My husband, Mark, and I just bought a home in Algiers. At the end of our block is the levee where we often walk with our kids, enjoying the soundtrack of Edna Karr's marching band practice against the backdrop of the Mississippi River. Right on the other side of the river is the town of Arabi and the Lower 9th Ward.
When I was (very) pregnant with our son in August 2016, I was working in a high-rise on Poydras St. when a huge funnel cloud formed outside my building, ultimately substantially damaging parts of the Treme. I had never seen a tornado before and was absolutely terrified, in part because I watched the movie Twister at a way-too-young age. When Mark was working as a first responder in 2017, he told me the story of a young women he met in the wake of a catastrophic tornado in New Orleans East. She was pregnant, and had hidden herself in her bathtub to protect herself while the roof was ripped from her home in the path of the tornado.
This past Wednesday night, Mark and I sat on the porch of our new house and held our breath. The clouds changed shape quickly and the color of the sky turned bright green. We couldn't tell what was happening, but we knew it was bad. While we debated if we should wake the baby, where to locate the cat, and which closet to hide in, our five-year-old danced around to the Encanto soundtrack - blissfully unbothered.
After the weather and the commotion calmed down, we discovered that our home had very much been at risk, but we were okay. Instead of hitting us, the tornado hit the other side of our little view of the river - a community that keeps getting hit, where rebuilding is much, much harder. New Orleans is not an easy city to live in, but we do know how to rally for our own in a disaster.
Over the next two Sundays (and then some!), Happy Raptor will be raising funds and giving out free food to all in the tasting room, in the hopes of supporting those impacted by the tornado. We know from experience that we can count on our neighbors to show up and do the work right by our side, supporting those who need it the most. All I can say is that we are blessed to have a space to do this, and there by the grace of God goes I.
Meagen Moreland-Taliancich is the co-founder, majority owner, and Chief Brand Officer of Happy Raptor Distilling. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in getting involved in our tornado relief efforts, drop us an email at email@example.com.
On January 2, 2020, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I remember sitting in the hospital shortly after being diagnosed, questioning if I’ll ever have a sip of alcohol again. Being diagnosed with T1D at 26 years old brought on new daily challenges. For me, it has meant needles, juice boxes, finger pricking, bruises, lots of blood, ignorant comments, sleepless nights, insurance battles, judgmental stares, doctor appointments, and long runs cut short. There is nothing I could have done to prevent my diagnosis, and there is no cure (yet). Without proper management of my insulin, this disease could cost me my health and my life.
Regardless of the challenges, I’m a big believer in living this life with T1D to the fullest. As it turns out, I didn’t have to give up all the foods I love, and I can still have a drink on the porch with my husband. Of course, like anyone with or without type 1, it’s important to monitor my diet and how much I have to drink.
If you’re someone with a working pancreas (congratulations), you may see me drinking a rum punch and ask, “Can you have that?” or “Should you be drinking that?”. The answer is “yes”! Due to the effect of alcohol on blood sugar, I personally prefer to stick with drinks that have a lower alcohol sugar content. However, this doesn’t mean that I can’t have those sugary drinks – it’s all about what’s right for my body at the time. Once I understand the ingredients in a drink, I adjust my insulin dosage as needed.
Being a T1D, we are so appreciative of businesses that are transparent with their ingredients and flexible if we need any accommodations. During my first experience at Happy Raptor, I decided to go for a low carb drink. The bartender worked with me to create a cocktail from scratch that I knew would be more manageable for my blood sugars. That little bit of understanding and awareness has an impact. At the end of the day, T1D is exhausting and draining. Sitting back and enjoying a cocktail on vacation without having to obsess about managing my insulin – that’s a great moment for me.
-- Alexa Moreland
2oz 504Hibiscus Rum
1oz Blue Horchata
1oz Best OJ
1oz Blueberry syrup
2 Shakes Orange Bitters
Orange peel for garnish
Marsh Parsley for garnish
Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice. Garnish as desired with orange peel and marsh parsley.
