Big Easy Bars: 5 Can’t Miss Places in New Orleans
Posted On: February 9, 2016
These five spots are the quintessential watering holes you’ll want to hit up when you are in NOLA.
By Kelly Magyarics, DWS, CSX Editor-in-Chief
The Sazerac was invented in New Orleans, so it’s safe to say the city knows a thing or two about cocktails. (The largest gathering of cocktailians takes place there for a few days each July during Tales of the Cocktail.) NOLA really is one of those places where you’ll find yourself saying “too many bars, not enough time.” But here are five of the most iconic ones to whet your whistle, including a “lagniappe” about each, the “little something extra” that aptly describes the town’s hospitality.
The Roost Bar at Brennan’s
Signature Cocktail: Caribbean Milk Punch, their take on the classic creamy sip, with Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, heavy cream and vanilla bean.
Lagniappe: The Roost’s name refers to the nostalgic rooster logo that represents “Breakfast at Brennan’s, a fabulous start to the day; the bar’s tables are actually embedded with crushed egg shells. “Pull up an ostrich leather stool under the bird’s nest lanterns at the bar for a front row look at the making of these frothy and smooth eye openers,” says a rep for the restaurant. “Or opt to experience The Sazerac Project, a custom build-your-own of the traditional favorite where guests are offered a choice of various ryes, absinthe and bitters.” On Friday at 5pm, a Champagne sabering in the courtyard kicks off happy hour.
French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s
Signature Cocktail: French 75, with Cognac, lemon juice, simple syrup and Champagne. “It was named after a French artillery piece and originally created with Cognac,” explains co-owner Katy Casbarian, who adds that after The Savoy Cocktail Book listed it with gin, most adopted this preparation. “As the French 75 Bar has become more and more popular, so has our preparation, and I think that is why it is seen that way in New Orleans and other areas of the world.”
Lagniappe: The building has been used for several purposes, including a gentleman’s only bar and a smoking-only bar. It was renamed in 2003 by current owners the Casbarian family, for the original founders’ daughter Germaine’s favorite cocktail. “The moment you step through the doors at the French 75 Bar, you’re transported to a different place and time,” says Casbarian.
Signature Cocktail: Pimm’s Cup, with Pimm’s No. 1, lemonade, 7-Up and cucumber. Napoleon House sells the most Pimm’s No. 1 in the country, and the second most in the world.
Lagniappe: Nicholas Girod, mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815, was the building’s first resident. He offered up his residence to Napoleon in 1821 during his exile; the French leader never made it there, but the name stuck. “The deeply patinated walls, uneven tile floors, and old wooden bar, hollowed by countless signature Pimm’s Cups, speaks to its many decades of service and exudes the captivating charisma of New Orleans,” says a rep for the restaurant. “Bar-goers can still expect a soundtrack of classical music and the best muffulettas in town.”
Signature Cocktail: Sazerac, which in 2008 was named the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana Legislature, with Sazerac Rye Whiskey, simple syrup and Peychaud’s Bitters.
Lagniappe: The 25 seats of the rotating Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone have been spinning for 65 years. Whimsical, colorful and fun, it’s the spot to see and be seen, especially in July when Tales of the Cocktail has its home base at the hotel.
Signature Cocktail: The Saint 75, with Tanqueray Gin, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, crushed citrus and basil syrup. “It’s a well-rounded and balanced cocktail,” explains bar chef Ferrel Dugas. “It’s great as an eye-opener–we do love day drinking in New Orleans–but any other time as well.”
Lagniappe: At Commander’s Palace, Guests walk through the kitchen on the way to the bar. “We cook with a lot of alcohol, and the bartenders also use a lot of ingredients from the kitchen,” notes Dugas.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is CSX’s editor-in-chief. She can be reached by email at kelly@drinkCSX.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.