When it comes to celebrating Mardi Gras, few establishments have the track record of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Founded in 1893 and helmed by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, this legendary spot is known for its modern-day celebration of classical Creole dishes, from crawfish boils to turtle soup au sherry — all of which require a cold drink, something Brennan and Martin know a thing or two about. Martin and Brennan feature many of their favorite cocktail recipes in their colorful, bar-friendly book, “In the Land of Cocktails: Recipes and Adventures from the Cocktail Chicks,” as well as on the restaurant’s menu. The three spirited cocktails below are Commander’s Palace favorites, and are specifically designed to enjoy during Mardi Gras, whether you’re making it to New Orleans or not.

Whoa, Nellie!

woah nellie is a great Mardi Gras cocktail

On Mardi Gras 2006, Ted Haigh, a.k.a. “Doc Cocktail” was charged with the responsibility of creating a new drink, for which he started rummaging through Lally’s liquor cabinet. After some failures, divine inspiration intervened and when he took a sip, he knew he had hit a home run and said, “Whoa, Nellie!” Needless to say, that’s how this cocktail was named.

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  • 1 ¼ ounces Sazerac rye or other rye
  • 3/4 ounce dark rum, such as Myers’s
  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • ½ ounce grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup


  1. Fill a Martini glass with ice and set aside to chill.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Discard the ice from the glass.
  4. Strain the drink into the glass and serve immediately.

Joanie on Da’ Pony

joanie on da pony is a great Mardi Gras cocktail

This revivifying elixir inspired by Commander’s Palace’s co-proprietor Ti Martin is a refreshing blend of gin, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice, and a spritz of the Carnival staple Ojen. It’s just the support you’ll need for Mardi Gras season, especially because Ojen is traditionally consumed on Mardi Gras for good luck.


  • Dash (or spritz to coat the glass) Ojen
  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 1 ounce triple sec
  • Cocktail cherry for garnish


  1. Spritz the chilled Martini glass with the Ojen, or alternatively give the glass a light Ojen wash by putting a dash in the glass, swirling it, and dumping the remainder out to aromatize the glass.
  2. Combine the other ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake until chilled, then strain into the Martini glass, and garnish with a destemmed cherry.

Everything But the Flame

everything but the flame is a great Mardi Gras cocktail

Made famous in New Orleans, Bananas Foster is the city’s signature dessert. This cocktail is a take on that sweet treat with flavors of spiced rum, brown sugar, banana — hold the fire — and served right “up.”


  • 1 1/2 ounces Captain Morgan rum
  • ¾ ounce crème de banana
  • ¾ ounce brown sugar simple syrup
  • ½ ounce Milk Punch (can substitute ¼ ounce milk + ¼ ounce cream)
  • 1 1/5 ounces triple sec


  1. Mix all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker until incorporated, then double-strain into a Martini glass.