Walking around New Orleans, makes you hungry. And all that food makes you thirsty. Fortunately, New Awlins is a drinking kinda town. I admit that even though I knew about the “drink on the street as long as it’s in a plastic cup” rule, it was still shocking to me to see people imbibing pretty much at all hours. The French Quarter felt like a giant frat party 24/7.
Still, when in Rome, right?
Our first foray into NOLA drinks was kind of accidental. We had taken a walking tour on our first morning there and it was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to just wander around the French Quarter and soak up some of the atmosphere. And since it was hot, you know, we were a little thirsty so as if by magic we found ourselves at Pat O’Brien’s, famous for the Hurricane, a blend of rums (including 151!) and fruit juices. Looked, and tasted innocent enough. Perhaps this is because we didn’t know at that point about the 151… Anyway, it was very refreshing on a hot day and it was cool to be able to wander around in the streets with our “go cups”.
Me? I said at the time that “Whoah – one of these is enough!” Neil proclaimed that he could “easily” drink three of them. Right then…
Later that day, actually later that night, we found ourselves at Snug Harbor, a jazz bistro with a bar and a restaurant. It had been recommended to us by a local as “the” place to go to listen to live jazz (that wasn’t Preservation Hall – more on that in a later post) without having to pay a big cover charge, since they have a spearate room in the back for the jazz concerts but pipe the music into the bar and also broadcast the shows on tiny televesions behind the bar. It was a fun night as we sat at the bar and met a few colourful local characters…
It’s a funky little place with cool art on the walls…
Just, you know, don’t sit at the bar for a long time and feel obliged to order more Hurricanes. Your night might be a bit fuzzy, you know?
And then you literally won’t know if you are coming or going. Check out the NOLA pedestrian crossing signs:
In a party town, that’s a bit cruel, huh? Is it Walk? Is it Don’t Walk? Who would know. This confused us the whole time we were there, even with no Hurricane in our system!
The next day, we took a Haunted History walking tour (more on that in another post) and one of the stops on the way was Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, built between 1722 and 1732 by Nicolas Touze, and reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States. It’s also rumoured to be haunted and the interior does contribute to that feeling…
It’s a sweet little place and we were sorry we never made it back for a drink. Too many bars and restaurants, not enough time…
941 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, LA 70116-3120, United States
A place I had been eyeing in our guidebooks for a while was the Napoleon House. According to the website, few places capture the essence of New Orleans like the Napoleon House: A 200 year old landmark that’s as casual and unique as its French Quarter surroundings. The building’s first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile. Napoleon never made it, but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America, a haunt for artists and writers throughout most of the 20th century. Owned and operated by the Impastato family since 1914, it’s a place that suspends you in time, where you can hear Beethoven’s Eroiqua, which he composed for Napoleon, and the music of other classical masters, while sipping a Pimm’s Cup, and basking in an ambiance that could only be New Orleans.
Ah the Pimm’s Cup. Both Neil and I are huge fans of Pimm’s so we were keen to try this one out.
Created in 1840 in England, Pimm’s is the central ingredient in this classic NOLA drink. The Pimm’s Cup recipe, according to the Napoleon House website is as follows: Fill a tall 12 oz glass with ice and add 1 1/4 oz. Pimm’s #1 and 3 oz lemonade. Then top off with 7up. Garnish with cucumber.
They DO warn, however, “home concoctions of the Pimm’s Cup, no matter how accurate, for some reason, never taste as good as those at the Napoleon House.”
Now, since our drinks were in no way fizzy, I am dubious that they used 7-Up. It tasted more like lemon juice proper. A perfect summer drink, though and one that we will definitely be replicating this summer at home!
On our last night in NOLA, we finally made it to the Sazerac Bar, in the Roosevelt Hotel, literally steps from our (less fancy) hotel so we had passed it at least twice a day since we arrived.
It’s quite posh…
(yeah, and that’s just the hotel lobby!)
and the Ramos Gin Fizz for me:
Containing gin, simple syrup, egg white (these days, most likely powdered), lemon and lime juice, soda water and – cream – I am not sure what I was expecting but it tasted like an alcoholic smoothie. Not so sure you would want any more than one small one of these – the whole gin with cream thing didn’t really do it for me, but you know, I had to take one for the blog, right? Neil felt the same way about the Sazerac, rye whiskey not really being his drink. Still, it’s a beautiful bar and an oasis of calm compared to the frenetic pace of the French Quarter, just a few blocks away. Also, you can pretend you are rich and famous and imagine you are staying in the hotel…
123 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA 70112-2303, United States
Should you put these places on your list for a future trip to New Orleans? Definitely! Even though some of them are so very touristy, it’s part of the fun. Try as you might, you won’t be able to resist New Orleans’ charms and infectious party mentality!