By DeLane McDuffie
  1. What cocktail is reported to be America's first? Creole pharmacist Antoine Peychaud invented the Sazerac back in the 1830s. A West Indian native who immigrated to New Orleans in 1795, Peychaud's French Quarter pharmacy gained popularity after word spread about his patented ailment concoction. In June 2008, the Louisiana House of Representatives, in a 62-33 vote, declared this mixture of absinthe (or Herbsaint liqueur), rye whiskey, Peychaud's Bitters, lemon, sugar, water, and ice the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans.
  2. What Louisiana dish is made up of multiple birds? The turducken. For the uninitiated, a turducken is essentially a partially deboned turkey stuffed with a deboned duck that's stuffed with a deboned chicken. (Insert: Heavenly chime music). Man, it's hard to smile, salivate, and type this up at the same time. Anyway, each fowl comes with its own layer of Cajun stuffing, thus creating cuisine that can cause carnivorous connoisseurs to cry out and congratulate Creole and Cajun cooks from across the country. Some turduckens can serve about 20 people (or 20 servings for yourself).
  3. Which beloved Mardi Gras food usually has a little plastic baby hidden in it? That would be King Cake. In Europe in the Middle Ages, folks began celebrating the coming of the Three Wise Men, or Kings, bearing gifts for the baby Jesus on the twelfth day after Christmas, hence the name Epiphany or Twelfth Night. The French began a custom of baking cakes in homage to the three kings. From Epiphany to Mardi Gras (the day), King Cake is eaten throughout The Pelican State. It's made of braided Danish pastry and cinnamon, and is often filled with cream cheese and fruit fillings. Almost always adorned in the official colors of Mardi Gras—purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power—a King Cake has a plastic or porcelain baby, representing the baby Jesus, hidden inside. The person who finds the baby in his or her slice has to host the party next year.
  4. Which fiery drink, invented at New Orleans' famed Antoine's Restaurant, was used to mask alcohol during Prohibition? Café Brulot Diabolique, or "Devilishly Burned Coffee," owes its existence to Jules Alciatore. He first brewed this devil's coffee back in the 1890s. This digestif is prepared in an incendiary fashion. The ingredients (brandy, sugar, lemon peel, cloves, and cinnamon sticks) are put into a fireproof bowl and heated over an open flame. After the brandy gets hot, that's when you light the match. Whoosh! Ever seen Backdraft? Then, you finally add the hot coffee to the already flaming brandy. Kids, don't try this at home. Hmmm . . . in that case, adults, don't try this at home. Let a professional bartender prepare it.
  5. Which drink did Louisiana governor Huey Long call his "gift to New York"? A cousin of Gin Fizz, Henry C. Ramos' Ramos Gin Fizz was the talk of the town back when it debuted in 1888. Today, some people believe that it's doomed to be on the endangered cocktails list because of its legendary high degree of mixing difficulty. It's a hard drink to master (but an easy one to drink). A classy, old-school debonair gentleman like Ramos Gin Fizz in these times of short attention spans, quick fixes, and soft drink-energy drink-club drink-sugary drink drinks has to fight for survival. Most Ramos Gin Fizz recipes call for lemon juice, lime juice, dry gin, sugar, cream, milk, egg white (powdered egg white, if you don't want to down a raw egg), and the "hard-to-find" orange flower water (also called orange blossom water). Huey Long was a fan; in fact, on a business trip to New York, he brought along a Crescent City bartender who would whip up a fresh cocktail whenever the governor wanted one. Long introduced the Big Apple to one of the Big Easy's signature cocktails.