (36 proof). While it's neither the strongest nor the lightest drink, the sweet taste makes it go down as easily as fruit punch. A couple of hurricanes can catch up to you.


Mardi Gras Menu Ideas

Pain Perdue
Serves 4-6

Pain Perdue is French for "lost bread".  Lost bread is Louisiana speak for French toast.   Use a crusty French baguette or rolls for this one.  A lovely treat for your Mardi Gras day breakfast.  Serve alongside਎ggs and sausage with Spicy Rémoulade Sauce

4 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk or half and half
2 tsp sugar
8-10 slices French bread or sandwich bread
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp butter

Beat eggs thoroughly. Whisk in sugar, milk and vanilla.  Pour the egg mixture into a shallow glass dish. 

Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium-low and add butter until it melts. 

Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, coating well on both sides.  Drain off excess liquid into the dish.  Do not oversoak the bread slices.

Cook bread until golden brown on first side, turn and brown the other side. 

Serve lost bread right away with butter, syrup and/or powered sugar. 

Mardi Gras Salad
Serves 4-6

This bright salad features the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.  For the salad greens use a mixture of green leaf, spinach and arugula.

4-5 cups salad greens
1 cup finely sliced purple cabbage
1 cup finely sliced yellow bell pepper

Arrange salad greens in a large bowl or platter. Layer cabbage and bell pepper on top. Serve with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup vegetable oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, pepper, salt, garlic and oil until thoroughly combined. Chill until serving.

Quick and Easy Shrimp Creole for a Crowd
Serves 12

If you have the time and the inclination, this speedy Shrimp Creole can be given a flavor boost by poaching the shrimpਊnd adding a generous sprinkling of sliced green onion before serving.  If the mixture is too thick, thin with low-sodium chicken broth

4 (14 1/2-oz.) cans stewed tomatoes with juice
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped celery (about 3 large ribs)
21/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic clove, minced
3 teaspoons hot sauce or to taste
2 teaspoon Creole/Cajun seasoning blend
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes until roughly chopped and still chunky, do not over process.  Alternatively, use a potato masher or to sharp knives to break up the tomatoes. 

Sauté green pepper, onion, and celery in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet, about 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.  Add garlic, and sauté about 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in chopped tomatoes, hot sauce and seasoning blend.

Bring to a boil reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes.   Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper more seasoning blend, if needed.

Stir in shrimp, cover, and simmer 3-5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.  Add parsley and serve over hot white rice.


Mama's Bread Pudding with Fresh Fruit and Nuts
Serves 8 to 10

Use a mixture of soft fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, pears and bananas.  My mom added maraschino cherries, but that's optional.

3 cups milk
3 large eggs
5 to 6 cups stale French, Italian or sandwich bread torn into 1-inch pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, optional
2 cups fresh fruit, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup pecans toasted and chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 350°. Butter an 11" x 7" or 8" x 8" baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, spices and lemon zest.   Add the bread and let sit about 30 minutes to allow bread to absorb liquid.

Stir fruit and nuts (if using) into the bread mixture.  Pour into the prepared baking dish. Set the baking dish in a larger pan and set in oven. Add enough hot water to the larger pan to come half-way up the sides of the baking dish. 

Bake for about 1 hour, or until the bread pudding is set and lightly browned on top.  Serve warm or at room temperature (but never cold)


Whiskey Sauce

1 stick਋utter
1 egg
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 jigger of bourbon or to taste

In a double boiler, cook butter and sugar until completely dissolved. Add egg, beating very quickly so that it won't curdle. When the mixture smoothes add whiskey. 

Cut bread pudding into serving pieces and place in deep dish. Add warm whiskey sauce to the top of the pudding.  Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator.  Briefly warm in microwave before service
  

New Orleans Fried Chicken
Serves 4

This recipe comes close to the fried chickenਊt the famous New Orleans restaurant,  Jacques-Imo's.  Adding chopped pickles to the hot chicken lendsਊ salty, sour tang to the velvety chicken meat.  Using evaporated milk adds richness without the fat of cream.

If cutting up a whole chicken is not your thing, use an equal amount of your favorite parts

1 1/2 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dill pickles, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil to 350º. In a bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, water and egg and season generously with salt and pepper.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dip each piece in the milk mixture and then in the flour. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, turning often, until golden and cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Lower the heat so that the chicken doesn't brown too quickly.  Transfer the chicken to a rack to drain, then arrange the pieces on a platter, sprinkle with the pickles and parsley and serve.

