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21 Mardi Gras Cocktails Too Pretty To Drink — Well, Almost

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is one of those cultural events so well-known that few actually really understand it, beyond the superficial, that is.

Most people are aware that it takes place on the Tuesday before Lent begins, but few of us realize that that Tuesday is actually just the ending of a celebration that’s been going on in ebbs and flows since early January. Likewise, we all know that parade participants wear elaborate masks, but did you know that it’s actually illegal to be on a parade float without wearing one?

And finally, of course, we all know Mardi Gras revelers drink — a lot — but few of us know all that much about the colorful world of Mardi Gras cocktails, a drinking culture just as rich, strange, and varied as the gumbo that is New Orleans itself.

Discover the photos, recipes, histories, and fun facts behind the world of Mardi Gras cocktails below:

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Hurricane

Mardi Gras Cocktails Hurricane

Perhaps the signature drink most representative of both Mardi Gras and New Orleans as a whole, the hurricane is a simple mix of rum, fruit juice, and syrup or grenadine.

The drink's name comes from the fact that it was originally (and still often is) served in glasses shaped like hurricane lamps (see above). Image Source: Instagram

Hurricane (continued)

Hurricane Beads

The hurricane was born when New Orleans tavern owner Pat O'Brien (whose bar still bears his name today) found a way to get rid of unpopular rum by mixing it with fruit juice and giving it away to sailors. Image Source: Flickr

Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz Mardi Gras Cocktails

A classic New Orleans variation on the gin fizz, this cocktail adds orange flower water and egg white to the usual mix of gin, lemon and lime juices, sugar, cream, and soda water.

Largely because of that long ingredients list, the drink's inventor, Henry C. Ramos of New Orleans' Imperial Cabinet Saloon, was said to have 20 bartenders working simultaneously just to make Ramos fizzes, which took 12 minutes to mix per drink. Image Source: Instagram

Don't Rain On My Parade!

Don't Rain On My Parade

A creation of Muriel's (at the heart of the French Quarter on Jackson Square), this cocktail combines cucumber vodka, lemon basil syrup, and balsamic cranberry gastrique. Image Source: Instagram

Pimm's Cup

Pimm's Cup

Although this drink -- made from Pimm's liqueur, lemonade, 7Up, and cucmber -- was born in London, the version you'll find in New Orleans today was popularized by the French Quarter's famed Napoleon House. Image Source: Flickr

Hand Grenade

Hand Grenade Cocktail

Probably the most distinctive (note its container), and certainly the most visibly marketed, of all Mardi Gras cocktails in recent years, this one nevertheless remains something of a mystery.

Since its invention in the Crescent City in the 1980s, its recipe has been kept secret, its licensing restricted to just five bars, and its impostors sought out and fined.

That said, you'll find varying recipes for "New Orleans' Most Powerful Drink" including some extremely potent mixtures of rum, vodka, and gin, along with an as-yet-unknown fruity liqueur. Image Source: Flickr

A Thousand Blue Eyes

A Thousand Blue Eyes

This relatively new addition to the New Orleans cocktail tradition fittingly comes from a relatively new bar: Cure.

The recipe contains gin, vermouth, lemon juice, orange flower water, simple syrup, and bitters. Image Source: Flickr

Arnaud's Special

Arnaud's Special Cocktail

This mixture of scotch, aromatized wine, and orange bitters was invented at New Orleans' famed Arnaud's restaurant in the 1940s and has remained popular to this day. Image Source: Flickr

Frozen Grasshopper

Frozen Grasshopper

Featuring creme de menthe, creme de cacao, and vanilla ice cream, this is yet another refreshing concoction to have unsurprisingly taken hold in the often-sweltering New Orleans climate. Image Source: Instagram

El Diablo

El Diablo Cocktail

New Orleans isn't just famous for inventing plenty of wholly unique drinks, it's also earned a reputation for creating compelling twists on tried-and-true cocktails.

While plenty of cocktails bear the name el diablo (and are largely tequila-based), this drink from Muriel's combines rum, lime, and ginger syrup with a cayenne and sugar rim. Image Source: Instagram

Mississippi Mud Coffee

Mississippi Mud Coffee

While most signature New Orleans cocktails are of a light, refreshing nature, the Mississippi Mud Coffee stands in stark contrast.

This heavy, rich cocktail combines coffee, whiskey, creme de cacao, and cacao simple syrup. Image Source: Instagram

Brandy Milk Punch

Brandy Milk Punch

One other cocktail from the rich and heavy camp, the brandy milk punch is a staple of New Orleans drinking during the holiday season, but certainly carries over through Mardi Gras.

