It’s not hard to find a drink in New Orleans come Carnival season (or any time, really). But even in the land of go-cups, when the party heads outdoors and the crowds swell, Crescent City bar masters have their own secret to avoiding the lines (and disappointments). The just-released book New Orleans Cocktails shares more than a hundred recipes inspired by the Big Easy’s imbibing traditions, including bartender Chris Hannah’s go-to flask cocktail. “A lot of us bartenders started building drinks in flasks to ensure that no matter where we were, we could enjoy sips of a proper cocktail,” says Hannah, formerly the head bartender at French Quarter favorite Arnaud’s French 75 and now at Jewel of the South.
Hannah took his first try at a pocket concoction about ten years ago when he and a friend were getting ready to see a play at Le Petit Theatre in the Quarter. After trading swigs, Hannah decided his pal’s mix was better, and over time, he tinkered with the details, settling on a bourbon base, a bit of the herbal liqueurs amaro and Strega for a touch of sweetness, and a couple dashes of Peychaud’s bitters. Hannah hadn’t yet landed on a name for his tipple until a few years later during Mardi Gras, at the Krewe De Vieux parade, where musician and New Orleans fixture Dr. John, aka the “Nite Tripper,” reigned. “When his king’s float passed, I pulled out my flask and had a sip,” Hannah says. “I named it right then and there.”