The History and Flavor of Mardi Gras

Did you participate in Mardi Gras this year? Whether you partied it up in New Orleans or celebrated with a King Cake at your home, you did your part in carrying on the historic festival that is observed in some manner all over the world. Even though this year’s Mardi Gras ended last week, that doesn’t mean that the fun associated with it has to stop. We compiled a few of our favorite Mardi Gras facts, plus a fun cocktail recipe that celebrates a traditional French Quarter drink.

Historical Roots

The term “Mardi Gras” is French for “Fat Tuesday,” referring to a time of eating heavier foods before the fasting of the Lenten season in mid-February through March. Over time, Mardi Gras has become associated with celebration in general, not just of the food variety. Parades, dancing, the wearing of colorful masks and costumes – these have all become part of the Mardi Gras tradition. Many countries and cities celebrate Mardi Gras differently, but the most famous celebration of all takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. The very first recorded Mardi Gras parade took place in New Orleans in 1857, and has since become synonymous with the city.

Traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, gold and white, and are featured in masks, costumes, decorations, and of course, the famous King Cake. A King Cake is a dessert made in honor of the “three kings” who in Christian tradition brought gifts to Christ’s birth. Their celebration, or the “Twelfth Night” ties into Mardi Gras, and King Cakes have become a huge commodity. Many Louisiana bakeries offer King Cakes year round, rich pastries with a tiny plastic baby baked inside. The lucky person who receives the baby in their slice gets to provide the King Cake for the following year’s celebration, whether or not they break their tooth when biting into the plastic baby.

 Drink and Be Merry

The Hurricane is a hugely popular New Orleans drink. Sweet and fruity with a powerful kick towards the end, recreating the Hurricane at home is a great way to savor the flavors of a Cajun Mardi Gras all year round. Below is one way to recreate the famous cocktail, courtesy of Allrecipes.com.

The New Orleans Hurricane

  • ½ cup ice
  • 2 fluid ounces of light rum
  • 2 fluid ounces of passion fruit flavored syrup
  • 1 cup of lemon-lime flavored soda
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 fluid oz. of 151 proof rum

Combine the first five ingredients in a shaker and shake well. Pour the mixture into a tall glass (or a Hurricane glass if you want to be truly authentic), and float the 151 proof rum on top of the drink. Top with a maraschino cherry. Serves one.