Get ready for an adventure to discover a dizzying array of carnival drinks drunk around the world. First stop: Venice.
Venice and the Spritz
For Italians (and many others), Venice is the carnival. Every year, for a week, the city is transformed into an extravagant masked ball.
Venice carnival officially began in 1296, when an edict declared the day before the beginning of Lent a public holiday. The inspiration? The ancient Roman Saturnalia and the Greek Dionysian cults, in which slaves were respectively allowed to have fun and stage performances using masks. Thanks to Carnival, the Doges allowed even the most humble classes to celebrate for a few days of the year, in the total anonymity guaranteed by their costumes.
Rio de Janeiro and the Caipirinha
Rio is, without a doubt, the king of all carnivals. But did you know that initially only polkas and waltzes were danced? Samba was only introduced in 1917!
Today, it is this very dance that attracts millions of tourists from all corners of the globe, who come to the city to watch the competition that will decide the best samba school in the Carnival. Elaborate floats, costumes, music and unrestrained dancing: this is what partying in Brazil is all about!
And while you’re watching the parade in the Sambodrome, why not make yourself a nice Caipirinha? Here’s the recipe:
- 50ml Cachaça
- 1/2 lime
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- Cut the lime into small pieces and place it in a glass. Then, add the sugar.
- Muddle the ingredients.
- Pour in the cachaça and add ice (roughly broken up).
- Decorate with a slice of lime.
Tenerife and its Honey Rum
Tenerife’s carnival is the most “Brazilian” in Spain, the second-largest in the world after Rio de Janeiro. Colour and music make the streets of the island come alive in an overwhelming and unrestrained atmosphere, especially in the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Puerto de la Cruz.
The most eagerly awaited moment is the Elección de la Reina, the choosing of the queen of the festival, which takes place on the first Wednesday of the festivities. The candidates show off their most sumptuous and colourful dresses, which can weigh up to 100 kg!
To celebrate the upcoming Carnival Star, enjoy a sweet Ron Miel (honey rum), the most typical drink in Tenerife. One of the least well-known carnival drinks, this is a delicious blend of rum and honey, which you can enjoy straight up, on the rocks or, why not, with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. After all, at Carnival, anything goes!
New Orleans and the Sazerac
Mardi Gras is probably the most anticipated day for all New Orleanians. During the parades organised by the Krewe (a private organisation that prepares the whole Carnival), you can buy garlands, sugared almonds, beaded necklaces, cups and many other trinkets that are thrown from the parade floats. All this is accompanied by live music and dancing. Some call it ‘the greatest free show in the world’.
And do you know what the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans is? The Sazerac, one of the oldest cocktails in the United States. You can find the recipe, based on Rye Whiskey, in this article.
Notting Hill and the Piña Colada
Since 1965, once a year, the London borough of Notting Hill transforms. London’s Caribbean community celebrates its culture and traditions in a festival with live music, parades, floats and traditional street food.
The Afro-Caribbean atmosphere is irresistible to locals and tourists alike, who join in the festivities from morning till night. Not to be missed is the Grand Finale, celebrated on Mondays in Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park and Powis Square.
For refreshment (this Carnival is celebrated in August), cool yourself down with one of the most exotic carnival drinks, the Piña Colada. Here’s the recipe:
- Pour the rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, 1 pineapple slice, lime juice and crushed ice into a blender and blend for 15-20 seconds until frothy.
- Pour into a glass and decorate with a pineapple slice.
Cologne and Beer
We end our trip in Cologne, where the biggest carnival in Germany is celebrated.
In Cologne, Carnival starts as early as November, more precisely on 11 November at 11:11 a.m., to the cry of Kölle Alaaf. During the Christmas period, there is a break from the festivities, which then resume during Rosenmontag, the Monday before Ash Wednesday. The procession starts 11 minutes before 11 a.m. and ends in the late afternoon. Avalanches of flowers and sweets are thrown from the floats, to the delight of young and old alike, who flock to the front row.
Throughout the week, up to Ash Wednesday, women walk around the town kissing strangers and cutting off men’s ties; many morning drinks are consumed in the beer hall; partygoers enjoys the parades of floats; dressing up, and a straw scarecrow called the Nubbel is burnt to atone for all the sins committed during the last few days of the festival.
The whole thing, needless to say, is washed down with rivers and rivers of beer!
Which of these carnival drinks is your favourite? At Drinks&Co you’ll find everything you need to prepare these and many creative and colourful cocktails!
Translated by Chelsea Cummings from Karin Mosca’s original Italian article Cosa bere nelle città del Carnevale.