Grillades
Serves 10-12

Here is a comforting and warming but lesser known dish in the New Orleans culinary repertoire.  The whole dish is often referred to as "grillades and grits" because it is traditionally served over hot buttery grits.  Try it, I know you'll love it.  Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Try with Creamy Cheesy Garlic Grits. 

Also scrumptious over rice, pasta and mashed or baked potatoes.  Taste even better the next day.  Recipe can be cut in half to serve a smaller crowd

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
5 pounds beef round steak, pounded thin and cut into 3" squares
Vegetable oil as needed
4 tbsp. flour
2 medium onions, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, small dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 (14.5 oz) can tomatoes
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp. tomato paste
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Hot pepper sauce

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, quickly brown beef, removing to a plate when done. 

Add additional oil to the pan to equal 4 tablespoons.  Add flour and make a medium dark roux LINK.  Add onions and peppers, sauté until onions are translucent.

Stir in garlic, thyme, bay leaf, chicken stock and tomatoes and sugar.  Add browned round steak and any accumulated juices.  Bring up to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Thoroughly mix in tomato paste and cook covered, until beef is tender, about 45 minutes. 

Check for salt and pepper and add  to taste if needed. Remove bay leaves and stir in fresh parsley  Serve over hot grits and pass the hot sauce.  


10 essential cocktails you can make at home

Negroni cocktail photographed in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 7, 2009.

13 of 15 The Aviation cocktail photographed in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. Eric Luse/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

14 of 15 Ramos Gin Fizz cocktail photographed in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. Eric Luse/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

The Chief asked me to come up with a list of 10 drinks that you absolutely must learn how to make if you want to hold your head high in this world of cocktail mavens. Although it wasn't easy to keep it to 10, I'm pretty pleased with the drinks that we ended up with. I say "we," because the Chief played a role here. And you should be happy that he did. Without him you might have a list of 10 different styles of Manhattans.

If you learn how to make the drinks I've detailed here, your repertoire will be diverse enough to convince anyone that you're a dab hand with a shaker. If you don't learn how to make them, you might find yourself in a spot of bother. I'm planning on turning up on your doorstep sometime next week to test you. Have plenty of ice on hand. And plenty of whiskey, too.

Before we get down to the cocktails, though, perhaps it would be good if I pointed out some fairly straightforward, but often overlooked, facts about making drinks in general.

-- It's best to shake a cocktail over ice for at least 10 seconds, and if you're stirring, double that amount of time. Any less that that and your drink will not be cold enough, and neither will it contain enough water melted from the ice to make the cocktail "gulpable." The water soothes the soul of the spirit in the drink.

-- Serve cold drinks in chilled glasses.

-- Recipes are not written in stone. Unless specific brand names are called for in the case of each and every ingredient, try to look at recipes as guidelines.

A good way to master this is to taste your ingredients individually before you make the drink for the first time. Now follow the recipe precisely, and taste the drink. If it's too "this" or not "that" enough, think back to each ingredient and alter the ratios of the ingredients accordingly. Now you're thinking like a bartender.

-- Don't use those marzipan-flavored, clown-nose-red maraschino cherries. You can buy Luxardo maraschino cherries online if your gourmet food store doesn't carry them, or you can make like the Windmill Lounge in Dallas, Texas, and marinate some frozen cherries in Luxardo maraschino liqueur for a minimum of two days. Either way, if you use one of these, you'll bring your cocktail geek friends to their knees.

-- Make simple syrup by dissolving 1 cup of granulated sugar into 1 cup of warm water. Allow it to cool, and store it in the fridge.

I have one more thing to add, and it's a tidbit of information that all good bartenders know: Making drinks is easy. Don't be intimidated. It's a piece of cake. Honest.

Now, what's not easy is being a bartender: being able to deal with a multitude of people - owners, managers, waitstaff, chefs and guests that can include lawyers, grocers, bikers and experts on just about every subject under the sun - while making drinks, making change, making fancy garnishes and making eyes at the one customer you're hoping will stick around until your shift ends. Don't for a moment think that because you can make drinks you might be a great bartender.

But learning how to make great drinks? It's a cinch.

Inside: The quintessential recipe for 10 cocktail classics, plus wallet-friendly tips on stocking the home bar.

Stocking the liquor cabinet

As Gary Regan was hard at work choosing his 10 must-know cocktails, we wondered: How much would it cost to be fully prepared to show off your bar skills? (Clearly, we'd been Boy Scouts in the distant past.)

To make all 10 of these drinks, special ingredients are required. Some are available in mini-bottles, but the cost might prompt you to become a master of, say, eight out of 10. Unless the Aviation cries out to be your signature drink - or you're not wedded to its original formulation - you might pass on the creme de violette.

