Mardi Gras Mixer
A season of raucous revelry and all-day drinking, Mardi Gras is nearly synonymous with New Orleans. But before the Big Easy’s bead-tossing, parade-watching, and costume-wearing, there was Mobile, Alabama. French settlers and soldiers in Mobile held the first Carnival celebration in Colonial Louisiana in 1703 (fifteen years before New Orleans was founded). Now billed as the family-friendly counterpart to the Crescent City’s debauchery, the two-and-a-half-week stretch in Mobile is marked by the same beads and king cakes and plenty of parades—minus the Bourbon Street antics.
In the middle of the action sits the Haberdasher, a downtown cocktail bar that sees its fair share of celebrants in the weeks leading up to Lent. For a high-brow tipple that stands up to the festivities, beverage director Roy Clark infuses Mardi Gras history into each element of his Cowbellion Punch. And does it ever pack a punch. It starts with a pair of rums: French, made from cane juice for bright, grassy notes—a nod to those early French settlers—and Caribbean, with molasses sweetness and a finish similar to whiskey. They’re tamed with almond and cinnamon syrups for a play on the ubiquitous Mardi Gras dessert (plastic babies optional).
Just over a hundred years after Mobile’s original Mardi Gras party, the first masked group—called the Cowbellion de Rakin Society—paraded through the town creating a ruckus with cowbells.