Dive into Catahoula's Incredible "Drunk Tank" Cocktail
At New Orleans' recently opened Catahoula Hotel bar, the cocktails are equal parts playful and extravagant, and they certainly don't skimp on presentation. One of their Pisco Bar's most spectacular cocktails, the Drunk Tank, involves creating ice in the shape of whales to rest upon an icy blue tank, alongside housemade banana gummies shaped like seashells and starfish, with a rum cocktail and coconut cream liqueur to mix and cotton candy as garnish.
Making the Drunk Tank is obviously an involved process, but the payoff is a cocktail that's all the fun of a beachside vacay. We asked Catahoula's Hope Clarke, an Aviary alum and legit professional ice chef, and Bazil Zerinsky, reigning airplane cocktail champ and former CAP, to share the nuts and bolts with us.
You'll begin by making a blue granita that will be used to create a "tank" for the whale popsicles.
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
- 1 ounce blue curaçao
- 1 ounce water
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce allspice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1)
Combine ingredients and freeze them in a shallow pan. Use an ice chipper or chocolate fork to fluff and toss crystals before freezing into vessel.
Next, you'll make popsicles in the shape of whales and other creatures of the sea.
Whale Popsicle Stock (makes 12 popsicles)
- 8 ounces Peychaud's Apertivo
- 4 ounces strained passion fruit purée
- 2 ounces agave syrup
- 8 ounces water
Combine and freeze. Once all of your ingredients are prepped (following the steps below), you'll prop the whale popsicles in the "tank" of blue granita.
Then make the rum cocktail, which will be served beside the tank and poured over the granita.
- 1 1/2 ounces Denizen White Rum
- 3/4 ounces Dolin Blanc Vermouth
- 1/4 ounces falernum
- 1 dash orange flower water
Combine ingredients, stir and strain. Keep the cocktail chilled until serving.
Once you've made the rum cocktail, you'll prep a large batch of coconut cream liqueur — a small portion of which will also be served alongside the drunk tank, to be poured in.
Coconut Kaffir Lime Liqueur
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup lime oleo saccharum
- 8 crumbled kafir lime leaves
- 1/2 ounce allspice liqueur
- 1 1/2 cup black magic rum
- 1 1/2 cup Bacardi 151
Combine ingredients and allow them to sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours, strain them through a colander. Store the liqueur in a glass or neutral plastic container and shake before use.
To take the Drunk Tank in an even more whimsical direction, make cotton candy to be served alongside the tank as a delightful garnish. (Assuming, of course, that you casually have a cotton candy maker on hand.)
Peychaud's Cotton Candy
- 2 cups Peychaud's Aperitivo
- equal weight isomalt crystals
Place the Peychaud's in a saucepan on low and stir constantly. Allow the liqueur to completely reduce until it's dry. It will make a hard, dry sugar. Add an equal amount of isomalt crystals and use a cotton candy spinner to create puffs.
Finally, you'll create banana gummies shaped like starfish and seashells to sit next to the tank for an extra thematic touch.
Banana Bourbon Gummies
- 1 medium bunch of bananas, peeled and crushed
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 cups bourbon
- 1 package liquid pectin
- 1/2 cup key lime juice
- 2 ounces Angostura Bitters
Crush bananas, combine with bourbon and strain through chinois. Add sugar and cook banana mix until sugar turns clear. Add pectin package and cook until thick and viscous (about 45 minutes). Pull 1/2 cup of mix, add a splash of key lime and the Angostura bitters; stir until combined. Use a syringe to put a small amount of red mix in mold. Use the syringe to fill the molds with regular mix, causing a swirl between the two stocks. Allow to sit, covered, at room temp for 24 hours.
To put it all together, place the whale popsicles into the "tank" of granita. Put the rum cocktail and two ounces of the coconut cream liqueur into small creamers and place them on a platter. Arrange the gummies on a small plate, place them on a platter in front of the creamers. Put two puffs of the cotton candy onto sticks, held together in a small vase. Add the tank with the whale-sicles to the platter, with straws in the tank for easy drinking. To consume, pour the rum cocktail and coconut cream liqueur into the tank, and eat the gummies, cotton candy and whale popsicles as you please.
The Drunk Tank goes above and beyond what a normal cocktail experience has to offer. The only trick is figuring out which part to indulge in first.