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Daiq Attack: Celebrating New Orleans' Coolest Drink

This Saturday, August 18th, the Nola Daiquiri Festival will unleash a slew of local bartenders, daiq machines, food trucks, DJs, artists and a Sailor Jerry photo booth onto St. Claude Ave in honor of the city's beloved frozen beverage. Founder of the event, Jeremy JF Thompson, chatted with Eater about all things Daiquiri.

Why did you change your format this year from a tour to a fest?

The 2011 Daiquiri Shop Tour was a wild and memorable occasion, as anyone on that party bus will tell you, but the festival is ready to grow. Most New Orleans Festivals have a location, and are either free or cheap to attend, relying on publicity, precedent, and passers-by to fill their festival grounds. We want to make this festival available to everyone, and eventually to partner with a permanent location to establish the festival at annually. There's a good possibility of future Daiquiri Shop Tours, but as an added feature of the festival, rather than the mainstay.

The 2012 New Orleans Daiquiri Festival won't require a long description; simply show up, grab a daiquiri made by some of New Orleans' best bartenders, dance to some of New Orleans' best music, and repeat. They'll be t-shirts, koozies, souvenir cups and other unique daiquiri swag created by local artists. The New Orleans Daiquiri Club will have a sign-up table, and they'll be several pop-up eateries by some of New Orleans' best up-and-coming food vendors.

Why is the Daiquiri important to you and to New Orleans?

My first trip to Gene's Curbside Daiquiris played out like a typical tale of any kid in a candy shop. I wanted to try everything. I found out much later on that you actually can try nearly every flavor mixed together if you order a House Special, but my excitement was fueled more by the immediacy and the process of the experience. Unlike a bar, where one sits at a bar and sips on a cocktail or a beer, the Daiquiri Shop is? well, a shop. A shop being a place you go buy something and take it with you. The Daiquiri, as it's understood in New Orleans, is a symbol of our right to drink outdoors, to buy a gallon of daiquiri and take it to the park with friends, to loiter up and down the beautiful sidewalks of New Orleans, cup and straw in hand. The New Orleans Daiquiri Festival is about Defending the Daiquiri, which amount to defending an entire culture that could not exist without the freedom to enjoy these drinks outdoors. 

What's your favorite flavor? 

It's no secret that the current state of the Daiquiri is one largely dominated by sugary, artificially flavored syrups and cheap hi-proof booze, but that's part of the appeal, in the way that the urge to consume cheap pizza, fries and other junk foods cannot be satisfied by anything else. When it comes to Daiquiris like this, I'm a big fan of Banana Daiqs, the one at Gene's being my favorite. These kinds of Daiquiris have established themselves as the most popular drinks in New Orleans, and they'll always be the "classics" of Frozen Drinks, but the New Orleans Daiquiri Festival is much about preserving this culture as it is about providing opportunities to see this culture evolve in its own right. The relatively recent resurgence of craft cocktails, fresh ingredients, and new quality spirits behind the bar provides new appealing possibilities behind the Daiquiri Shop counter as well. Fresh Pineapple, Spiced Rum Daiquiri, anyone?

What do you do when you have a brain freeze?

A "brain freeze" is the layman's way of referring to being momentarily possessed by the Daiquiri God: Soulja Slim. When I have a "brain freeze," I embrace the pain and scream, "Thank you, Soulja Slim!" This is followed by a pattern of ritualistic cursing. 

· New Orleans Daiquiri Festival [Official Site]