Drinking In… New Orleans

By Yolanda Evans

New Orleans is one destination that’s on everyone wish list as a place to visit. It’s a no wonder since this place offers good food, jazz and the ability to drink 24 hours if one feels the need. Since this is a city that is serious about it drinking, the question is just where does one goes to drinks seeing as there’s no shortage of bars? While in the Big Easy for Tales of the Cocktails, we had a chance to visit some of the local drinking establishments around town and here is our five picks to pull up a bar stool when in New Orleans.

The Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone: Frequent by literacy greats such as William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty and Tennessee Williams, The Carousel Bar in the historic Hotel Monteleone is a longtime favorite of locals and tourists alike. As the city’s only revolving bar, guests can take a spin on the 25-seat, bright circus-clad Merry-Go-Round while sipping on a Sazerac or Ramos Gin and chatting with new friends. Installed in 1949, this bar powered by a quarter horsepower motor, has drinkers rotating 360 degrees every 15 minutes. If you’re not lucky enough to grab a sit, then be prepared to follow your friends as they move around the bar.

SoBou: Newly opened in the swanky W Hotel in the French Quarter, Sobou is a Contemporary Creole Saloon from the family behind Commander’s Palace. It gets it name from being “South of Bourbon Street”, where serious drinkers go to get away from oversize beers and jelly shots. The adventurous cocktail menu was created by Lu Brow of the Swizzle Stick Bar and Abigail Gullo, who was recruited from New York. While the menu does focus on classics like fizzes and flips, there are also original cocktails like the Faubourg Tall Boy, made with Earl Grey-infused gin, creme de cassis, lemon and sparkling wine. Not only do the bartenders make great drinks, but they also do cocktail pairing with small bits as well. For wine and beer lovers, there’s a self-serve wine dispensing machines and a beer garden.

Old Absinthe House: The Old Absinthe House has been serving up drinks to patrons for more the 200 years and is a staple in the French Quarter. This legendary watering hole got its name from the “Old Absinthe House Frappe,” a popular absinthe concoction created by mixologist Cayetano Ferrer. Once banned in the US, patrons can now sample absinthe infused drinks like the Absinthe Suissesse legally and without worry. Beside the absinthe drinks, there’s also an array of fine malt scotches as well as house specialties  such as Pimm’s Cup, Brandy Milk Punch and the Hurricane. Even though this prominent bar is located on the touristy Bourbon Street, it’s still a fun hangout filled with history and great for people watching.

Bellecq: Named after famed photographer of Storyville, Bellecq is a sleek new cocktail lounge from Neal Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal and Matthew Kohnke, the team behind Cure. Located in the newly remodeled Hotel Modern, this bar turned to the 19th century for inspiration and focused on making cobblers made with sherry, port, vermouth, Chartreuse, Crème Yvette and Benedictine. In addition to the cobblers, there also punches, fortified wines and 19th century drinks like a Gin Smasher and Brandy Crusta. Not only are the drinks tasty, but affordable with a great happy hour for those who are budget friendly. If you want  to show off a little bit, there’s a baller’s menu filled with drinks that range in price from $14- $125.

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar: Rumored to have been used by the Lafitte Brothers, Jean and Pierre as a New Orleans base for their Barataria smuggling operation, Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar is a must visit while in New Orleans. It’s a great place to see where the local hang when they venture to the Quarter. It’s a fun old hunted bar — the oldest in America to be exact — at the end of Bourbon Street with a musician tickling the ivory of the piano, a back patio  with several tables and a fire pit. It’s  also one of the few places in town  that you can still drink a beer by candlelight since candles are still used to light up the bar.