Day 42: Funky Liza
Today, I should be recovering from a busy weekend, the first week of Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Instead, I'm writing this 1,100 miles away from the Crescent City. When I walk outside, I don't hear the sounds of brass, and I don't see the palm trees I'd come to love. This is the reality for so many hospitality workers, many of whom depend on the business brought by this event, just to survive.
Welcome back thirsty readers. It's another day at home, without bars, without restaurants, without the life a lot of us have come to know. The timing of this pandemic couldn't have been worse for the cities which rely on tourist and hospitality-forced industries for their economic well-being. It was particularly hard for New Orleans, the land of jazz, creole cooking, and of course Mardi Gras.
For many, Mardi Gras 2020 was the last hurrah, before cities across America shuttered their doors. There was something special about carnival this year. I myself was in a very sour mood leading up to the festivities. Carnival is always a trying time for the service industry of New Orleans. There's an influx of visitors who come to town with this "there are no rules during Mardi Gras" mentality, making it difficult for some of us to simply do our jobs. Now I'm not complaining about a busy city, which thrives on those precious tourists dollars. I'm simply stating it can be tough, and very exhausting.
No matter how tough things were this year, Mardi Gras day seemed to erase all of that. I worked a private event during the first half of the day, so I was free to explore and people-watch for the rest of this glorious celebration. The streets were so full, and all of New Orleans just exploded with joy. This isn't the "Spring Break" crowd, many visitors and locals tend to loath. This was a crowd full of revelers from all walks of life, coming from around the world for one of the biggest parties on Earth.
Unfortunately, it was the perfect storm. Mardi Gras fell right at the base of the COVID-19 pandemic. This jam-packed gumbo pot of travelers, intimately sharing their personal space with everyone, was like setting off a bomb, but nobody knew it had detonated. We had no idea. Those travelers took the disease with them to every corner of the globe, and within weeks, every bar and restaurant in the city was forced to shut down.
Now I'm not blaming government officials for the wide-spread infection which took place in New Orleans after this. I'm also not blaming them for all of the infected who carried the virus home with them. This was at a time when the general consensus was "no big deal. It's just like the flu." Nobody had even tested positive for the virus in the entire state of Louisiana. Sadly, this was not like the flu. This would change the world as we knew it, possibly forever.
Now, you might be a bit surprised to see me posting a "vodka-drink" today. Like Mardi Gras, we sometimes need to throw our pretentious nature out the window in the name of fun and celebration. Inspired by the song "Funky Liza," made famous by the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, I see this as a "walking drink." I wanted it to feel just as proper in a plastic "go-cup," as it does in the finest collins glass. Today would be a good day to let loose, and capture a bit of that laissez faire.
1.5oz Vodka (With the neutrality of vodka, being brand specific won't make huge difference in flavor, but if you'd like to show New Orleans some love, I'd give local brand Atelier Vie a look, as they make a vodka from sugarcane.)
.5oz Elderflower Liqueur (With several producers out there, I'd still say St Germain is the gold standard.)
.75oz Lemon Juice
4 drops Ube Extract
Shake and strain over fresh ice.
Top with Club soda.
Garnish with mint sprigs, and lemon wheel, creating Mardi Gras colors!
"Everybody get down, funky music all around!" I hope this little insight into my world was an escape for you. That's all I'm here hoping to provide. I'll catch you all tomorrow, where they'll be another tale, another drink, and hopefully, a bit more hope. Stay home, binge some shows, blast your favorite music, or feel free to do nothing. Just keep calm, and keep shaking.