This brunch favorite includes brandy, milk, sugar, ice, and nutmeg. Image Source: Instagram

Cajun Bloody Mary

Cajun Bloody Mary

This unique twist on another brunch staple, the classic bloody mary, adds New Orleans cajun flavor in the form of creole seasoning and pickled green beans or okra. Image Source: Flickr

Irish Spring

Irish Spring Cocktail

Given its refreshing qualities, mint finds its way into a number of cocktails popular in New Orleans, including the Irish spring, made with mint-tea simple syrup, ginger beer, lemon juice, and whiskey. Image Source: Instagram

Absinthe

Absinthe Flame

After a long, controversial ban, absinthe once again became legal in the United States in 2007, and has since gained popularity across the country.

However, given the spirit's extraordinary popularity in France, and New Orleans' French roots, it's no surprise that absinthe has taken especially deep hold in the Crescent City.

While not technically a cocktail, the preparation that goes into making the drink — as shown above, sugar is caramelized on a special spoon before being mixed with the absinthe — earns it a spot on this list. Image Source: Instagram

Green Beast

Green Beast

Like so many New Orleans cocktails, this absinthe-based concoction includes a refreshing blend of cucumber and lime. Image Source: Flickr

French 75

French 75

While not born in New Orleans, the French 75 is another cocktail that has retained a unique popularity there due to its French roots.

Supposedly invented at the famed New York Bar in Paris during World War I, this mixture of gin, champagne, simple syrup, and lemon juice gets its name from the fact that it reportedly kicked as hard as a French 75mm field gun. Image Source: Flickr

Vieux Carre

Vieux Carre

Despite its French name, this one was actually invented in New Orleans at the legendary Carousel Bar during the 1930s.

The recipe combines rye, cognac, vermouth, Bénédictine herbal liqueur, and bitters. Image Source: Flickr

Summer Thyme Blues

Summer Thyme Blues

Another creation of Muriel's, this peerlessly fruity cocktail combines blueberry thyme syrup with lemon juice, bourbon, and violet liqueur. Image Source: Instagram

Honey Child

Honey Child Cocktail

One more from Muriel's, this similarly fruity drink brings together blackberries, basil, black raspberry liqueur, and honeysuckle vodka. Image Source: Instagram

Sazerac

Sazerac

Along with the hurricane, another strong candidate for the signature New Orleans drink, the Sazerac has actually been named the city' official drink by the Louisiana legislature.

Perhaps even more interestingly, this simple blend of cognac, absinthe, and bitters has been described by some as America's oldest cocktail. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

King Cake Cocktail

King Cake Cocktail Leaves

Easily the most singular Mardi Gras mixed drink, the king cake cocktail is actually a group of beverages that all draw their inspiration from the classic Mardi Gras king cake. Image Source: Flickr

King Cake Cocktail (continued)

King Cake Cocktail Multicolored

Like the king cake, its cocktail is a sweet creation topped with green, purple, and gold sugar. The cocktail takes that basic setup and applies it to any number of bases, from a martini to an old fashioned and far beyond... Image Source: Instagram

King Cake Cocktail (continued)

King Cake Cocktail Sprinkles

Many king cake cocktails are sure to include the king cake's most notable feature: the plastic baby baked inside it.

When eating the cake, receiving the slice with the baby is considered good luck. With the cocktail, the baby is, thankfully, placed right on top as a garnish. Image Source: Instagram

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Everything You Need To Know About The Chinese New Year

On Sunday, most of Asia and parts of the Western world began to drape themselves in red to mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year, the world’s longest celebrated festival. Steeped in astrology and traditions, this 15-day event is an aesthetic feast for the senses and a culturally rich celebration. To welcome the Year of the Monkey, here are 21 spectacular photos illustrating the best and most striking aspects of China’s foremost holiday. Kung hei fat choy!

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Chinese New Year Lantern Installation

The date of the Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, varies each year. It can fall between 21st January and February 10th, depending on the first full moon of the lunar calendar. Image Source: Pixabay

Chinese New Year Monkey

Following the 12-year Chinese astrological cycle, on February 7th 2016 the year of the goat will give way to that of the monkey, an animal associated with sharp intellect, energy and charisma, but also mischief and naughty curiosity. Image Source: Flickr/Vhines 2000

Chinese New Year Bangkok Parade Character

The festival is celebrated by a whopping one-fifth of the earth’s population. Image Source: Flickr/Aleksandr Zykov

Chinese New Year Malaysia Penang Temple

Beyond China and its territories, it is also observed in Malaysia (above), the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, South Korea, North Korea, and in Chinatowns around the globe. Image Source: Wikipedia

Chinese New Year London Parade

The largest celebrations outside Asia are found in London (pictured), San Francisco, Paris, Sydney, and New York City, where official events including parades and fireworks are held. Image Source: Flickr/John Pannell

