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Barkus, the original New Orleans Mardi Gras canine parade, was founded in 1992, where all great Carnival institutions are conceived: in a barroom. Biscuit was discovered in an open field out near Lafayette, La., in the days following Hurricane Rita — more than three weeks after Katrina had laid waste to the rest of South Louisiana in the fall of 2005. Major producers and new-wave craft distillers alike have revived forgotten liquors (like rye and aquavit) and rolled out innovative new products, like bourbons finished in sherry casks.
And scratches her belly when the masses are at bay.
It processes sugar from nearly 50,000 acres of sugarcane grown across South Louisiana, with much of that ending up in packets and five-pound bags on your grocery store shelves. Walter Tharp, whose family owns the mill, diverts a portion of that sugar for making rum at a gleaming new distillery and tasting room that opened last spring near the banks of the Mississippi in Downtown Baton Rouge. But everyone is making a fuss over my dog, Luna Biscuit. Many lost and unclaimed animals had to be put down. Biscuit is heterochromatic, meaning that her eyes are different colors. The condition in humans is usually the result of a childhood virus, whilie in canines, it is a rare but natural optical quirk, affecting about one out of every 100,000. The couple makes flavorful, natural syrups, including Honeysuckle & Peppercorns, a Spiced Demerara sugar syrup, and seasonal King Cake, which combines cinnamon, pecan, and lemon with Louisiana sugarcane.
Tharp spent years planning the distillery — the idea of which took root when he attended a wedding held by a sugarcane-growing and rum-distilling family in Central America. ” He initially dismissed the question — “We don’t make candy bars, either,” he remembers thinking — but the idea began to gnaw at him. So after years of obstacle jumping, site scouting and permit applying, he hired distiller Jonny ver Planck and ordered an impressive copper still from Vendome Copper & Brass Works, the nation’s premier fabricator of stills. It took the work of heroes to save the blessed few from their morbid fate. Meredith is one of the “true believers.” A dog rescuer. In 2007, Biscuit came to the attention of the Barkus folks. The idea for the sugar syrups emerged from Messier’s decade-long tenure behind cocktail bars in New York and New Orleans, and the couple’s goal is to allow home bartenders to make drinks at home that could compare favorably with cocktails made at the better craft cocktail bars.
He also studied up on technique and learned the importance of resting and aging his distillate before it goes into the bottles. She had all the qualifications to be Queen: Stray, pretty, docile and willing. Another of their syrups is Fassionola, a revival of a once-popular ingredient essential to the New Orleans-invented Hurricane.
So he bought several 5,000-gallon wooden vats once used by cognac makers in France, had them dismantled and shipped, then flew in four French coopers, who spent five days reassembling them. The theme of the 2007 Barkus parade was “A Street Dog Named Desire.” Biscuit’s name and picture were published in the paper. It’s made from Louisiana sugar and strawberries from Johndales Strawberry Farm in Ponchatoula, and given a deep crimson color with hibiscus flowers.
(He also makes a vodka from sugarcane, and sells a whiskey “imported” by riverboat down the Mississippi). The Barkus parade in New Orleans is getting ready to roll. (I was served an iced tea, sweet.) On parade day, a team of young and sturdy animal shelter volunteers pushed us through the streets of the French Quarter in a rickety wooden float. In 1699, the explorer Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, had named his Plaquemines Parish campsite “Pointe du Mardi Gras,” realizing that, as he and his party were bedding down by the river, that very holiday was taking place in France.After all, it isn’t called the “Cajun Music Capital of the World” for nothing.Cajun music traditionally orbits around a triptych of fiddle, accordion and triangle, with lyrics warbled in Cajun French or, occasionally, their English translation.It’s been the topic of a 2008 PBS documentary, a 2017 New York Times article and photo essay, and certainly plenty of good-natured arguments between Alabamians and Louisianans over the decades.On the Saturday preceding the Courir de Mardi Gras years ago, I found myself winding through an early-morning street party towards the sound of an accordion ringing out bright and tinny from a tiny nearby bar.