Celebrate Mardi Gras with a Blood Orange Daiquiri, a rosy spin on the classic New Orleans cocktail. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
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Mardi Gras always makes me think about a trip to New Orleans I took with some college friends a few years back. We had the best time exploring the city and ringing in the new year.
We did everything you’re supposed to do on your first real trip to NOLA — ride the streetcar, eat po’boys and beignets, buy feather boas on Bourbon Street, get our tarot cards read in Franklin Square (yes, really) and sing along to dueling pianos at Patty O’Brien’s.
It was so, so, so much fun.
One thing that stuck out to me about New Orleans was the cocktails. Oh, the cocktails. I tried so many new things on that trip! Hurricanes. Cyclones. Daiquiris.
This trip was also my first experience in a place without an open container law. I mean, how weird is it to ask for a daiquiri in a “go cup?” You can also get a frozen daiquiri at a drive-thru window!
Insane? Dangerous? 100%. But this is a city that really knows what it’s doing when it comes to beverages, so if you skip the touristy joints you can find some amazing bars that do things right.
Let me explain. This was around the time that I got into making cocktails for myself at home. I attended bartending school within a few months of that trip.
In bartending school, one thing that always bothered me was the use of sour mix for everything. Sour mix is the difference between the $6 pitchers at Margarita Monday at the hole-in-the-wall taco place and the $12 single margarita at the frou-frou craft cocktail bar that uses real lime juice.
Using sour mix is like using Kool-Aid in your cocktails in lieu of freshly squeezed juice. In my opinion, storebought juice is WAY better in a pinch than anything concentrated.
Don’t get me wrong — I’ve definitely been known to enjoy a few $6 pitchers from time to time and I get why some bars use sour mix. It’s quick and easy and you can make A LOT of it with just a few scoops of powder.
But these drinks are definitely the shortcuts. As a cocktail enthusiast, my goal here is to teach you how to cut corners without cutting quality when you make any cocktail.
For example: Don’t want to squeeze a thousand limes? Buy fresh lime juice from the grocery store. Concentrate, while not ideal, will do in a pinch! Sometimes I’ll even buy limeade and cut the sweetener from a drink. No shame in your game if you’re making drinks for a crowd!
Also: I’m a huge fan of this citrus squeezer. It’s fantastic and gets the job done SO well. (Hint: Put the lime or lemon wedge fruit-side down for a much better squeeze.)
This Blood Orange Daiquiri is not a shortcut. It’s nothing like the drive-thru frozen daiquiris in New Orleans. This is a ruby spin on the classic Cuban drink that is so loved in the French Quarter. One of Hemingway’s favorites!
Actually, it’s quite simple! To make two, you’ll need some ice, a couple blood oranges, one lime and a bit of rum! That’s seriously it. For equipment, a cocktail shaker and a fine-mesh bar strainer are crucial. Gold-rimmed coupe glasses are optional. (I got mine at Sur La Table a couple years ago.)
Whether or not you celebrate Lent, you’ll love toasting Fat Tuesday with at least one more cocktail!
By the way, my friends Erin and Meghan are also sharing delicious Mardi Gras drinks today! I can’t wait to try the King Cake Martini from The Speckled Palate and the Beignet and Coffee Cocktail Shake from Cake ‘n Knife! They look seriously divine. Recipe for the Blood Orange Daiquiri below! Cheers! // susannah