Pensacola, Florida
Saturday February 24th 2018

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Mardi Party 2018

KREWE BREW
By Stephanie Sharp

The idea of Mardi Gras is to get your vices out of your system before Ash Wednesday and there are plenty of ways to do just that and stay local this season. For example, if craft beer is your thing the new kid on the block has just the brew for you.

Perfect Plain Brewing Co. has hit the ground running since opening Thanksgiving weekend and hasn’t slowed down. On Friday, Feb. 2, they introduced the first custom craft beer created for Mardi Gras. In collaboration with Pensacola Mardi Gras Inc., Perfect Plain hosted a naming contest at their Garden Street taproom where krewes had the chance to name the new brew.

LOCAL TRADITIONS
The team at Perfect Plain is stacked with Pensacola locals eager to promote and celebrate local culture. D.C. Reeves, CEO and co-founder of Perfect Plain, knows that Mardi Gras memories are ubiquitous to life in Pensacola.

“As a child, it’s about catching beads. In your twenties, it’s about a little revelry. In my thirties, it’s about seeing my daughter’s smile while she gets to experience it all,” said Reeves. “What’s cool about Mardi Gras is that you never really grow out of it.”

As a part of their mission to be as community-driven as possible, Perfect Plain looks for opportunities to enrich local events with a custom craft beer element. For instance, on Thursday, Feb. 1, they released the Perfect Pensacon Belgian Dubbel in partnership with Pensacon.

“We try to be hyper local, because we know at the end of the day, it’ll be the community that supports us.”

For their other event themed brew, Perfect Plain partnered with Pensacola Mardi Gras, Inc., the clearinghouse for Mardi Gras events in Pensacola and the organizers of the annual Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade.

Danny Zimmern, president of Pensacola Mardi Gras, Inc., is a realtor for Scoggins III, Inc. and represented Perfect Plain during their search for their taproom and brewing facilities.

“We take a lot of pride in Perfect Plain, having helped bring them downtown,” said Zimmern.

As development downtown has flourished, so has the economic impact of Mardi Gras. Perfect Plain’s location on Garden Street and off of the official Grand Parade route signals a seasonal sprawl that Zimmern hopes will continue.

“As downtown Pensacola matures, we want to be bigger than a one street celebration.”

FLAVOR OF THE SEASON
When the team at Perfect Plain gets an idea for a new beer, the process usually starts at their Monday morning “family meeting.” Reeves, along with co-founder and director of brewing operations Reed Odeneal, general manager Bryant Liggett and head brewer Brett Schweigert.

Once they decide on an idea, they figure out what it should taste like and what features it should have. If the flavor combination is ambitious, they will do a pilot run and decide if they need to change course. When the beer is finalized and ready to tap, the bartenders are trained on the new beer to help better serve customers in the taproom.

According to Reeves, it takes about a month from that first meeting to tapping the new beer for the public. Anytime they make a commitment to custom craft beer for a local event, it’s a commitment from their whole team.

“You can’t just decide the day before,” Reeves said. “It’s not something you can just throw together.”

This particular custom beer will be a “hat tip” to a traditional Mardi Gras cocktail, the Pimm’s Cup, and will have ingredients based around that flavor profile.

KREWE LOVE
If you’ve ever seen a Mardi Gras parade, you’ve probably noticed the different floats and the various krewes that populate them. These social organizations form around mutual interests or lifestyles and adopt the theme of their choice. In Pensacola, krewes range from flappers in the roaring ’20s to local historic characters.

According to Zimmern, PMGI can identify at least 80 Mardi Gras krewes but estimates the true number to be around 90 krewes, representing different walks of life and even charitable causes.

“If you can live by the rules, you’re welcome. We’re a big tent celebration,” said Zimmern.

Interest in local craft beer is another defining factor for some of the krewes.

“All 90 krewes are not going to be into it,” said Zimmern. “But there will be some that really find a lot of energy behind coming together at a place like Perfect Plain and enjoying craft beer together.”

PERFECT PLAIN BREWING CO.
50 E. Garden St.
perfectplain.com

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LAISSEZ LE BON DOUGH ROULER
By Stephanie Sharp

Local bakery and donut delivery service Le Dough is getting the Mardi Gras spirit and whipping up festive treats to feast on until Fat Tuesday. Inweekly asked owner and baker Sam Eckiss about her local roots, creative process and Mardi Gras memories.

INWEEKLY: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
ECKISS: I‘m a born and raised local girl. I grew up in a home where baking was a regular occurrence, whether it be cakes, cookies, biscuits… the mixer was always going. I have a science background from studying at UWF and baking is definitely that, so I think I come by it naturally. The idea of Le Dough came to me after traveling around the country and being fascinated by other boutique/artisan donut shops. I really wanted to have something like that in Pensacola, so I decided to go for it. Having the idea of a business and working to make it come to life has been and continues to be an exciting journey.

INWEEKLY: Can you describe the different Mardi Gras specials you’ve been making this season?
ECKISS: We have the King Cake Donut, full King Cakes, Fleur de Lis Cream Pie Sammies, and my personal favorite is our Moonpie Donut. Mardi Gras isn’t complete until you have a King Cake and a Moonpie, so I decided to put my own spin on it and make them into signature donut creations. I hope that Le Dough’s creations become a part of peoples’ Mardi Gras (and all holiday) traditions.