Still, you can fully stock a bar, and respectably so, for less than $250. Here's a handy road map, using prices in Bay Area stores (750 ml bottles except as noted). The dashing bar cart costs extra.

Vodka: Don't bother splurging. Locally owned Skyy ($15) or Tito's ($18) from Austin, Texas, are both very good. But Smirnoff ($13) works just fine and leaves you cash for other things. Cost: $13

Gin: How much you enjoy gin will dictate your expense. For cocktail basics, Beefeater ($17) or Broker's ($20) more than suffice. Myself, I'd skip the vodka and splurge a bit on gin: Plymouth, Martin Miller's, Damrak and American stars Bluecoat and 209 all hover around $30. Cost: $17

Whiskey: For cocktail purposes, choose two between bourbon, rye and blended Scotch. If guests are that particular about whiskey, they can bring their own. For Scotch, Famous Grouse ($19) continues to outperform. For bourbon, a value choice is Evan Williams Black Label ($10) up the chain are Elijah Craig 12-Year ($20)and our pick, Buffalo Trace ($21). But rye will make a bigger impression. Try the Rittenhouse 100 Proof ($20) or its 80-proof cousin ($18). Cost: $39 (Famous Grouse and Rittenhouse 100)

Rum: Aged rum seems like the way to go, especially once Dark and Stormy season comes around. Good aged rum isn't cheap, but the Barbancourt 8-year ($26), or even the Haitian brand's 4-year ($20) or White ($19) offer depth and slightly higher proof. Cost: $26

Brandy: Tough choice, because quality shows. Some reliable picks: Hardy VS Cognac ($26), Ferrand Ambre Cognac ($33) and Asbach Uralt ($28) from Germany. Backups include Hennessy VS ($25) and Korbel VSOP ($14). Cost: $26.

Tequila: A proper bar includes a 100 percent agave specimen (marked on the bottle). Yet, affordable choices are tricky to find. Look for Milagro Silver ($25), Cabrito Reposado($20) or Pueblo Viejo Reposado ($25). Cost: $25

Liqueurs and bitters: You could skimp with things like cheap triple sec, in which case your drinks will suck. Instead, choose your needs carefully. Real Cointreau is most economical in the 1-liter size ($42). Other essentials: Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur ($28) and Campari ($24). Buy others in 50 ml sizes as needed they'll stay fresher. A bottle of Angostura bitters ($6) is mandatory. Cost: $72 (Cointreau, Campari, Angostura bitters)

Vermouth: Buy small bottles keep them in the fridge. Noilly Prat (for dry) and Martini & Rossi (for sweet) come in 375 ml sizes ($4). Cost: $8

Equipment: One steel shaker ($6) with pint-size mixing glass ($3). Jigger ($3). Bar spoon ($2). Strainer ($2.50). Cost: $16.50

Total cost: $242.50

Dry Gin Martini

Champagne Cocktail

Old-Fashioned

Champagne Cocktail

Teach yourself to make the best Champagne cocktail on the face of the earth, and once you've fixed it, drink it. Toast your own self for a job well done.

The secret behind this one lies in a scant half-ounce of the very finest Cognac you have on hand. Add this to a traditional Champagne cocktail - a drink that dates back well over 150 years - and you'll know what good drinks are all about. They're about complexity, and they're about simplicity. It's that easy. And it's that intricate.

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 sugar cube soaked with a few drops of Angostura bitters
  • 1/2 ounce Cognac
  • 5 ounces chilled Champagne
  • -- Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions: Pour the ingredients into the order given in a Champagne flute. Add the garnish.

Mai Tai

Now you're going to learn how to make a mai tai, and you can't make a mai tai without orgeat syrup - mainly almonds with a hint of orange flower water. You might not find any in the convenience store on the corner, but it's not too hard to locate in a city like this. The mai tai is akin to the Ramos gin fizz in that the recipe makes it look a little daunting, but in reality it's a piece of cake. The other thing you should know about the mai tai is this: It sounds kitschy, but it tastes oh-so-serious. If you don't have the two rums called for in this recipe, ask at the liquor store for an assertive aged rum and substitute it for the full 2 ounces of rum - you won't go too far wrong.

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 1/2 ounces 10 Cane rum
  • 1/2 ounce Wray & Nephew overproof rum
  • 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 3/4 ounce orgeat syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 mint sprig, for garnish

Instructions: Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full of ice and add all of the ingredients. Shake over ice and strain into a crushed ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Add the garnish.

Negroni

If it takes you longer than 30 seconds to learn how to make a decent Negroni, you might want to think about hiring a real bartender to fix drinks when you have folk over. Repeat after me: Gin. Campari. Sweet vermouth. Equal proportions. On the rocks. Orange-wheel - or orange twist - garnish. Got it?

