Area bars and restaurants celebrate the feast before the fast with Mardi Gras specials.
Mardi Gras falls late this year, which gives you more time to dig out your purple/gold/green clothes crowns and beads. Head to one of these spots in the area for some well-made sips, Big Easy-inspired cuisine and a bit of revelry (or more):
Chef David Guas (a New Orleans native) invites revelers to his third annual “Bayou Gras Block Party” at the restaurant, one block from the 15th Clarendon Alliance Mardi Gras Parade route on March 4. Look for the party tent from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. where Guas will be serving up “muff-a-lottasto,” “peppa-weenies,” king cake, Rappahannock River oysters and more. Wash it all down with “Parade Punch,” “Gator-Aid,” Abita Amber and Mardi Bock. Guests are invited to dress in costume for prizes awarded throughout the evening and the Bayou Bakery Boogie Float IV will be ready to move down the parade route at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in advance on their website from a Bayou Bakery “Krewe” member, or at the event.
The “contemporary Louisiana fish house” is holding its Mardi Gras party Tuesday, March 4 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The $100 all-inclusive “Mardi Graspass” gives you access to all-you-can-eat-and-drink offerings, from boudin balls and buffalo frog legs to charbroiled oysters and crawfish étouffée. Bartenders will be serving up cocktails like the “Category Five,” Cajun Dark & Stormy and the Sazerac, along with specialty beers. A Bourbon tasting with Few Spirits, Makers Mark and Old Forester lends a stiff and spirited slant to the evening. For tickets and more information, visit the website or call 202-408-8848.
Trummer’s On Main
Head out to Clifton, where Stefan Trummer will be mixing up classic cocktails including the Sazerac, hurricane and mint julep. Grab a seat at the striking bar and order Big Easy bites like shrimp Creole, Trummer’s muffaletta, and smoked quail, Andouille stuffing and Anson Mill grits.
Michel Richard’s bistro celebrates its 7th annual Mardi Gras fête with potent potables like the Vieux Carré-esque “Cocktail à la Louisiane,” which mixes Michter’s rye with Vya sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters. Their take on the hurricane comes with St. Germaine and passion fruit. Sip them alongside turtle soup, beef cheeks Creole or jambalaya.
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace / Black Jack
This popular seafood spot celebrates Fat Tuesday with an “Abita Beer Tap Takeover,” frozen hurricanes, Sazeracs, muffalettas and po’ boys from Chef de Cuisine James Huff who has cooked in several of New Orleans’ best restaurants. Check out the website for more info.
A “Mardi Gras Block Party Extravaganza” kicks off at 5 p.m. March 4 at this much-buzzed-about watering hole. Bar hop between the Passenger, Hogo and the Warehouse Theatre for a night of well-made hurricanes and Sazeracs, and enjoy music from D.C.’s own Yamomenem brass jazz band. There is no cover charge, and the music starts at 9 p.m.
If you want to forego the sweet stuff in your glass, mix up a batch of this complex cocktail named for the Big Easy. If you are serving a crowd, add all to a pitcher and leave out ice and cocktail glasses for guests to stir and chill on their own.
Cocktail à la Louisiane
¾ oz. Rye whiskey
¾ oz. Sweet vermouth (Dolin or Carpano Antica work well)
¾ oz. Bénédictine
3-4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2-3 dashes Absinthe
Lemon twist, for garnish
Add all except garnish to a cocktail shaker with ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon twist.
Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter or Instagram @kmagyarics.