December 8, 2023

New Orleans is famous for witty defiance in the face of looming misfortune and one iconic city watering hole is taking the latest turn of ominous events with a pinch of salt.

The 130-year-old Commander’s Palace restaurant has presented the Big Easy with its latest cocktail creation – linked to bad news for the environment and the healthier tipple of tap water.

Last month New Orleans’ mayor, LaToya Cantrell, signed an emergency declaration for the city on Friday amid concerns about a wedge of saltwater from the the Gulf of Mexico creeping up the drought-hit Mississippi River in Louisiana and threatening the city’s water supplies.

Now the Commander’s Palace has launched a special cocktail called the Salt Wedge. The restaurant posted a clip on Instagram showing a mixologist shaking up the cocktail, and the post says: “When life gives you salt we make a salt wedge cocktail.”

It includes tequila, Aperol, grapefruit juice and lime juice, garnished with a lime wedge dipped in a sweet and sour sauce called chamoy, rolled in kosher salt and spiced with chilis, and with a little salt at the bottom of the drink. The story was first published by Axios.

“We might as well have a drink while we wait for the locusts, right?” Commander’s Palace co-proprietor Ti Adelaide Martin said to the outlet. “New Orleans experienced saltwater intrusion in the late 80s and we made it through, like we always do. We are confident that with a little bit of preparation and tequila, we can do the same this time around.”

It’s the first time in 30 years that saltwater intrusion up the Mississippi River due to drought conditions is threatening the drinking water supply of the city of New Orleans, with drinking water for 1.2 million people expected to become unsafe by late October.

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Impacts could last weeks or months without significant rainfall, while the US Army Corps of Engineers is working to mitigate the saltwater intrusion in the Mississippi River and construction is expected to begin on pipelines to extract drinking water further upstream.

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