This Cocktail Syrup Tastes Just Like Mardi Gras

A bottle of cocktail syrup in front of mardi gras decorations.
Packed with the flavors of New Orleans' most iconic cake, this cocktail syrup is perfect for celebrating Mardi Gras (perhaps all year long). (Photo: Courtesy of Cocktail & Sons)

King Cake is perhaps the most iconic edible element of Mardi Gras. This decadent pastry, coated in icing and sprinkled in deep hues of purple, yellow and green is ordered en masse leading up to the festival and eaten throughout. Tucked inconspicuously into the luscious flour folds is a plastic baby, and whomever finds the baby in his or her slice of cake is believed to have good fortune for the remainder of the year.

For true-blue New Orleanians, King Cake is an inescapable tradition — it’s basically a genetically coded craving. Which is why the folks behind Cocktail & Sons, a New Orleans-based cocktail syrup company, felt they had little choice but to craft a syrup that captures this legendary flavor.

Max Messier and his wife Lauren Myerscough co-founded Cocktail & Sons, and from the outset, they made a commitment to create products that represent Louisiana. “We launched our business with an annual commitment to introducing seasonal syrups based on either Louisiana cultural or the seasonal produce of the state, such as strawberries, honey, etc.,” Messier says. “Our King Cake Syrup was our very first seasonal introduction.”

Capturing the essence of King Cake in a cocktail syrup was no easy feat. It required the grueling task of critically tasting the cakes themselves, as well as experimenting with batches of syrup. Although Messier and Myerscough began the project with visions of a complex syrup, the recipe proved to be simple.

“All of our products are ‘complex syrups for simple drinks,’” Messier says. “So, I worked up this elaborate recipe of different spices and extracts in attempting to match the iconic flavor of a King Cake. My wife tried it and basically said, ‘you know, King Cake is just an amazing cinnamon roll with frosting and a plastic baby.’ So we pulled back on the complexity in attempting to match that big cinnamon punch with toasted cassia bark with a kiss of pecan and lemon on the back end of the syrup and a bread-like finish to wrap the whole thing together.”

Fittingly, the bottles of syrup come with a baby figurine attached to the top.

The syrup is, of course perfectly suited to indulge in during Mardi Gras. Messier recommends filling a go-cup with their recipe for Carnival Punch: which is ¾ ounces King Cake Syrup, ¾ ounces lemon juice and 1 ½ to 2 ounces of vodka, rum or bourbon over ice. “It's pretty freakin' impossible not to crush them all day,” he says.

But since the syrup’s first release, it’s also seen creative cocktail applications throughout the U.S. Messier and Myerscough saw their product used in everything from French 75s to sours to Old Fashioneds and tiki cocktails in cities like Denver, Phoenix and New York. Undoubtedly, bartenders nationwide are experimenting with the product yet again this season.

It’s important to note that the syrup is seasonal, and its annual time is rapidly approaching the end. The syrup will only be on sale online through February 21. New Orleans locals can find it at Rouses Market, Martin Wine Cellars, Acquistapace's, Dorignac's and various wine and liquor shops around New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.

If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Messier offers sage advice: “Fill your go-cup with ice and pour to the top with our Carnival Punch. Head out to the parades, lean against the barricades and catch some beads.”

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