When it comes to the Bloody Mary, there are a few elements in the equation: acidity, texture, spiciness, and fixins’. When it comes to each of those areas, every Louisianian will have deeply set opinions on the matter. In search of perfection, we tested variations on each of those themes to come up with a bold yet approachable cocktail that will set just the right mood for your spring brunches.

The Ultimate Bloody Mary
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 16 cups water
  2. 2 pounds vine-ripe tomatoes, cored
  3. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  4. 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  5. 1 cup chopped celery
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced, and divided
  7. 4 cups tomato juice
  8. 2 cups vodka
  9. 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  10. ¼ cup minced celery
  11. 3 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish
  12. 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  13. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  14. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  15. 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  16. 2 tablespoons Steen’s cane syrup
  17. 1 tablespoon liquid crab boil
  18. 1 tablespoon grated sweet onion
  19. 2 teaspoons celery salt
  20. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  21. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  22. Garnishes: Pickled Shrimp, Pickled Okra & Fresh Ancho Peppers, Marinated Olives, and celery
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, make an ice-water bath.
  2. In a large pot, bring 16 cups water to a boil. Add tomatoes, cook for about 2 minutes or until the peel begins to come off. Remove from water, and place in the ice water bath. Let stand; peel tomatoes when cool.
  3. In the same large pot, heat oil over medium high heat; add onion and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes, gently crushing tomatoes with the back of a spoon until juices are released. Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  4. In the container of a blender, add tomato mixture in batches, and process on high until smooth. Cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days.
  5. In a large pitcher, combine reserved tomato mixture, tomato juice, vodka, vinegar, celery, horseradish, anchovy paste, zest and juice, hot sauce, cane syrup, crab boil, onion, salts, and black pepper. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Serve over ice with Pickled Shrimp, Pickled Okra & Fresh Ancho Peppers, Marinated Olives, and celery.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/
Pickled Shrimp
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Steen’s cane vinegar
  2. ½ cup water
  3. 2 tablespoons honey
  4. 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  5. 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. ¼ cup sliced onion
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. ½ pound large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, whisk together vinegar, ½ cup water, honey, mustard, coriander, bay leaves, onion, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil. Add shrimp; cook until pink and firm, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain, and place hot shrimp in a jar. Pour vinegar mixture over shrimp; seal jar. Refrigerate up to 3 days.
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Pickled Okra & Fresh Ancho Peppers
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. ½ pound fresh okra
  2. 5 teaspoons salt, divided
  3. ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
  4. ½ pound fresh ancho peppers
  5. 5 dried red peppers
  6. 4 garlic cloves
  7. 3 cups water
  8. 1½ cups white wine vinegar
  9. 2 teaspoons sugar
  10. 2 tablespoon mixed peppercorns
Instructions
  1. Place okra in a colander. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt, and let stand 15 minutes. Rinse okra thoroughly to remove any residue.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, place okra, onion, peppers, and garlic. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups water and vinegar to a boil over high heat. Add remaining 3 teaspoons salt and sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add peppercorns, stirring well.
  4. Pour hot vinegar mixture over okra. Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Place a plate on top of okra to keep it submerged; refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate up to 5 days.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/
Marinated Olives
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups pitted Castelvetrano olives
  2. ½ cup dill pickle juice
  3. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine olives, pickle juice, and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate up to 5 days.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/

French 75
Serves 12
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
  2. 1 1/2 cups Simple Syrup (see recipe on page, TK)
  3. 3/4 cup gin
  4. 2 cups ice
  5. 1 (750-milliliter) bottle sparkling white wine, chilled
  6. Garnish: peeled lemon zest, cut into long strips
Instructions
  1. In a large cocktail shaker, combine lemon juice, simple syrup, gin, and ice; shake vigorously 20 to 30 seconds. Strain into champagne flutes and top with sparkling wine. Using zester, slice peel from lemon in long, thin pieces. Garnish each glass with lemon twist, and serve immediately.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/

“The moment a chill hits Louisiana air, out come the blankets, firewood, warm spices, and hot toddies. Deep into winter (such as it is in South Louisiana), the heady fragrances of smoke and pine give way to zesty cinnamon and sharper, cleaner wintergreen. The taste for sweet follows suit: dark and sticky becomes lighter, rounded, faintly nutty.

