Top Five Phoenix Food Stories of the Week: Mardi Gras Edition
The Vieux Carré is Perfect for Your Sophisticated Mardi Gras
Photo by JK Grence
New Orleans is a town with a storied past. Most tourists' tales are of rampant debauchery fueled by Pat O' Brien's famous Hurricanes. The problem with those Hurricanes is that they aren't anything like they used to be. These days, they're barely more than Kool-Aid heavily spiked with cheap rum. That said, a visit to New Orleans without at least one Hurricane is like going to Vegas and not putting at least a couple of dollars into a slot machine. So, when you go, hit Pat's first, get your obligatory business out of the way, and then go get a real drink.
An excellent place to go for that drink is the Carousel Bar, inside the Hotel Monteleone. The hotel itself is a landmark, but the bar is one-of-a-kind. It's a circular bar, and it revolves. Yes, at this place, the room spins before you've had a drink. It's a leisurely ride, at all of four revolutions per hour. Still, it's a little strange to get up to use the restroom, and then see your friends on the other side of the bar when you return.
Many moons ago, the head bartender at the bar, Walter Bergeron, crafted the Vieux Carré, which became quite the popular drink. Decades later, as vodka grew more popular, the drink almost went extinct. Until a few years ago, you could ask for one at its birthplace, and only get a puzzled stare in return. Thanks to the vintage cocktail renaissance we're enjoying, you can once more go to the Carousel and have yourself a Vieux Carré.
For much of the country, January 6 is just another day on the calendar. But on the streets of New Orleans and other cities along the Southern coast, the day marks the Twelfth Night after Christmas, the day Mardi Gras season begins. And for those that celebrate the tradition, that means one thing: King Cake.
Although several Valley bakeries will offer King Cake closer to Fat Tuesday (February 12 this year), Barb's Bakery, the family-owned bakery in Central Phoenix in business for over 30 years, is offering four different kinds of King Cake now, at the start of Carnival, and throughout Mardi Gras. Here's how to get a jump on the celebration.