Mardi Gras is in full swing in the Big Easy, with revelers watching parades all over New Orleans and doing all sorts of questionable things in the hopes of acquiring cheap strands of beads and other throws. Another famous Mardi Gras tradition is the King Cake, a ring of twisted sweet bread that tastes like a big cinnamon roll with a hit of almond. Hidden within the cake is a trinket, usually a bean or a small plastic baby meant to represent the baby Jesus nestled inside the praline or cream cheese filling.
King Cakes are a popular gift during Carnival season, and whoever gets the slice with the baby inside is named King or Queen of the day and is expected to provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party. It’s sort of a double-edged sword that way, and you need to eat carefully lest you choke on your “prize.” However, if you notice someone is taking special care to search for the baby when they are cutting their piece, it’s totally appropriate to call them out for being a wuss.
Many New Orleans bakeries make and ship King Cakes all over the world to ex-pats and people who just love Mardi Gras but can’t make it to the City that Care Forgot during the Epiphany. Gambino’s Bakery has been the go-to shipper for years, but there are lots of other places to purchase one, and locals swear that their personal favorite is superior.
Now you can actually drink your King Cake thanks to Taaka Vodka who has released a new flavor which mimics the creamy almond flavor of the pastry. And luckily, like much of the spirits of New Orleans, the stuff is dirt cheap! Available in fifths or a 1.75 liter handle, you can throw your own Mardi Gras party without taking in all the calories of a massive Cinnabon. Well, there are a bunch of calories in alcohol, but we don’t count those here at Drink Music City, do we?
If you’d like to try something a little more sophisticated than just swilling your King Cake vodka straight…well then you obviously have more time than I do. But I understand that some of you amateur mixologists like to show off your talents, so here’s a recipe you can try.
The first step is to dye some granulated sugar in at least one of the traditional colors of Mardi Gras, purple, yellow or green. You can accomplish this with any food color and use it to rim the glass like the tri-color icing of a King Cake. Then mix up this delicious concoction and share liberally with friends:
King Cake Cocktail
Colored granulated sugar
2 oz. Taaka King Cake Vodka
2 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. coconut syrup
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 dashes of almond extract
In a cocktail shaker, mix the vodka, pineapple juice, coconut syrup and lime juice with ice and shake vigorously while listening to a Professor Longhair or Funky Meters song. Don’t stop shaking until the song is over, and even that is optional.
Strain the ingredients over ice into a highball glass rimmed with colored sugar and add the two dashes of almond extract. Top with soda water and repeat as necessary until a desired level of frivolity is achieved.