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Cocktails sure to put you in the Mardi Gras party mood

A Sazerac at Mr. Friendly’s.
A Sazerac at Mr. Friendly’s. dsellers@thestate.com

A few things are synonymous with Mardi Gras: New Orleans, Bourbon Street, partiers and drinks like the Hurricane and the Sazerac. Both made popular – and adopted – by the Southern city, the Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans (which has a bar by the same name), while the Hurricane is considered one of the city’s happier coincidences, despite Hurricane Katrina.

So, where can you get a good version of these classics in Columbia?

The Sazerac

In the same vein as a Manhattan, the Sazerac is built in an absinthe-rinsed glass with bourbon or rye whiskey, a sugar cube, a few dashes of (Peychaud’s) bitters and a twist of lemon peel.

“It’s a very boozy, stirred drink. Very whiskey-forward, but done well, it has a great balance and goes down dangerously easy,” said Josh Streetman at Motor Supply in the Vista. “I go to New Orleans once a year, and I will have a Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar (in The Roosevelt hotel) when I’m there.”

Where to drink it in Columbia: Motor Supply, Oak Table, Bourbon, Mr. Friendly’s – but since the drink’s ingredients are common to almost every bar, any bartender should be able to stir one up for you without referring to their “Bartending for Dummies” notes.

The Hurricane

If you were in New Orleans, most would direct you to Pat O’Brien’s bar, which has earned a reputation for making a killer Hurricane (if not the first Hurricane drink).

But here in Columbia, one bar has earned a similar reputation for the tropical cocktail, and that’s Yesterdays Restaurant & Tavern in Five Points. Duncan MacRae, one of the owners, said the bar has been making Hurricanes since it opened.

“We’ve always done something for Mardi Gras,” he said. “When we have them on special for Mardi Gras, we sell quite a bit.”

A relative of the daiquiri, the drink is made with rum – typically one part light and one part dark rum, lime juice, orange juice, simple syrup, grenadine and – the special ingredient – passion fruit juice. As legend has it, the drink was conceived when O’Brien’s bar received a large shipment of the somewhat sour fruit and had no idea what to do with it. O’Brien supposedly used rum as the base because he had an excess of that, too.

Yesterdays put its own spin on the Hurricane, using Pama pomegranate liqueur instead of passion fruit juice to make the drink sweeter. Mr. Friendly’s, another Five Points destination for cocktails and cuisine, also plans to celebrate Mardi Gras with its own Hurricane recipe.

Where to drink it in Columbia:Yesterdays year-round and Mr. Friendly’s on Fat Tuesday. Since most bars don’t keep a supply of passion fruit juice on hand, the version from Yesterdays may be the closest you’ll get to the original.