Mardi Gras partiers are already descending upon New Orleans with aspirations of getting tanked while avoiding jail time.
For better or worse, an ungodly number of Hurricanes — the rum-soaked, sugar-bombed NOLA staple — will be consumed nationwide on Fat Tuesday. Like a small-town Midwestern girl puking her way down Bourbon Street, the Hurricane is simultaneously sweet and trashy.
But Mardi Gras doesn’t have to mean subjecting your liver to cloying abominations. Instead, hoist one of these upstanding New Orleans classics as interpreted by Twin Cities bartenders.
La Belle Vie’s seasonal Sazerac
In New Orleans, there’s an official “Seal of the Sazerac” awarded to bars that make them properly. “It’s the most aromatic of any cocktail if it’s made right,” said La Belle Vie’s lead barman Adam Gorski. In his rule-breaking fall version, Calvados stands in for rye or cognac and New Orleans-born Peychaud’s bitters is shunned for Angostura’s baking-spice flavors, which play well with the French apple brandy. Added water turns the strong, sharp beast into a gentle, easy sipper served in a wine glass, opening up and capturing its divine nose. Gorski’s spring iteration is coming soon.
Where: 510 Groveland Av., Mpls., 612-874-6440, www.labellevie.us.
Lyn 65’s barrel-aged Vieux Carre
Think of the Vieux Carre as a NOLA-style Manhattan. This post-Prohibition drink is said to have been created in the French Quarters’s Hotel Monteleone and after years of obscurity it has earned a place in the hearts of modern cocktailers. Richfield’s Lyn 65 slings a perfect Vieux Carre, blending sweet and white vermouths in this cognac- and rye-based tipple. Eight weeks in fresh oak barrels softens and marries the spirits and vermouths with Benedictine (a French herbal liqueur) and Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters, while lending a faint tannic bite.
Where: 6439 Lyndale Av. S., Richfield, 612-353-5501, www.lyn65.com.
Rabbit Hole’s Flying Ramos
The Ramos Gin Fizz is a venerable, labor-intensive New Orleans creation requiring a great deal of shaking to emulsify its cream and egg white. “[It] was actually the drink that turned me on to craft cocktails,” said the Rabbit Hole’s chef/cocktail creator Thomas Kim. Kim serves a hybrid that borrows from the classic Aviation, with creme de violette and maraschino liqueur. The latter is added to a house sour cherry vinegar mix that balances the sweeter Old Tom gin in this floral and frothy tipple served in a martini glass.
Where: 920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-236-4526 , www.eatdrinkrabbit.com.
Nightingale’s Milk Punch
Brandy milk punch is a New Orleans brunch tradition seemingly tailored to us dairy- and brandy-loving Upper Midwesterners. Uptown hotspot Nightingale offers weekend brunchers a frothy version made with a milk jam comparable to a thinner sweetened condensed milk. House-made coffee-pecan bitters add a subtle nuttiness to this smooth and soothing day-starter. An orange peel gives an eye-opening citrusy fragrance with every sip.
Where: 2551 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-7060, www.nightingalempls.com.