The incredible aspect of the Negroni that not everyone understands is that it works every time, no matter what brands of gin or sweet vermouth you use. And you can slap my wrist and call me Deborah if it doesn't also work no matter what ratios you use, too. Seriously. Go up on the gin, go up on the Campari, go up on the vermouth. These three ingredients are soul mates, and they support each other no matter how you try to fool them.

And to serve Negronis before dinner is, indeed, a thing of great beauty.

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 1/2 ounces Campari
  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1 orange wheel, or orange twist, for garnish

Instructions: Pour all of the ingredients into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass and sir briefly. Add the garnish.

Manhattan

The Manhattan is in the same ilk as the martini inasmuch as everyone has his or her own favorite way of making them, but some rules hold true for near-as-darn-it everyone when making this one: Use a goodly amount of sweet vermouth, don't spare the bitters and use a good bourbon or straight rye whiskey as your base. (Read my full take the Manhattan at sfgate.com/ZGSK.)

Balance is everything in a Manhattan, and the best way to achieve same is to taste each ingredient - bitters included - before you assemble the drink. Now let the universe take the reins, and just pour till it feels right. I prefer mine on the rocks, and if you do, too, it's best to prepare it exactly the same way you'd prepare a straight up version, then strain it into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice cubes.

Makes 1 drink

  • 2 ounces bourbon or straight rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 Luxardo maraschino cherry, for garnish

Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

Old-Fashioned

You'll need to know how to make a great old-fashioned if you want to impress your boss when you have her over for dinner. And get ready to put your dukes up for this one - many a cocktail geek will tell you that the only fruit that belongs in an old-fashioned is a lemon or orange twist.

Historically, they're right, but make this baby with muddled fruit, and enough Angostura bitters to make a grown man cry, and you'll win this round hands down. The secret is in the bitters. And the cherry. You do remember what I said about the cherries, right?

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 to 5 to 7 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 Luxardo maraschino cherry
  • 1 half-wheel orange
  • 3 ounces bourbon or straight rye whiskey

Instructions: Muddle the sugar, bitters, cherry and orange in an old-fashioned glass. Add ice and the whiskey. Stir briefly, for about five seconds.

Dry Gin Martini

Would you like to know how to make the quintessential dry gin martini? Me too. It's absolutely impossible to begin to tell you how to make this correctly, simply because every martini-drinking man and woman on the face of the earth has his or her own version. Even though mine happens to be the very best dry gin martini that anyone has ever tasted in the known universe, I've yet to find anyone who agrees with me. Go figure.

Here is a recipe that's not even written in soap, let alone stone. Fiddle with ratios. Choose your own gin - Beefeater, Junipero, Plymouth and Tanqueray all work. Pick whichever dry vermouth you like - so long as it's Noilly Prat. And decide for yourself whether it's an olive or a lemon twist that tickles your fancy. Just don't be silly enough to pick the lemon twist. Do try adding a dash or two or orange bitters, though. They were present when the drink was born, circa 1900, and they stayed there for about half a century, so . . .

Some people like to shake their martinis. I'm pretty sure that they have to explain themselves for this when they reach the pearly gates, so I highly recommend that you stir this baby.

Makes 1 drink

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 to 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 olive, for garnish

Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

Ramos Gin Fizz

The Ramos gin fizz is one of God's gifts to the bibulous. It's not as hard to make as everyone seems to think, so this is a great drink to have up your sleeve. You'll impress the snootiest of guests if you can pull this one off, and as long as you don't get intimidated by the ingredients, it's easy.

Henry Ramos, creator of this Fizz, had his own methods of making sure that the drink was prepared correctly: He hired a bevy of bartenders who passed the shaker from one to the next until the drink reached the desired consistency. At the 1915 Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, "35 shaker boys nearly shook their arms off, but still were unable to keep up with the demand," reported author Stanley Clisby Arthur in his book, "Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em."

Guess what you have that Henry Ramos didn't have? A blender, that's what.

The Ramos Gin Fizz is not a frozen drink, so you're using the blender to get the right consistency, not to turn it into a Slurpee. The rule of thumb when making frozen drinks is use as much ice in the blender as it takes to fill the glass, but for a drink like this you'll need just half that much. They make fabulous brunch drinks. Just fabulous.

Makes 2 drinks

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce cream
  • 1 raw egg white
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes orange flower water
  • -- Club soda
  • 2 half-wheels orange, for garnish

Instructions: Combine in a blender everything except for the club soda with enough ice to fill one Champagne flute, and blend until the ice is pureed. Divide the mixture between two Champagne flutes, and top each drink with a splash of club soda. Add the garnishes.

