Earlier today we released a short documentary featuring a bunch of Cajuns hootin' and hollerin' about New Orleans' daiquiri culture. We explored the places that have made the drink so popular in the city, peaking under the hood at some of the fanciest and diviest locales. One daiquiri enthusiast we didn't get to speak with in the video, however, is Katey Red, one of the Big Easy's best-known bounce musicians. Much like the daiquiri, bounce music is omnipresent in New Orleans. It ricochets out of block parties, jiggles through sweaty bars, and booms from car windows with its hyper sexual, rattling, base-thumping "triggerman" beat. It has been known to cause advanced-level booty shaking all over town, creeping up on even the most conservative of derrieres. While there are numerous bounce artists in town, Katey Red and her best friend Big Freedia are known for revolutionizing the genre by being two of the first rappers to diversify the scene through their identities as transgender females.Katey Red drinking a daiquiri. Photo by Sha Ribeiro.
Katy puts on a physically demanding show. Whether she's ordering a call and response to "pop the pussy" or remarking on big butts, big dicks, and making a room shake their asses to the floor, the energy level her audience expects is hard to maintain on water and caffeine alone. And so it is that the daiquiri is her own delicious version of a performance-enhancing drug.
If New Orleans were a person, its blood alcohol content would never fall below a .20. Bars aren't required to close, you can drink in the street, and daiquiris—the city's unofficial beverage—are sold at drive-throughs to people who like their alcohol served a la Sonic. They can be purchased by the gallon, guzzled on the streets at Mardi Gras parades, chugged at block parties, or slowly sipped on the porch in the pinnacle of summer's heat index.
The daiquiri's beginnings can be traced back to Daiquiri Beach in Santiago, Cuba, where the first recipe was shaken up with modest beginnings: a combination of rum, fresh lime juice, and sugar served over cracked ice at local beaches around 1904. During prohibition, Cuba became a popular American thoroughfare for boozehounds, and it was during this time that the contemporary crushed ice version of the beverage gained notoriety at a place in Havana called Bar La Florida, concocted by a bartender named Constantino Ribalaigua Vert.
Almost a century later Katey sips on Vert's recipe backstage to get ready for an evening of ass popping. "I like daiquiris because they're a slow, mellow tipsy, and they're not that strong. I'm a diva, I don't need to get drunk, especially before my show," she says. But daiquiri drinking isn't just for getting stage-ready. According to Katey, "people take daiquiris on the lake, to the movies, to block parties, to their house when they wanna chill inside, to the club (but you have to throw it out when you get there), and second lines—a jazz dance where people walk the streets and get hyped, and thousands of people in the neighborhood come outside to see the buck jump dance."
Gene's, a Pepto-Bismol pink building located in the Marigny neighborhood, is the city's keynote daiquiri shop, and a place Katey frequents more than anywhere else in New Orleans. Known for hangover inducing, baby-making, mind-eraser flavors like What the Fuck?, ATM (Addicted to Money), Booty Call, and Knees Dirty, the flavor combinations and options are as endless as the bottom of the slush in the machine. Katey Red likes to make daiquiri suicides, mixing flavor combinations like 190 Octane and any kind of "red flavored drink," except for strawberry. Her rule of thumb on flavor combinations is the power of two or more, so long as it tastes good.
For those of us outside the Big Easy city limits, here's a daiquiri recipe from the bartenders at New Orleans' The Saint Bar & Lounge, where they claim that watermelons are in season until November, "thanks to global warming."
Cheers to climate change!