A couple weeks back I returned from New Orleans where the party was already ramping up for the big Mardi Gras hurrah that falls on March 4. Though I’m sorry we had to miss the big day, we wouldn’t have lived to tell had we stayed. Experienced as I am, New Orleans is a take-no-prisoners sort of drinking town where open-carry means plastic cups of alcohol out on the street and foot-long daiquiri grenades are an evening de-facto.
You find a lot of terrible drinks down on Bourbon street (and surprisingly little bourbon) but once you get out of the Quarter you step into the wide world of socially acceptable drinking at all hours. For breakfast, a Ramos Fizz; for brunch, a milk punch; and by afternoon you’ve moved on to Sazeracs mixed by the jug.
In Sacramento, though it isn’t explicitly advertised, many bars offer a southern-styled menu fit to satiate the Mardi Grass reveler no matter where they’re from. Sliding onto a stool at Shady Lady, barman Billy Wilkie mixes up a Ramos Fizz that tastes like a push-pop soaked in alcohol, and that’s basically what it is, a delicious mixture of gin, cream, lemon juice, egg white, and orange flower water topped off with a bit of club soda- truly the breakfast of champions.
If you’re curious for a milk punch, that dairy-riddled drink that’s listed alongside chicory coffee on every brunch menu in New Orleans, now’s the time to grab yourself a “Harvey Milk Punch” at The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar. The Rabbit’s liquor-heavy version is made with Galliano, brandy, and rum so you can blame the drink when you get sloppy enough to take your top off at the bar. They may not give you any beads as per Mardi Gras tradition, but if you’re not booked for public indecency, maybe you can get another drink.