Tuesday, February 21, 2017

File under 'Only in New Orleans:' receiving French feves with Bombay Club Ojen Carnival cocktails

Mardi Gras is only one week away and here’s a new cocktail to enjoy during Carnival festivities, thanks to The Bombay Club. The Ojen Cocktail features Legendre Ojen, a liqueur flavored with anise, and is now the unofficial krewe cocktail for the Rex Organization, and the drink used to toast the King of Carnival on Mardi Gras Day.

But if you’re wondering what the Rex business is all about, here’s a quick explanation. Krewes are organizations that host Carnival balls and parades in New Orleans. The Krewe of Rex is one of the city’s oldest and most prominent (the Mardi Gras colors, doubloons and other traditions date back to Rex) and on Mardi Gras Day, the Rex king toasts the Queen of Carnival at the reviewing stand at the Hotel Intercontinental of New Orleans.

Back to that cocktail – Ojen was first produced in the mid-1800s by a distiller in Spain, but the production of the liqueur ended when the distillery closed in the late 1980’s. The Sazerac Company revived the classic cocktail with a new production here in the United States in early 2016. (Read more here.)

“Ojen had gained popularity in New Orleans at the beginning of the last century, and over time had become the standby cocktail, especially during Carnival season,” said Bombay Club Bar Manager Blake Kaiser in a recent press release. “In fact, some believed that New Orleans’ consumption of Ojen surpassed that of all of Spain, and considering that New Orleanians like a good drink every now and then, I’d believe it.”

Kaiser serves the Ojen Cocktail up with a traditional French feve. Similar to tiny babies found in New Orleans king cakes during Carnival, the fève is a porcelain trinket. Like king cakes, in which the person who nabs the baby must buy the next king cake, the person who finds the feve becomes “king (or queen) for the day” and must provide the next Ojen Cocktail. The Bombay Club feves are musically themed figurines, and a full collection makes up a 10-piece jazz band.

“We just thought this was a fun way to celebrate our favorite holiday in New Orleans,” said Kaiser. “If you get all ten, it’s a great collection, and it’s a unique souvenir by which to remember carnival 2017.”

2 ounces Legendre Ojen
7 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
1/2 ounce Orgeat or Simple Syrup

Method: Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice. Pour Ojen over the ice and add four dashes of Peychaud's bitters, then swizzle. Fill with more crushed ice and top with three more dashes of Peychaud's. Swizzle until the glass frosts.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in South Louisiana who is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

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