Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mardi Gras party recap

Our annual Mardi Gras party really has nothing to do with bad mansards other than the fact we live in a good mansard neighborhood in a lovely mansard house. Soulard goes into a frenzy for Mardi Gras with a giant, obnoxious street closing parade on the Saturday before Mardi Gras.

According to urban legend, "it's the biggest American Mardi Gras outside of New Orleans;" that may be true, or another of those urban party legends such as "I heard Animal House was based on [insert fraternity name here]" or "Mizzou was such a party school that Playboy listed it as a professional." We have our party the Friday night before the Grande Parade, the same night as the Mayor's Ball and the Preservation Hall Jazz performance at Powell.
This year's party turned out well.

The theme was Busch Bavarian cellar (I tricked out our beer cave in Busch). Bavarian Cellar really wasn't much of a stretch. The German that built this house was Bavarian and likely kept his beer in the cellar. Here's a recap, as much for my party planning purposes for next year as for your amusement.

Invitations: I used electronic invitations this year- very unlike me. I went through Loved it. Helped me keep my numbers straight and will give me a head start for next year. We sent about 120 invitations. That does seem like a lot, but it is Mardi Gras so people wander in and out all night going to other balls and parties. About 130 people came through.

Near misses:
  • Water pressure tanked at 4 pm. Very concerned that we'd have no toilet flow or water. I called the water department and was told that the problem was already being addressed- seems the brewery lost its water pressure too.
  • Door wouldn't open. When the first guests arrived we couldn't let them in.
  • Basement refrigerator was warm, likely attributable to user error.
  • Mimi is still nursing. She and the older 3 kids went to my mother-in-law's house. I forgot to pump until midnight. Ouch.
Help: I hired a coat check girl and a bartender. Money well spent. We put the bar in the first floor spare bed room. We left the beer on the back porch and in the shower on ice.

Liquor: Booze were available in the cellar, playroom and laundry room. We consumed 60 Busch cans, 60 Budweiser's, 40 Bud Selects, 30 Bud Lights and about 30 Schlafly's. Lots of red wine (12 bottles) and almost no white wine (just 2). 4 bottles of bourbon (2 Makers Mark, 2 Jim Beam), 1/2 Glenmorangie Scotch, 6 bottles of vodka (including 2 pomegranate). Next year: more tonic, less club. I'll tell you what people don't drink: GIN. I think too many of my friends snuck it from their parents in the 1980's and can no longer stomach it.

Non-alcoholic: surprisingly, only about 5 units of NA soda, juice, etc. Target/Market Panty blood orange soda was a big hit. 2 pots of coffee.

Food: I made a f-load of Red Beans and Rice using andouille from G&W, no seafood because it's too expensive and too easy to overcook. Made 18Qt., which was 6 QT. too many. Rice: OVERMADE. Next year cook about 18 cups of rice at most. Poor Scout the dog has been eating rice for a week.

Appetizers: aimed for liquor absorbing junk
party food. Big hits were chicken wing dip, Reuben dip, and massive platter o' taco dip. Also quickly ran out of friend Eli's crab cakes and andouille inhalers. My baby cupcakes were a big hit.

Party flow: you never know where people will congregate. I've long lamented that no one hangs out in our front formal parlor. Not this year damnit. People went to my parlor. I put the couch on a diagonal which i think made the room more welcoming. Guests spent a lot of time in the parlor, kitchen and front hall. Basement and cellar had good crowd. No one went in the TV room, which people usually cram in to. I moved the dining table against the wall so the dining room was big and open. Kids, by the way, don't want me to change it back. It's a wrestle mania dream come true.

Time: Party started at 6:30. First guests arrived at 7:00. Many people cleared o
ut at 12:00; another group left at 1:30. TIme at which I lost track of guests/food/topics of conversation because I'd overserved myself: 10:00.

Best hostess gift: bottle of vanilla. Not vanilla vodka, just pure vanilla extract.


  1. I'm sorry, but I'm confused. You have a beer cave at your house?!?! That's absolutely beautiful. I haven't read many of your posts, but I must assume that you live in Soulard, or the surrounding areas. Most "caves" (real opr man-made) tend to be in that area.

    Tres chic!

  2. Yes, the cave is under our basement. It's more like a vault. We do live in Soulard and many of the houses on our block have very similar caves under the basement, which are actually under the street. Very strange.