Aviation

First detailed in the nineteen teens, the Aviation has come back into vogue in recent years. When it first captured the attention of cocktailian bartenders, it was impossible to re-create the original, but now, since creme de violette, a liqueur that for a good many years was unavailable in the United States, is back on the scene, we can once again taste the drink as it was meant to be made. And the Aviation is indeed a high-flying cocktail.

I use the Rothman and Winter bottling of creme de violette, though there might be others out there that I haven't yet heard of. Maraschino-wise I'm a fan of the Luxardo brand - it's highly scented and marries very well indeed to a good gin. I like a straightforward, gutsy gin when I make Aviations. There's actually a gin called Aviation, which works well here. Otherwise I suggest you go with Beefeater, Junipero, Plymouth or Tanqueray.

The Aviation is a great drink to serve to people who are fond of telling you "I don't like gin." It tends to go down far better than a slap upside their head as you yell, "Well, it's about time you learned to like it, you . . ."

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce creme de violette
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a shaker. Add ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Daiquiri

The daiquiri is a simple drink, but when it's badly made it's an abomination. Most daiquiris served at bars are frozen and watery, and many of them contain products that taste green rather than like lime, but if you can make a good daiquiri - and you can - your guests will marvel at the frisky romp that takes place in their glasses when sugar, lime juice and a good rum get together to play. The secret is in the balance, and it's also in the rum. Use a good white rum: Appleton makes a sterling example, for instance. If you insist on Bacardi, use Bacardi 8, not its white rum. That's a rule. It's written in stone.

Makes 1 drink

  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 lime wedge, for garnish

Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a shaker. Add ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled wine glass. Add the garnish.

Margarita

The margarita is probably the most important drink to know intimately, since once you can make a margarita you'll also be able to make a sidecar, a kamikaze, even a cosmopolitan. All four of these classics have the same mainframe: three parts liquor, two parts orange-flavored liqueur, and one part fresh lime or lemon juice - with a splash of cranberry juice for the cosmo.

I tend toward Cointreau when I make margaritas, though I've been known to use Grand Marnier on occasion, too, and if that's the case I usually add a little extra lime juice to the drink to help balance the relative sweetness of that liqueur. Tequila-wise I recommend sticking to white Tequila, and try to use 100 percent agave bottlings if you want the pure peppery vegetal qualities of the spirit to shine through.

Makes 1 drink

Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a shaker. Add ice. Shake and strain into a salt-rimmed (optional), chilled cocktail glass.


If you find a deal better than ours, we will pay for you and your party’s Mardi Gras balcony tickets.

Why just watch Carnival when you can get a front row seat to all the action? With our Mardi Gras VIP Bourbon Street Balcony Tickets, you can get a full Mardi Gras experience from your coveted spot on one of our two fabulous balconies overlooking the Carnival craziness on Bourbon St.

Mardi Gras VIP Tickets include:

  • All you can eat New Orleans cuisine buffet
  • All you can drink premium open bar
  • Mardi Gras beads for each guest in your party
  • Private bathrooms
  • Exclusive Balcony use

We offer 3 packages:

Tickets are available for the following days:

  • Friday March 1st
  • Saturday March 2nd
  • Sunday March 3rd
  • Monday March 4th
  • FAT TUESDAY March 5th

We offer the most memorable and enjoyable experience in the city. Our balcony views will blow you away and so will our food! We serve some of the best Cajun and Creole dishes in the city our Jazzy Crab Cake Platter is musical and the Bananas Foster Ice Cream Cake will have you second lining all day long.


Right off the parade route and the St. Charles streetcar line, Igor's is a lively place to visit during Mardi Gras season. Open 24 hours a day, stop by this divey bar to try a stiff Bloody Mary and play a game of pool. They even have a laundromat located inside, so if your Carnival costume gets dirty keep this place in mind.

Looking for an extensive beer selection and some sweet Mardi Gras pups to play with? Come celebrate at this laid back pub and enjoy some barks and brews this Carnival season.


Every Tuesday at participating locations grab one of our signature beef craft burgers with a side of fries or tots for $5 all day long.

That's right - you can indulge on our mouthwatering Bourbon BBQ burger topped with house-made bourbon bbq sauce, white cheddar, cream cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and crispy onion strings or stick with our classic Louie's Choice Cheeseburger for a price that won't break the bank.

Trust us - your tastebuds will thank you.

*Available at participating locations on Tuesdays for dine-in only. Not valid for takeout or delivery.


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