© Carey Jones

The fine folks of New Orleans don’t really need an excuse to throw a party. But when Mardi Gras rolls around, watch out.

In honor of Mardi Gras, let’s introduce you to three classic cocktails from one of the greatest drinking cities on earth — from the incredibly classy to the easy-drinking. 

Party Central: Hurricane

The Hurricane is one of those drinks with such a long, meandering history that most bartenders wouldn’t even be able to tell you what’s should be in it. So steering away from all those syrup-y, neon-colored versions and going back to the classic: Rum, citrus, and passion fruit. Funky Jamaican rum works perfectly here, with a bonus dark rum float on top.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, pour 2 ounces of Appleton Reserve rum, 1 1/2 ounces of passionfruit juice, 1/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/4 an ounce of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). Add a dash of orange bitters. Shake that all up and strain into a tall glass (or a hurricane glass if you brought one home from your last trip to Ne Orleans). Float 1/4 ounce dark rum on top for a really good time. Garnish with a lemon wheel and then whatever else you want — brandied cherries, straws, umbrellas, Mardi Gras beads…  

All Class: Cognac French 75

Most of us know the French 75 as a gin cocktail, but down in New Orleans, many bartenders prefer Cognac. And we’re all about it — the smooth dark spirit works perfectly with lemon and bubbles.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, pour 1 ounce of cognac, 3/4 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). Shake that all up and strain into a coupe or flute. Top off with 2 ounces of sparkling wine (Champagne is great but not strictly necessary) and garnish with a lemon wheel.

One and Done: Sazerac

We can throw back a few Hurricanes or ‘75s and keep going, but toss back a Sazerac at your own peril. This classic is a stiff and complex drink that’s meant to sip slowly. Also remember that anise-y Peychaud’s bitters are absolutely crucial for a proper Sazerac. Don’t skimp.

Instructions: Take a chilled rocks glass, add 1/4 ounce absinthe, and swirl around the inside of the glass to rinse it; discard the extra. In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of rye (we’re using Redemption Rye) and 1/4 ounce simple syrup. Add 8 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and 3 dashes of Angostura. Stir all that up until well-chilled. Strain into the absinthe-washed glass, without additional ice. Garnish with a lemon peel, spraying its citrus oils all over the drink, then discard the peel.

Related: This Giant King Cake Baby Is the Creepiest Mardi Gras Tradition
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