How to Celebrate Mardi Gras on Long Island

Here's a Mardi Gras P.S.A.: The distance between central Long Island and Bourbon Street in New Orleans amounts to more than 1,340 miles, a straight 21-hour drive in good traffic. Good thing there are at least five ways you can celebrate Fat Tuesday on Feb. 9 right here on Long Island without ever having to cross a bridge or tunnel.

1. The Mardi Gras motherlode is at The Bayou Restaurant in Bellmore, which has been celebrating Mardi Gras for 30 years on Long Island. A week of nightly parties culminates on Feb. 9 with a $55-per-person price-fixe meal, with dinner seating at 5:30, 7:30, and 9:30 p.m. Reservations are required but walk-in guests will be accommodated where there is availability. The musical guest is The Buzzards, a rockabilly regular at The Bayou. The restaurant has been counting down the days until Mardi Gras on its Facebook page with wacky pictures every few days.

2. Another happening lineup can be found at Big Daddy's in Massapequa, one of Long Island's most popular Cajun restaurants, where seven days of Fat Tuesday fun are planned between Feb. 3 and Feb. 9. The menu will feature boiled crawfish dinners, oysters, special cocktails, and more to go with a different live music act each night. On the big day, a $35 ticket will get you into a New Orleans buffet and party — costumes recommended — that begins at 5 p.m. and goes, literally, until "question mark" o'clock.

3. Head east to celebrate the Big Easy. Montauk sleeps during the winter, a rest well-deserved after the summertime partygoers heed last call around Labor Day. But sparks of life pop up in the winter. Sure to be among them is East by Northeast Restaurant's "Mardi Gras in Montauk" party, planned for Feb. 9 from 7-10 p.m. This Pan Eastern-influenced restaurant will transform its menu into an all-you-can-eat Cajun party complete with silent auction and party novelties to benefit Camp Soulgrow, a Montauk-based nonprofit that holds inspirational camps and workshops for kids. Live music will be provided by Hopefully Forgiven, billed as "a hard drivin', mellow vibin', harmony-soaked roller coaster cocktail of 100 years of American spirits." Sounds appropriate. Tickets are $25.

4. Bourbon and barbecue. Another known Mardi Gras party spot is Bobbique in Patchogue. This bourbon-and-barbecue joint is encouraging dinner reservations on Feb. 9 and will charge $5 admission to its party at the bar. Guests can expect live music, masks and other party favors, and a New Orleans-inspired menu.

5. Here's a recipe for a D.I.Y. Mardi Gras party. Stock up on beads and other favors at a store such as Party Glitters in Hauppauge or Sandy's Party Supply Center Inc. in Franklin Square — which are known to be among the best mom-and-pop party supply stores on Long Island. Pull up a recipe for traditional foods like King Cake, gumbo, and jambalaya, but be sure to order your crawfish and oysters ahead of time from your favorite local seafood shop to avoid finding them out-of-stock. Tap your best bartender friend to mix up some trendy New Orleans style cocktails, like this "Creolo Cocktail" from, which features spiced rum, agave nectar, club soda, lemon, and mint. Choose from among many community jazz and Mardi Gras playlists on Spotify. Just add friends, and you're sure to have a killer Fat Tuesday, no matter which day of the week you choose to celebrate.

Bonus: While it won't open in time for Mardi Gras in 2016, a New Orleans-style restaurant that's coming to Freeport's Nautical Mile has the potential to bring the party to Long Island year-round once it opens in April. Nawlins Seafood Company announced on its website plans to bring Bourbon Street to Woodcleft Avenue with authentic recipes and experiences. Stay tuned.

Christine Sampson is a full-time journalist who has lived on Long Island for more than 30 years.