Along with interesting flavored MoonPies, and King Cakes, Southern Mardi Gras also comes with it’s signature cocktails. You gotta have something delicious to sip while you’re posing at a party or masked ball. New Orleans has its signature Mardi Gras Drink. It’s the Hurricane Punch that you can order in larger-than-life cocktail glasses all around the city. It’s the signature drink of the famous Patty O’Brien’s bar, where mostly college coeds and twenty-somethings get toasted and hook up.
But Mobile, the birthplace of Mardi Gras, has it’s own signature drink too. It’s a bit more gentile than the Hurricane. It’s an ice cream drink, so it’s meant to be sipped slowly or suffer from inevitable brain freeze. It’s perfectly suited for southern heat and is called the Chrissy. It’s popular at the season’s events like the Order of Myth’s outdoor reception in the DeTonti Square Historic District the Sunday before Mardi Gras. At this event, thrown by the second oldest Mystic Society in Mobile, women dress in oversized Kentucky Derby style hats, embellished with local flowers and baubles, and men in coats and ties. This event, replaced the Society’s Ball, thrown after their large parade about 20 years ago. A large jazz band entertains a crowd eating delicacies like boiled shrimp and oysters served three ways: on the half shell, fire pit roasted, and crispy fried.
The Chrissy actually comes from the bar of Ruth Chris’ steakhouse in Mobile, which is locally owned. The base drink is an off-the-menu drink and basically consists of vanilla ice cream, vodka, and the hazelnut flavored liqueur, Frangelico. It’s served in a tall slender mini version of what looks like a lager glass, probably an old soda fountain glass.
But there are many versions and variations of this drink, based on the Frangelico Float. There’s one called the Chocolate Kiss, which adds equal parts Dark Crème de Cacao to the vodka in a traditional Chrissy. The Mudslide is a variation on the Chrissy. Add amaretto and chopped pecan sugar dusting and it becomes a praline version. Add Godiva chocolate liqueur, rum, and chocolate syrup and it becomes an Almond Joy Chrissy. Add coffee and irish cream liqueurs and it becomes a Russian Quaalude Chrissy. There are ones with crème de banana, crème de menthe, brandy, and other exotic liqueurs like Advocaat. The possibilities seem endless.
The sophistication of the drink certainly coincides with the aura of Mobile’s mardi gras. Theirs, unlike New Orleans’ version, is meant for families and is steeped in tradition. It’s not dirty or racy. There’s no nudity or crude float throws during parades. It’s not meant to impress the visitors, but certainly welcoming to anyone in town to experience their Disneyland experience. Come down, enjoy the parades, and enjoy a refreshing Chrissy!