Chinese New Year Chunyun Beijing Station

Chinese people’s cross-country and international travels to reunite with friends and relatives during the event give rise to the world’s largest annual human migration, known as chunyun. It is estimated that a grand 7.4% of the world’s population is on the move during that period. Image Source: Flickr/Charlie Fong

Chinese New Year Red Lanterns

The color red dominates New Year celebrations. It is traditionally thought to represent fire, which in Chinese culture is believed to prevent bad luck. Image Source: Flickr/Nelo Hotsuma

Chinese New Year Red Decorations

Throughout the holiday season, Chinese families adorn their houses with red decorations, including lanterns and chunlian poems printed on red paper strips. Red signs and banners are also used to decorate streets and public places. Image Source: Flickr/Upupa4me

Chinese New Year Red Envelope Exchange

Instead of presents, people exchange red envelopes containing “lucky money”, called hong bao. Those cash gifts may be presented by older family members to children, by bosses to their employees, etc. Image Source: Flickr/Michelle Lee

Red Envelope

The amount of money needs to be even, as an odd sum is considered unlucky. Moreover, it should not be divisible by 4, a number that represents death. Image Source: Flickr/Linh Nguyen

Chinese New Year Beijing Fireworks

As China produces 90% of the world’s fireworks, it is no surprise that the latter play a significant part in the festivities. The Chinese New Year period sees the largest annual usage of fireworks and firecrackers on the planet. Image Source: Flickr/Jon

Chinese New Year Hong Kong Fireworks

The most popular and spectacular display is the firework show held over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. The performance comes to conclude a day traditionally spent by Hong Kongers at the Sha Tin horseracing track. Image Source: Flickr/Michael Elleray

Chinese New Year Lantern Festival

The 15th and last day of the celebration is the lantern festival, on which lanterns are released to light the way for the new year. Image Source: Pixabay

Chinese New Year Evil Spirits

Beyond their aesthetic value, the bright lanterns and fireworks are believed to chase away evil spirits and monsters. Image Source: International Business Times

Nian Dragon

In particular, the festivities are intended to scare away Nian, the man-eating dragon most often portrayed in the parades. Image Source: Pixabay

Chinese New Nian Dragon Parade

According to tradition, the colorful beast comes out of his den on New Year’s Eve but is repelled by the red lights and decorations. Image Source: Pixabay

Chinese New Year Flowers

The two flowers of the New Year – the plum blossom and water narcissus – are also abundantly represented in the festival’s imagery. Image Source: Flickr/Kneth

Chinese New Year Tray Of Togertherness

On this highly family-oriented holiday, an important symbol is the chuen-hop or “tray of togetherness”, a circular tray filled with a variety of sweet treats to share with guests. Image Source: Flickr/Josiah Lau

Chinese New Year Candied Fruit

Candied apples and other fruits are also popular treats during the holiday season. Those sugar-coated skewers are sold at street stalls and temple fairs around the country. Image Source: Wikipedia

Chinese New Year Open House

After cleaning their houses thoroughly, on New Year’s Eve families open their doors and windows to let the new year in on the stroke of midnight. Image Source: Wikipedia

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What We Loved This Week, Jan. 31 – Feb. 6

Vintage celebrity selfies, opulent wigs made of paper, the most astounding eyes in all of nature, the world’s most ingeniously bizarre ads, and cool photos of ’60s mods.

Kennedy Selfie

From left: Ethel, Jacqueline, and John F. Kennedy. Image Source: Vintage Everyday

Celebrity Selfies Taken Long Before The Word Was Even Invented

Astronauts Selfie

Apollo astronauts, early 1970s. Image Source: Vintage Everyday

Sure, the word “selfie” is only about 15 years old, and mobile phones with cameras are only about the same age. But, if you think we haven’t been taking self-portraits for far, far longer than that, you’re dead wrong. And by “we,” I also mean the rich, famous, and powerful. Sure, rock stars and politicians of decades past couldn’t share their selfies on Instagram or Facebook, but that doesn’t mean, with a little digging, you can’t find some truly iconic, vintage self-portraits. See more at Vintage Everyday.

Stevie Nicks Selfie

Stevie Nicks. Image Source: Vintage Everyday

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Photo Of The Day: Why Nazi Chic Is Sweeping Thailand

Thailand Hitler

A sign for the Seven Star clothing shop in Bangkok, Thailand displaying the likeness of Adolf Hitler, dressed as Ronald McDonald. Image Source: Flickr

If the words “Nazi” and “chic” don’t naturally pair together in your mind, that’s understandable, but also a sign that you’ve overlooked a lot of history. For decades now, various subcultures around the globe have co-opted Nazi iconography for assorted reasons.

But while co-opting made some semblance of sense in, say, late 1970s Britain — when punk rockers aimed to shock and offend their parents’ generation, who had lived through World War II — the relatively recent wave of Nazi chic in southeast Asia doesn’t quite compute.

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