I have a suspicion that an injustice is occurring, and it’s not making me happy considering the outcome. I’m not talking about politics or Oprah’s $72 million Weight Watchers’ windfall. I’m talking about Valentine’s Day overshadowing Mardi Gras this year due to the holidays falling within close proximity to each other. I’d much rather feast on Fat Tuesday than acknowledge a holiday that celebrates notions foreign to my cold, dead heart.
Mardi Gras is like the Super Bowl of parties, and if you’ve ever stepped foot on Bourbon Street, you know you’re required to push the limits of revelry, debauchery and impaired bliss. During my one tango with New Orleans during Mardi Gras, I collected as many stories as I did beads, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget — nor repeat.
But this year, we have stupid cupid crashing our carousal and passing out Red Hots instead of Jell-O shots. Cake with a baby inside is way better than a chalky candy heart that says “Cutie.” I’m sure most of Louisville agrees with me, but can someone tell me why there are three times as many events touting VD-Day than Mardi Gras? Has everyone been shot through the heart, and Cupid’s to blame? That winged creature gives love a bad name.
Unfortunately, I can’t change what’s already been planned — even with a key to the city. Hell, I can’t even get the lights on Broadway to sync, and I’ve been complaining about it for months. But what I can do is highlight the handful of Mardi Gras celebrations a few cool people/organizations have concocted. Whether you choose requited needs over beads is up to you.
FYI: Fat Tuesday is Feb. 9, so all these events happen that day/night — except for the first one — and they’re all free to attend. Thanks to Do502 for help with the listings.
It’s always a fun time when the Billy Goat Strut Revue serenades a party, so expect this Saturday night shindig to encompass all that is Mardi Gras — beads, King Cake, cocktails and old-timey bourbon jazz. The fact that it’s free makes it even better. It’s the closest you’ll get to Bourbon Street in bourbon country.
The party takes the King Cake. Not only is there free food, but you can expect drink specials, giveaways and live music. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., homemade gumbo and jambalaya, two staples of New Orleans cuisine, will be served up until it’s gone. There will be King Cake courtesy of Hi-Five Doughnuts paired with Jim Beam Black, and if your piece comes with a baby inside, you win a swag bag from Jim Beam. Sweet!
Beam’s bourbon ambassador Megan Breier tells me they’re still tweaking the cocktail menu, but it’ll feature twists on New Orleans classics like the Hurricane and the Sazerac. And along with music by DJs Sam Sneed and Brad Hill, Louisville magician Darshwood will make the rounds dazzling you with fancy card tricks and the like. One last point worth mentioning: There will be Fat Tuesday piñatas hanging about, and for $1, you can take a Slugger swing at it for beads, candy and mini Beam bottles. All proceeds go to APRON Inc.
Of course a New Orleans-inspired restaurant will celebrate Mardi Gras with an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil. For $20, you’ll get all the crawfish, corn, potatoes and andouille sausage you can handle, plus live music from 6-10 p.m. Now is your chance to try their delicious beignets, and their cocktail menu has all the Nawlins standards. (P.S.: They’re doing something special just about every night now leading up to Tuesday.)
Our other favorite New Orleans restaurant is Joe’s OK Bayou out on Linn Station Road. Their annual party features beads, beads and more beads, plus discounts on food and drinks. Hurricanes, Gator Bites and Swamp Margaritas will run you $6, Southern Comfort shots for $3, Jell-O shots for $2 and a slice of King Cake for $3. They’re also hosting a best-dressed Mardi Gras contest at 8 p.m. (P.S.: Celebrations actually began Friday.)
While they have no official connection to New Orleans, the BBC in St. Matthews has been celebrating the holiday for years. My friend and IL freelancer Kevin Gibson talked me into attending it back when I first moved here in the early 2000s, and while I drank beer, he stuffed himself with oysters on the half shell, peel-and-eat shrimp and gumbo. They have all of that on Tuesday, as well as $8 Hurricanes and a gumbo-eating contest.
Sometimes, this Old Louisville dive does serve food. On Tuesday, their annual crawfish boil will be up for grabs between the first and second game of Clay Baker Trivia, around 9 p.m. A PBR and a plate of crawfish never tasted better.
This Jeffersonville brewery is getting in on the action by merging their standard Walkabout Pale Ale with the key ingredients found in a Hurricane. The finished product is called the Hurricane Walkabout, and they’ll be tapping it Tuesday night. They say to expect a sweet and tart flavor from the addition of beet sugar, orange juice, pomegranate extract and lime juice. Hmm … It definitely sounds worth a try. The party also features New Orleans fare, King Cake (with prizes for the baby biter), beads, swag and more.
Yes, Captain’s Quarters is open all year long, and its regulars know just how fun it can be during the less popular winter months. Just because you can’t sit outside and stare at the river doesn’t mean their blenders are broken. Case in point — their annual Mardi Gras party, which began on Friday and continues to Tuesday. The special menu features muffuletta, gumbo, jambalaya, blackened redfish, red beans and rice, soft shell crab po’ boy and, of course, King Cake. Check their Facebook page for nightly specials.