“What can I getcha honey?”
Quick, I think, make a decision. Strawberry is too predictable. The chocolate was good last time. What the hell is a “shockwave?”
I’m behind the wheel of my car, ordering alcoholic frozen daiquiris from a drive through window. Welcome to Louisiana. (Extra shots available upon request.)
Drive through daiquiri joints dot the landscape here in Southern Louisiana, and are a point of pride among the locals. Yes, we can order booze from our car, all without unbuckling the seatbelt.
I moved here last year from New York City – where an open container of Crystal Light can get you the side eye from police – to suburban New Orleans where it’s open season on open cups.
At first I figured “daiquiri” must mean something different down here than it did at home. After all, my new home comes with its own culture, its own slang and its own set of rules. I kept seeing daiquiri shops with as much frequency as McDonald’s or the ubiquitous Waffle House. No way, I thought, do those drinks have alcohol in them.
“Do daiquiris mean smoothies?” I asked a friend.
“Well, yeah they are like smoothies, but they have alcohol in them,” she replied.
I quickly learned that daiquiris are Louisiana’s unofficial drink of choice. Forget hurricanes and hand grenades on Bourbon Street. Those are for the tourists. Daiquiris are where it’s at. They are a staple at JazzFest , Mardi Gras and backyard barbecues. Even the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans sells daiquiris in an animal-themed souvenir to-go cup.
While it may seem like Louisiana’s enthusiasm for alcohol “to go” would mean soaring rates of drunk driving, the number of drunk driving fatalities in Louisiana ranks well below other states, including Illinois, Texas, California, Florida and North Carolina, according to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.
And the state does have open container laws, but a daiquiri or other frozen alcoholic beverage is considered closed as long as there is a lid not punctured by an open straw. Which means daiquiris with closed lids are good to go. I’ve also received daiquiris with straws that still have paper covering the top.
As my friend once said, during my inaugural drive through daiquiri run, “We’re not going to drink it while we’re driving, we’re just going to go get it.”
“Then what are we going to do with it?”
“Then we’re going to go stop and drink it,” she said, breaking into a laugh as she realized exactly how insane all of this sounded to an outsider like me.
Now, after nearly a year down here, I’m a daiquiri enthusiast like the rest of them. I bring them to cookouts. I once brought two gallons to a Christmas party where Santa Claus came to greet the children. I know – classy.
When my cousin and her family came down for a visit, we picked up a couple of daiquiris on the way to the playground after dinner.
She was incredulous that you could take them to the playground. I realize that some people may frown on that, but lucky for me, I am not some people.
Back at the drive through window, I can order not just a daiquiri – two mediums for $9 – I can order a beer, Jell-O shots and tooters to go. I later learned “tooters” were shots that come in test tubes.
I chose the lemonade shock daiquiri. And I confess. I did order a Jell-O shot just so I could tell people back home I ordered a Jell-O shot at the drive through.