Enter the gorgeous, infused turbinado sugars from La Canne. Creators Tony Bonomolo and Gabriel Senette are “cane-do” guys, blending the comforting flavors of smoked pecan (ginger and lavender, too) into Louisiana cane sugar.

Loving that coziness that comes from hands wrapped around a warm mug, Vincent Heintz, a barman at New Orleans’s Coquette, concocted the Kentucky Slugger, a dreamy drink with a punch— a reminder that winter is not quite over; all its flavors will linger just a bit longer. How sweet.” – Lorin Gaudin

The Kentucky Slugger
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup La Canne Pecan-Smoked Sugar
  2. 5 cups hot water
  3. 6 ounces bourbon, such as Evan Williams
  4. 4 ounces Stroh Jagertee liqueur
  5. 12 to 16 drops allspice dram
  6. Garnishes: smoked sugar, and orange peels
Instructions
  1. In a heatproof measuring cup or bowl, combine sugar, 5 cups hot water, bourbon, liqueur, and allspice dram. Wet rims of 4 serving glasses, and dip in additional smoked sugar, if desired, and serve with 2 orange peels.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/

As one of the Crescent City’s first craft cocktail bars, Cure has done much to further its reputation for excellence in the realm of potent potables. Here, barman Turk Dietrich makes a rich, worldly concoction of dry Spanish sherry, Peruvian grape brandy, and floral aromatic bitters from North Carolina. Jason’s Ascension, 1988 is elegant without being fussy and pairs well with a brisk Louisiana evening.

Jason’s Ascension, 1988
Serves 1
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large farm egg white
  2. ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  3. 1 ounce pisco
  4. 1 ounce La Gitana Manzanilla sherry
  5. ½ ounce grenadine
  6. 14 drops Crude Bitterless Marriage Bitters
  7. Garnish: Crude Bitterless Marriage Bitters
Instructions
  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine egg white and lemon juice; cover, and shake vigorously 5 seconds. Add pisco, sherry, grenadine, bitters, and ice, and shake vigorously 5 seconds. Double strain mixture into a chilled coupe. Garnish with 3 drops of bitters, if desired.
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Vanilla Satsumacello is a Louisiana take on a classic Italian liqueur.

Vanilla Satsumacello
Serves 12
Notes of vanilla add character to this Louisiana take on the classic Italian liqueur.
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Ingredients
  1. 10 satsumas
  2. 1 (750-milliliter) bottle 125-proof vodka, such as Atelier Vie Buck 25
  3. 2 cups water
  4. 1 ½ cups sugar
  5. 1 (2-inch) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
  6. Garnish: satsuma peel
Instructions
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove peel from satsumas, making sure no pith remains. In a large glass container, combine peel and vodka. Cover, and let stand in a cool, dark place for 5 days, shaking mixture daily.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool completely. Add sugar mixture and reserved vanilla bean and seeds to vodka mixture. Seal, and let stand 4 weeks.
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer before serving. Serve well chilled. Garnish with satsuma peel, if desired.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/

This Sparkling Hurricane is a fun and festive take on the original.

Sparkling Hurricane
Serves 8
This Sparkling Hurricane is a fun and festive take on the original.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups passion fruit juice
  2. 4 cups pineapple juice
  3. 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 cup pineapple rum
  5. 1 cup rum
  6. 1 (750 ml) bottle chilled Champagne
  7. Garnish: fresh lemon slices
Instructions
  1. In a large pitcher, combine passion fruit juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and rums. Add Champagne. Serve in chilled glasses. Garnish with fresh lemon slices, if desired.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/

by Sarah Liberta

As the holidays draw near and temperatures drop, we welcome a warm drink to help us feel snug and cozy. Nothing hits the spot better than that iconic blend of eggs, milk, sugar, and spices, fortified, perhaps, with a splash of spirits: hot eggnog.