To Make Blue Horchata
2 parts (1/2 lb) blue mosaic corn flour
2 parts rice flour
1 part pecan flour
2 parts turbinado/raw sugar
5 parts water
One lime, sliced and dehydrated
Zest of one orange
10 dried rose petals
Bring all ingredients to simmer until rice and corn become tender, stirring constantly, about 20 minutes. Add more water as necessary to create desired thickness.
Strain and bottle.
To Make Best OJ
Gather oranges and peel, reserving peels. Juice fruit into a container. Infuse half of peels into juice overnight, reserving remainder as cocktail garnish.
To Make Blueberry syrup.
1 cup Local Blueberry Juice (We use J&D Farms Juice)
1 cup sugar
3 Rosemary sprigs
5 Mint sprigs
Add all ingredients to a pot and heat to a simmer. Let herbs steep in syrup for 30 minutes. Strain and cool.
We developed this cocktail for the annual Garden to Glass cocktail competition at the National WWII Museum, hosted by Eat Local NOLA & the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee. The challenge was to create a cocktail made from local ingredients that could have been commonly found in victory gardens during the WWII era. Our cocktail won the competition, and we couldn't be prouder! If it's too intimidating to try this at home, you can sample the winning cocktail at The American Sector for the next year.
We got to work, knowing that 504Hibiscus would be the base of our drink. The Blue Mamou is loosely based on a cocktail called The Big Mamou that was served at The American Sector, restaurant at the WWII Museum, around 10 years ago. The Big Mamou originated in the 1940s in New Orleans, and was commonly served as a tiki cocktail at the Sazerac, the Roosevelt's Blue Room, and other high-end bars in the city. The original version of the drink, as far as we can gather from our historical research, commonly used rum, orgeat, fruit juice and herbs.
Our version of the classic tiki drink highlights our floral rum and subs in house-made horchata for orgeat, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a blueberry-herb syrup with wild-foraged marsh parsley as a perfectly refreshing, sustainably sourced garnish.
We hope you like it as much as we do!
2oz. 504Bananas Foster
1oz. Blueberry Juice (we recommend JD Blueberry Farms juice)
1oz. Lemon Juice
1oz. Herbal simple syrup
5 dashes aromatic bitters
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake, and strain over ice. Top with herb garnish.
Hi from Marketing Manager Ash! June is an important month in the LGBTQ+ Community as we celebrate Pride during this month, in remembrance of the Stonewall uprisings of June 1969. Marsha P. Johnson was a prominent figure in the Stonewall rebellion, and it is because of her and several other trans black women that the LGBTQ+ community has made it this far and can continue to fight for our collective liberation.
In planning our Pride Art Market and other pride month activities, it was important to me and other LGBTQ+ staff members to honor our predecessors, like Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk, and so many others who worked to improve and expand our rights.
Stop in this weekend to try all our Pride Specials, benefiting House of Tulip:
The Marsha P.: Pay it no mind, a blueberry and herb drink with 504Bananas Foster.
Harvey's Jungle Milk: Fruity, nutty and creamy.
The Bayard Rustin: Our take on a Dark & Stormy.
The Stonewaller: It Packs a Punch.
June is Pride Month, and I love the excitement of this time of year. I learned about Pride for the first time in the drama room at my high school in South Carolina where I spent pretty much every day and evening of my teenage years. Then, I celebrated for long hours in heels well into the morning at parades and nightclubs across Washington, DC, New York, and Boston where I spent most of my twenties. And there was that other time I went to Southern Decadence for about an hour before I realized...drumroll please....not all spaces are for me.
As a business owner, years later, Pride Month is something my co-founders and I experience as strong advocates of an equitable and giving community. Despite my knee-jerk reaction to put pink glitter in any cocktail always, our responsibility is to support a strong, diverse team and create a safe space for our staff and guests of all backgrounds.
Here are a few things that we prioritize, worry about, and appreciate about the journey to growing an equitable business:
Safety goes well beyond a few simple policies in our handbook. It means an unwavering expectation of empathy, vulnerability, and communication amongst our team at all levels. It means clear boundaries that protect our staff and guests from transgressions that are far too often overlooked in the hospitality industry. Not to mention, it means equitable, fair, and transparent wages and benefits.
