Mardi Gras is reaching fever pitch this week, and king cakes are everywhere. They’re piled high in grocery stores, neighborhood bakeries, gas stations, and now, they’ve arrived at the bar. New Orleans-based Cocktail & Sons released a limited edition King Cake Syrup that gives cocktail aficionados a taste of our favorite Mardi Gras confection in a cup. The syrup adds a sweet almond and cinnamon flavor to cocktails, but is equally delicious mixed in seltzer or coffee. Bottles are still available at many supermarkets and cocktail specialty stores. We sat down with Cocktail & Sons owners Max Messier and Lauren Myerscough to talk about this festive product and king cake cocktails.
Tell us a little bit about the development of this syrup.
Max: We wanted to do seasonal syrups, but wanted to start with something that had a historical and local flavor to it. I was a history major and Lauren is from Louisiana, so it made a lot of sense to start with king cake. King cakes, you know, are popular during Mardi Gras, but there aren’t a lot of good [king cake flavored] things out there.
Basically, I made this very involved syrup (because everything we do is very complex), and Lauren tried it and thought it tasted like a simple sweet brioche. I had a cinnamon syrup sitting around in my fridge, and I added a little of this and a little of that. There’s some cassia bark—basically cinnamon chips—and lemon oil. What I like about king cake is the bready yeasty finish. It’s like a doughnut where you get big sugar flavors, or like the New Orleans buttermilk drop with the big sweetness. The syrup has a lot of sweetness to it, but it’s also a bit dry.
We’ve had it for sale with preorders since it launched on January 6 and will do that again next year. We were on Poppy Tooker’s show Louisiana Eats, and it’s been crazy. We’ve sold over 100 cases in the last few weeks. The syrup was available to order on our website. Maybe I was naive, but I didn’t think people outside New Orleans would really care about King Cakes. It’s on sale in Oregon, San Francisco, Los Angeles, but there have been online sales to places like Bloomington, Indiana, and DeKalb, Illinois, and Missouri.
What cocktails would you use it in?
Lauren: Abigail Gullo from Compère Lapin is doing a good cocktail. She was on News with a Twist, and she did a Mardi Gras Daiquiri that starts with a little spritz of, I think, Absinthe in the glass, then the King Cake Syrup with rum and lime. She made one for us, and it’s wonderful.
Any other cool ways you could see folks using it?
Max: It’s great with coffee. Lauren uses it in her coffee every day. For cocktails, we have a recipe on the bottle for a punch. We recommend Cathead Pecan Vodka, which helps bring out the pecan notes in the syrup, or you can do a nice rum for a sweeter punch, or wheated bourbon for a more robust punch. We’ve heard about people making tiki drinks.
Where can you get it?
Max: We’ve got a whole list of places to buy our syrups on our website, but you can find the King Cake Syrup at Martin Wine, Dorignacs, Rouse’s, Acquistapace’s in Covington, Pearl Wine, Calandro’s (Government Street and Perkin’s Road locations in Baton Rouge), Bin Q on Perkins Road in Baton Rouge, Robert’s Fresh Market, and the Crescent City Farmer’s Market (every other Saturday). Additionally, it’s on sale in Los Angeles, where we’re doing twice-monthly craft fairs. We also just got into Boston and some shops in Florida and Texas.
Max and Lauren’s next seasonal syrup is a playful take on the classic New Orleans Hurricane. Due on shelves in May, this cocktail syrup that’s packed with mango, hibiscus, pineapple, and Louisiana strawberries will add a whole new dimension to your summer hurricanes and daiquiris.
- 1 ½ ounces bourbon
- ¾ ounce Cocktail & Sons King Cake Syrup
- ¾ ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Garnish: orange peel
- In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients. Add ice, and stir 10 to 20 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass. Twist orange peel over drink, then garnish, if desired.