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Let them eat cake.

In New Orleans – where we extract ritual from religion and from reverence, find our revelry – everything is sacred and nothing is sacred at all. It’s an attitude that looks on ceremony and asks, why not a celebration instead? Contradiction is woven in and out of the tapestry of our traditions and never more pronounced than during Carnival—an otherwise secular phenomenon derived from our holiest of seasons.

It all starts with Twelfth Night on January 6th— the festive full-stop of Christmas that makes way for the merriment and mischief of Mardi Gras. While “Twelfth Night” is a reference to the twelfth night after Christmas Day, it’s also called Epiphany, Three Kings Day, and to make matters more complicated, January 6th is also called Kings’ Day, and as you might know, is the first day of King Cake season.

And, yes, that’s a lot to keep up with, any way you slice it.

So, what is Twelfth Night and Kings’ Day, and why is it important? We can trace its origins back to pre-Christian Europe in Roman winter celebrations of Saturnalia and traditional Celtic Yule feasts, each with slight variations and interpretations of a central theme—choosing a king.

In one Celtic custom, “Sacred King,” a king was sacrificed so that his anointed blood could fertilize the land and crops. At the urging of clergy, this tradition was renamed “Lord of Misrule” and overhauled into what most closely reflects the traditional Carnival we know and love today—a slightly more festive celebration with demonstrably less bloodshed in favor of wine and dancing…and cake.

Back then, it was a “fancy bread” and every year the village asked every eligible man to pull just one piece. Whoever pulled the piece containing a single gold or silver bean ruled the land as king, however briefly. It’s the sheer novelty of cake as a device to choose a commoner to be king that is both edifying and endearing.

As celebrations, Twelfth Night and Kings’ Day carried on from village to village and throughout Britain, Ireland, Spain, and France—eventually arriving in New Orleans with French settlers who introduced gateau des rois (king cake.) It was a ritual further refined by the Creoles, and in 1870, when Twelfth Night Revelers rolled through the streets, New Orleans ushered in its very first Mardi Gras parade and ball with little to no foresight for what it would become.

There you have it—Twelfth Night & Kings’ Day! Proof positive that after all these years, there’s much more to Mardi Gras than parades. Carnival is an attitude; it’s the joie de vivre that gives you king cake—and the permission to eat it, too.




Events


Two bartenders pouring cocktail creations in front of a display bottle wall at the Sazerac House

“Global Grooves & Spirits” Featuring The World of 375 Park Avenue...

Monday, July 22, 2024
11:00 am - 6:00 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail: Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Monday: Step into a symphony of global flavors taking over Sazerac House. The spirits of the 375 Park Ave. Collection explore the flavors and sounds of Ireland (Dunville), Japan (Kaiyo & Mizu), Scotland (Cutty Sark), Brazil (Novo Fogo), and more. Over four floors these global influences converge, weaving a tapestry of culture and flavor that celebrates the rich diversity of our world.

Bartender pouring a cocktail

Bartenders Society Cocktail Competition

Monday, July 22, 2024
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

For the first time ever – the US finals of The Bartender’s Society Cocktail Competition will be hosted live at Tales of the Cocktail! Sazerac House presents the 2024 edition: “Mixology of the Future” - taking place in the 4th floor, Imperial Cabinet Saloon. Guests will be invited to sample each of the cocktails and cheer on their favorite finalists! Lite bites will be served. Entry is admitted on a first come, first serve basis.

“Brass, Beats & Bourbon” Featuring the Sazerac Portfolio Brands

Tuesday, July 23, 2024
11:00 am - 6:00 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail... Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Tuesday: Which is more iconic? New Orleans music or New Orleans cocktail culture? Today, you don’t have to decide as we meld the two iconically-New Orleans traditions together. Experience classic offerings from the Sazerac Portfolio as the Sazerac House comes alive with the vibrant sounds of New Orleans, setting the perfect backdrop for a day of NOLA-centric experiences! Enjoy the distinctive character of Sazerac Rye, the smooth elegance of Wheatley Vodka, the rich depth of Buffalo Trace, the tropical allure of Myers’s Rum, and the bold flavors of Fireball. These beloved brands will elevate your cocktail experience, perfectly paired with the soulful brass beats filling the air. 

Drew Mayville Master Class: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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As a part of Tales of the Cocktail... Join Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Master Distiller, Drew Mayville, and Archivist, Nick Laracuente, for a rare opportunity to sample the complete Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC). THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT!

Three bottles of Premium Agave Spirits displayed on an oak bar, shown during Tales of the Cocktail at the Sazerac House.

“Rhythms of Agave” Featuring Sazerac Premium Agave Portfolio

Wednesday, July 24, 2024
11:00 am - 6:00 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail... Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Wednesday: Dive into the lively world of agave spirits paired with the electrifying rhythms of Reggaeton. The Sazerac House will transform into a fiesta of flavors and beats, celebrating the rich heritage of agave spirits with a modern twist. This special day will showcase an array of exquisite agave-based cocktails featuring the depth and complexity of premium tequilas and mezcals, including Mango Shotta – Sazerac's newest innovation, a tequila-based shot combining bold mango and spicy jalapeño, perfect for the summer.

Mango Shotta Cocktail Competition

Wednesday, July 24, 2024
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail... We’ve held a nationwide contest, inviting bartenders to show us how they “Paint the Town Mango”. We’re inviting the top five contenders to show up at the Sazerac House for a showdown during Tales of the Cocktail for their chance to be crowned the Top Dog. Attendees are invited to the Imperial Cabinet Saloon to sample each of these spicy and sweet concoctions while enjoying our hosted taco bar. #inourspicyera

DJ and Vinyl Albums

Cocktails & Vinyl featuring “In Our Lifetime” a collaborative Rec...

Thursday, July 25, 2024
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

As a part of Tales of The Cocktail... Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Thursday: Some of our favorite moments in hospitality are when the two crucial captains from local establishments, the bartender and the DJ, are in perfect harmony. Sazerac House proudly hosts the debut of “In Our Lifetime,” a record made in collaboration between Sazerac and Turning Tables. This special event features Geoffrey Wilson playing select songs from his 45 collection and tracks from “In Our Lifetime” alongside a pop-up with San Diego mainstay Part Time Lover. The featured record features 13 songs, each paired with a unique cocktail crafted by 13 influential bartenders. These bespoke creations will be showcased alongside the custom vinyl record, available upon donation to Turning Tables.

“Last Stop Lounge: House Revival” Featuring 375 Park Avenue Spirits

Friday, July 26, 2024
12:30 pm - 3:30 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail: Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Close out your week as strong as you started it - with the infectious beats and classic spirits that define the Last Stop Lounge! Explore the iconic Irish Coffee, perfected by New York’s Dead Rabbit and their global whiskey selection. Keep the house bumping and your heart pumping with Bloody Marys, Corpse Revivers, and the many brunch cocktails you’ve come to love.