New Orleanians love any excuse to throw a party. While Mardi Gras is the granddaddy of all NOLA celebrations, the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival is a close second.
The event, which runs through Sunday, May 1, features an all-star lineup of music legends, including Buddy Guy, Beck, Stevie Wonder, and Snoop Dogg.
But because it’s New Orleans, after all, a big part of the Jazz Fest experience is enjoying a range of delicious foods and drinks, including local delicacies po-boys and boudin balls.
Attendees can even watch top chefs from across Louisiana doing cooking demonstrations on the Food Heritage and Cajun Cabin Stages.
But even if you’re not going to be in town this weekend, you can still enjoy a taste of the festival at home. I suggest streaming Jazz Fest on famed New Orleans radio station WWOZ and fixing a Crescent City cocktail.
If you’re listening in the morning, pair your brunch with the historic creamy eye opener, the Ramos Gin Fizz.
It was Louisiana Gov. Huey Long’s signature tipple and is still a popular order at the Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans.
Another good brunch drink is Brandy Milk Punch, which, naturally, combines brandy with milk as well as vanilla extract and nutmeg.
It’s a wonderfully rich concoction that is the perfect pairing for similarly rich foods like waffles and pancakes. Our recipe comes from legendary Garden District restaurant Commander’s Palace, which first opened back in 1880.
Brandy Milk Punch
Contributed by Commander’s Palace
2 oz Brandy1 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water).5 tsp Pure vanilla extract1.5 oz Cream or almond milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a light dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.
But Commander’s isn’t a gastronomic museum and has changed with the times as different chefs and bartenders have worked there. One example is the institution’s take on the Tequila Mockingbird, which calls for tequila, limoncello and lemon juice. It’s a great drink to fix in the afternoon while the headliners take the stage.
Tequila Mockingbird II
Contributed by Commander’s Palace
2 oz Reposado tequila1 oz Limoncello1 oz Fresh lemon juice2 dashes Angostura Bitters1 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
Fill a Margarita glass with ice and set aside. Add all the ingredients, except the simple syrup, to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and then add the simple syrup. (Add more simple syrup if you like your drink sweeter.) Stir and strain the drink into the chilled glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Another festive drink that is a favorite down in the French Quarter is the classic and citrusy French 75. The recipe can work with either cognac or gin and is topped with bubbly. I particularly like making the gin version on warm, sunny spring days.
No matter which drink you make you can’t go wrong. Just remember to turn up the music!
Contributed by Mimi Burnham, Porchlight Bar
1 oz Gin or cognac.5 oz Fresh lemon juice.5 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)Sparkling wine, chilled
Add all the ingredients, except the sparkling wine, to a shaker and add a few small pieces of ice. Shake and strain into a chilled flute. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon twist.