I’m not talking about the packaged, cloyingly sweet, near-gelatinous stuff in grocery stores. Rather, I’m talking about the luscious, frothy, custardlike beverage made from scratch. Although its exact origin is uncertain, hot eggnog has been a mainstay of winter social life for hundreds of years. It can be served hot or cold, with alcohol or without, in dainty punch cups or in substantial mugs.

Eggs in the nog can be cooked to a safe temperature or incorporated raw. Potential food safety concerns can be alleviated by using pasteurized eggs (available in many grocery stores) or by using a recipe that calls for cooking the eggs, as my mother always did for her hot eggnog.

Vanilla and freshly grated nutmeg are standard spices for any good eggnog, but feel free to experiment with small amounts of other flavorings such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and star anise. Some recipes call for almost as much alcohol as milk or cream. Traditional choices are cognac, brandy, rum, bourbon, or sherry; more modern additions include Grand Marnier (orange), Kahlúa (coffee), and amaretto (almond) liqueurs. Spirits can be added to the entire batch or to individual servings.

Use the finest ingredients you can find, and serve your hot eggnog in grand style when entertaining. Just remember, if you offer it warm, use a tempered-glass punch bowl and cups or mugs that can take the heat.

Mama’s Hot Eggnog
Serves 12
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Ingredients
  1. 2 quarts whole milk
  2. 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
  3. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  4. 12 large eggs, separated (see note)
  5. 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  6. 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  7. ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  8. Bourbon, rum, brandy, amaretto, or other spirits (optional)
  9. Garnish: ground nutmeg
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat milk, vanilla bean and seeds, andsalt over medium heat to 190º. Do not let mixture boil.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with 1 cup sugar on medium-high speed with a mixer for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture becomes pale and has a ribbonlike texture. Slowly pour 2 cups hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, beating on low speed constantly.
  3. Pour egg mixture into pot of hot milk, whisking constantly. Add heavy cream, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until mixture has reached 170º and is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove pan from heat; discard vanilla bean, and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and remaining ¾ cup sugar on high speed with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Pour milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large serving bowl. Carefully fold beaten egg whites and nutmeg into milk mixture.
  5. Ladle into punch cups or mugs. Add spirits to taste, if desired, and garnish with nutmeg.
Notes
  1. TIP: If you prefer cold eggnog, after removing the pan from heat, cool mixture to room temperature before refrigerating, along with unbeaten egg whites, at least three hours or up to overnight. When ready to serve, whip egg whites with sugar, and continue recipe as directed.
  2. NOTE: Substitute 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract for vanilla bean if desired. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to two days; serve cold or gently reheat. According to the USDA, people with health problems, the very young, the elderly, and pregnant women should avoid eating foods containing raw eggs. Pasteurized egg whites can be substituted, if necessary.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/

Sarah Liberta’s company, HERBS by Sarah, provides herbal education, research, and business services. A lifelong educator, Sarah teaches culinary garden classes for Louisiana State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and other programs.

With Mardi Gras reverie all around, the joy of strolling through the French Quarter with a Bourbon Milk Punch is hard to beat. The barkeeps at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House have their own little twist on the classic drink—they serve it as a milkshake. If you can’t make it to the French Quarter, they gave us the recipe so you can whip up a batch at home.

Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch
Serves 10
This delicious Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch is perfect for any special occasion.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups whole milk
  2. 1 cup bourbon
  3. 1/4 cup vanilla extract
  4. 1/4 cup Simple Syrup, recipe below
  5. 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  6. Garnish: grated nutmeg
Instructions
  1. In the container of a blender, combine milk, bourbon, vanilla, Simple Syrup, and ice cream; blend 8 seconds. Pour into glasses, and garnish with grated nutmeg, if desired.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/
Simple Syrup
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1 cup water
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature before using. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 month.
Louisiana Cookin http://www.louisianacookin.com/