We support local nonprofit organizations that work to improve equity in our community year-round - and we offer our event space to nonprofits for free. We donated $10,000 in donation of funds, products, and services in 2020 (our first year in business) and we're on track to double that in 2021. (Fingers crossed!)
Almost half of our current team identifies as LGBTQ+, and their trust in us is extremely important. Distilling is historically an exclusionary industry, where jobs and access can be hard to find. We continue to work everyday - especially thanks to some incredible local partners - on building and prioritizing diversity across our team.
We are thrilled for the opportunity to raise funds for House of Tulip, a nonprofit collective creating housing solutions for transgender and gender nonconforming people in Louisiana. And we're thrilled to push ourselves and throw our largest art market to date, supporting LBGTQ+ creators, artists, and food vendors across two whole days. At the end of the day, our Marketing Manager Ash said it best, "the feeling of community, acceptance, and family is universal" - and we are here for it.
Hi Happy Raptor family!
I'm Ash, the Marketing Manager (and sometimes bartender/tour guide) at Happy Raptor.
June is Pride Month - an important time in the LGBTQ community to celebrate identity and community, and pay respects to those who came before us, fighting the fight so we can thrive.
As a queer nonbinary person making (or attempting to make) a career in marketing and communications, the display of rainbow capitalism during Pride month is more than frustrating, and I hesitate to use any official platforms to celebrate Pride from a business standpoint. I don’t want to exploit my identity or community for the sake of likes, shares, and ultimately, profit.
Luckily, I have an incredible team around me at Happy Raptor and a boss that says “yes, and” to my ideas, so we’re doing things a bit different this month.
We hope you will join us in celebrating and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans, gender non-conforming, and BIPOC members of our community. The first Pride was a riot, and we owe our collective liberation to black trans women like Marsha P. Johnson.
Several staff members at Happy Raptor are part of the LGBTQ community, so we’re sharing our stories with you this month. We’re also doing everything we can to uplift the LGBTQ+ community in New Orleans. A portion of the proceeds from cocktail specials, 504Hibiscus Lemonade, and cocktail class admission on June 19th and 20th will benefit House of Tulip, an organization supporting trans and gender non-conforming communities in New Orleans through providing access to housing, education, healthcare, employment and home ownership.
On Saturday, June 19th and Sunday, June 20th we’re hosting our first-ever Pride Arts Market! Queer creators of all backgrounds will be set up to sell their wares and share their art with you. More information and details are available on our website, Facebook, and Instagram.
To close, I want to tell y’all about this photo - a few years ago, I went to World Pride in New York City. There was glitter and rainbows and parading and partying, but most importantly, there was family and community.
Pride is many things and it means something different to everyone, but I think the feeling of community, acceptance, and family is universal, and that’s why we do it year after year.
This May, we took to the streets in our neighborhood to clear storm drain catch basins as part of Pontchartrain Conservancy's #StormSweep2021 efforts! We learned from Pontchartrain Conservancy's work that as litter accumulates in our streets and sewer systems, it prevents Lake Pontchartrain from draining properly, threatening homes, businesses and roadways with flooding. We know that our tasting room takes on water FAST if the storm drains on our street aren't properly cleaned, so as a local business and as a community partner of this year's Storm Sweep, we knew it was up to us to clean our streets and protect our building from flooding.
Through May 31, you can stop into the tasting room for a free 8oz. cocktail with proof of Storm Sweep volunteer registration - after cleaning drains this week, we definitely needed a drink.
We cleaned nearly 20 storm drains in our neighborhood, and y'all, it was no easy thing. Our team was armed with shovels, trowels, a rake, gardening and work gloves, and trash bags, and it still felt like it wasn't enough.
Among the trash we found clogging our drains were:
If you want to be part of the solution, head on over to the Storm Sweep website. Hurricane season officially starts June 1, but as we New Orleanians know, street flooding has no respect for the Gregorian calendar and causes the destruction of many a car and home year-round.
