Following right on the heels of the Christmas season–when most people are beginning to experience the post-holiday doldrums–certain parts of the world have one thing in mind: continuing the party.
For most areas, Carnival starts somewhere between January 6th (Twelfth Night or the Feast of Epiphany) and just before Lent, flowing merrily onward for a month or more, culminating in Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (I know a lot of people refer to the entire festival as Mardi Gras, and I suppose these days it’s not entirely wrong to do so, but technically Mardi=Tuesday Gras=Fat or thereabouts, so take what you will from it), the last day of feasting and indulgence before the aforementioned Lent begins with it’s fasting and restrictions.
Regardless of the extent of debauchery that an area’s Carnival parties may or may not have, the prevailing goal is truly to eat, drink, and be merry–since rich meats, fat, and sugar are traditionally prohibited during Lenten observances that follow. In some lower-key celebrations, like Shrovetide, pancake flips are a common party-theme. The celebrations I’m most familiar with, though, include rich seafood dishes, the meat and cheese-filled muffuletta sandwiches, and King cakes decorated in green, gold, and purple (colors symbolizing faith, power, and justice, respectively).
Because Lent is the 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter, and Easter is a movable holiday, the exact date of Fat Tuesday also varies from year to year but usually falls at some point during February. In 2013, Fat Tuesday falls on February 12th.
And, yes, while most people in the United States consider New Orleans the place to be for Mardi Gras, it’s American seat is actually Mobile, Alabama (and their celebrations start in November!). Of course Mobile was originally settled as the capital of French Louisiana, so the state still has ample claim to the tradition.
When it comes to a Carnival cocktail, there are plenty to choose from. Hurricanes, made famous (or, perhaps, infamous) by Pat O’Briens, make a great party punch for this time of year. And then there’s the Absinthe-laced Sazerac, born in New Orleans.
But you know I can do more than just post a cocktail everyone else has already seen, right?
So I set out to concoct something on the savory side, a foil to some of the sugar-laden goodness that the holidays are known for, and kept going back to the muffuletta sandwich. Those savory flavors have formed the basis of today’s cocktail,
The King’s Cup
1 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Galliano
1/4 oz Agwa de Bolivia
1 barspoon Garlic-infused Olive Oil
splash Olive Juice
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass half-full of ice and shake like you’re trying to get a Krewe-members attention. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a spear of 3 olives (or one large olive, preferrably stuffed with blue cheese).
The King’s Cup takes the idea of the dirty martini and turns it on its ear. After all, the muffuletta is just an Italian sub sandwich until you add the amazing olive salad, redolent with garlic. Yes, I’m serious about the garlic-infused olive oil–it’s fabulous to cook with, so you won’t have to worry about it going to waste, the garlic flavor is pronounced but not overpowering and the oil gives the drink a velvety smoothness. The grapefruit juice keeps the gin and herbaceous liqueurs from making the drink overly strong without sweetening it up too much.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!*
And we’re back! Thank you all for your patience while Sips & Shots (and the rest of the Helper Monkey Network) took a much needed break during January. A lot of the work we did was behind-the-scenes, but if you read these posts in a feed reader, you might want to head on over to Sips & Shots and take a gander at the front-of-the-house sprucing-up that has gone on, too! As always, we welcome your feedback and hope you’ll share the posts you like with family and friends.
*(That’s “Let the good times roll” for those who don’t speak Carnival!)