INWEEKLY: What does the creative process look like for you—from theme to the finished product?
ECKISS: I live for a good theme menu. I literally dream about theme ideas, recipes, products and flavor combinations. I wake up and type out notes of what I want to do and possible flavor combinations, then narrow it down and start testing out recipes. After I’m satisfied with the test run, I have a few taste testers who give me their thoughts on it. After that, it goes on the menu.

INWEEKLY: What is your favorite thing about Mardi Gras in Pensacola? Do you have any memories you’d like to share?
ECKISS: I feel like Mardi Gras really is one of the best times of the year. The entire community really gets into it and there is something going on every weekend. There’s a fun, positive and creative energy that I like most about it. Aside from the surge in New Orleans style cuisine, my favorite part about Mardi Gras in Pensacola is when the season kicks off and the parades, the weekend before Fat Tuesday. I love seeing all of the parade floats, what themes everyone comes up with and the designs. They get bigger and better every year.

INWEEKLY: What do you consider to be the flavors of Mardi Gras season?
ECKISS: Mardi Gras is such a colorful and exciting time of year, and I think the flavors of food reflect that. There is nothing bland when it comes to Mardi Gras. I always think lots of spice, lots of cinnamon, marshmallow and all the sprinkles. Whether it be some spicy jambalaya, beignets covered in powdered sugar,  or a banana Moonpie donut, it should feel like a party in your mouth.

INWEEKLY: What’s a normal day at LeDough like? Is Mardi Gras season busier than usual or no?
ECKISS: A normal day is a lot of planning for the next. Planning out possible menus, and always brainstorming new products, specials, and events. Making a point to stay connected on social media is a must. Most important, is being in the kitchen making quality treats for our clients. I really enjoy that we are a delivery-based bakery. It adds a personal touch and I like getting to meet each person who orders from us and have that connection. Mardi Gras has turned out to be a busy season for us. I think our inventive take on traditional recipes have been well received.

INWEEKLY: What’s next for LeDough after Mardi Gras season ends?
ECKISS: The day after Fat Tuesday is Valentine’s Day and we have some really cute and tasty gifts for you in store. We’ll be doing donut bouquets and custom letter donut grams that you can have delivered to your Valentine or Galentine. I’m really excited about these. We have also been doing beer and donut pairings with Perfect Plain Brewery most Sundays and will continue that. I’ve really enjoyed getting more creative with flavor combinations to pair with their beers. We will also be at the Market Basket on Sunday, Feb. 18 hosted by the Junior League of Pensacola, as well as the Spring Market at Wild Lemon in March. We will, of course, always be doing our weekly donut deliveries too. We change up the menu all the time and post everything on our Instagram and Facebook page.

LE DOUGH
helloledough.com

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Perfect Pairing
After reading this story we have a feeling you’re going to be dying to try a Mardi Gras beer and King Cake donut. If you’re heading downtown Saturday for the parade, that’s going to be super easy to do.
Le Dough is going to be set up and selling donuts and taking King Cake orders at Perfect Plain. So you can cross two things off your must try list.

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MARDI GRAS HAPPENINGS

FRIDAY 2.9
KREWE OF LAFITTE ILLUMINATED PARADE
7:30 p.m. Downtown. kreweoflafitte.com

SATURDAY 2.10
O’RILEY’S MARDI GRAS CELEBRATION
10 a.m. O’Riley’s Irish Pub, 321 S. Palafox. orileyspub.com
PRE AND POST-PARADE PARTY 11 a.m. Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St. sevillequarter.com
MARDI GRAS PARTY
1:30-6 p.m. $37.63. SoGourmet, 407-D S. Palafox. sogourmetpensacola.com
PENSACOLA MARDI GRAS PARADE
2-6 p.m. Downtown. pensacolamardigras.com

SUNDAY 2.11
NEW ORLEANS BRUNCH WITH CHEF LEON GALATOIRE
11 a.m. and 1 p.m. $45 per person. Jackson’s Steakhouse, 400 S. Palafox. greatsouthernrestaurants.com
KREWE OF WRECKS PARADE
2 p.m. Via de Luna and Avenida 10 to Gulfside Pavilion. pensacolabeachmardigras.com
POST-PARADE PARTY
4 p.m. Sandshaker Lounge, 731 Pensacola Beach Blvd. sandshaker.com

TUESDAY 2.13
ABITA BREWING COMPANY TAP TAKEOVER
4-10 p.m. In the spirit of Mardi Gras Day, WOB is letting Louisiana’s very own Abita Brewing Company run a tap takeover. They will be featuring 10 different drafts, plus multiple bottle features. World of Beer, 200 S. Palafox. facebook.com/wobpensacola
VALENTINE’S AND MARDI GRAS VINO MAGNIFICO
5:30 p.m. $12 per person. V. Paul’s Italian Ristorante, 29 S. Palafox. vpauls.com
2018 PRISCUS BALL
6 p.m. Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St. sevillequarter.com
MARDI GRAS DAY AT PARADISE
6-10 p.m. Annual shoebox float competition, live music. Paradise Bar & Grill, 21 Via de Luna Dr. paradisebar-grill.com
KREWE OF COMA, CORONATION & LIGHTED HAT CONTEST
6 p.m. Sandshaker Lounge, 731 Pensacola Beach Blvd. sandshaker.com