At Happy Raptor, uplifting the work of local nonprofits is central to our operations and mission. We're lucky to partner with nonprofits year round, and this May it's our main focus - that's why we're dubbing it the Month of Giving. Keep reading for a full list of this month's partnerships and how you can support these great New Orleans-based organizations!
Are you involved with a nonprofit organization? We offer our space as an event venue at no cost to nonprofits. Contact our Guest Experience Coordinator for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're an entrepreneur, then you know the special hell that is trying to name and trademark your new brand. It's one of those "should-be-fun-but-is-actually-pretty-hard" traps of getting started. When we were in that phase circa 2017, our son was still an infant. A loud, sort of screechy, but very sweet infant that didn't sleep. We often said he sounded like a velociraptor from Jurassic Park. After weeks or more of brainstorming and trademark database verifying, we had nothin' but a bunch of weird words smushed together. One evening, Peter made a comment that our son sounded like a velociraptor, but a happy one. (Not the door-opening, escape from the paddock, life finds a way raptor.) A Happy Raptor. Lightbulb. Perfect.
Today, our son is almost four and the name still embodies his bright energy and our mission to create premium infused rum inspired by our culture, our community, and the things that bring us joy. The best surprise has been relating to other parents who come into the tasting room. On many an occasion, we've seen a mom or dad's face light up when we tell the story and exclaim, "My daughter sounded like a pterodactyl!" or "My kid was a T-Rex!". It's a reassuring connection that unexpectedly brings out the same nostalgia and joy in our guests as it does for us. As for our son, he only knows the company as "my raptor".
Through Sat, September 19th, we're assisting University of Holy Cross to collect donations for members of our Louisiana community impacted by Hurricane Laura. Happy Raptor is happy to say thank you with a free 16oz. Hibiscus Hurricane every time you donate!
Reports from Lake Charles have stated that first responders are
in great need of wash clothes and bath towels.
· Cases of Bottled Water, Powerade, Gatorade [VERY IMPORTANT - They have no running water right now]
· Contractor Trash Bags
· Work Gloves
· Latex Gloves
· Hand Sanitizer
· Cases of Bleach, Lysol, Clorox Wipes, etc.
· Rakes, Mops, Brooms, Buckets, Shovels, etc.
· Utility Knives (for removing sheetrock)
· Cases of Paper Towels, Toilet Paper, Kleenex, etc.
· Flashlights & Batteries
· Non-perishable dry goods and canned goods
· Easily prepared non-perishable food (remember - no electricity and no tap water)
· Baby Items (Diapers, Wipes, Formula, Food, Bottles, Powder, etc.)
· Plastic storage bins
· Soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, razors, floss, feminine products, deodorant, etc.
· Boxes & Packing Tape
· Duct Tape
· Dog and Cat Food
· Giftcards (Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, etc.)
NOTE: We are NOT ACCEPTING clothes
TASTING ROOM HOURS
Mon-Wed | 12pm-7pm
Thurs-Sat | 12pm-8pm
Sun | 12pm-6pm
TOURS AND TASTINGS
Everyday By Appointment
UPCOMING CLOSURES & SPECIAL HOURS
July 4, 2022 - Closed all day
July 20, 2022- Closed all day
Credit/Debit is preferred in the tasting room. We do not keep cash on the premises and cannot give change for cash transactions. If necessary, special arrangements can be made in advance of your visit.
1512 Carondelet Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Corner of Martin Luther King, Jr Blvd & Carondelet Street
One block off Saint Charles Ave @ Melpomene streetcar stop
Free street parking is available
Bicyclists receive 10% off
*The address may also appear on your GPS as 1512 Robert C. Blakes Sr. Drive. Never fear - you're in the right place! We are located on a renamed, two-block stretch of Carondelet Street.
Happy Raptor Distilling, LLC is a woman-owned business and a member of the Certified Louisiana network.
According to law, we never sell or promote the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.
Please drink responsibly.