It’s a balmy evening and we have the car windows down, enjoying the warm breeze as we drive to the airport. I’ve had some friends visiting for the past week and it’s been fun showing them the sights in and around New Orleans and watching them fall in love with this city. But their vacation is coming to a close and I’ve got one more promise to fulfill, one more “only-in-Louisiana” experience to share with them before they head home: we’re stopping at a daiquiri drive-through.
To the uninitiated, it might sound like a joke. “You mean, you purchase alcoholic drinks from your car??? Must be a non-alcoholic daiquiri.” Let me assure you, these are not “virgin” cocktails – they contain potent spirits like rum, vodka and tequila, mixed into a sweet, slushie drink, available in a large variety of icy flavors. Some of the daiquiri names allude to their alcohol content, like “Octane 190” or “44 Magnum”. Other names give a nod to Louisiana culture: “Cajun Cooler”, “Swamp Water”, “Craw Gator”, “Hurricane” and my favorite, “Who Daq”. Prices range from about $4 to $8 for small, medium and large sizes. You can also buy it by the gallon for about $22. At most places, you can order extra shots added to your drink. Some also offer jello shots!
How is this possibly legal? Well, to be very clear, you can’t legally drink your daiquiri while driving. That should be obvious. Passengers can’t drink inside the car either. Louisiana law does not permit open containers of alcohol in a car, and to comply with this rule, the daiquiri is served in a “go-cup” with a lid. The straw hole must remain intact. Usually, a piece of tape covers the hole. As long as the straw does not penetrate the lid, it is not considered an open container and, therefore, legal.
There’s a line at the drive-through tonight, about 4 or 5 cars ahead of us, and we are glad we’ve allowed plenty of extra time before my friends need to be at the airport. The queue moves quickly though and soon, we are all perusing the long menu of flavor choices. My friends finally settle upon a Hurricane and a Mudslide. I choose a Piña Colada (my husband is the designated driver). As we approach the drive-up window and peek past the smiling salesgirl, we can see the rows of colorful, adult-only slushie dispensers. We receive our drinks, properly taped, and drive off.
My husband knows a place nearby, a small park area overlooking the river where we can sit down, watch the sun start to set, enjoy our daiquiris and make one final memory with our friends. We sip, and recall the previous week, the places we visited, the meals we enjoyed and I’m glad to know we are sending them home with one more New Orleans story to tell.