Before our recent trip to New Orleans, everyone had a suggestion of a bar we had to try. Not only that, each bar had a specific reason to visit it. So by the time we finished the list, we could have spent the whole time in the city walking from bar to bar and still not have time to try them all. Our plans included other activities besides drinking, so there was no way we could complete the list in five days.
That doesn’t mean that we didn’t try.
We wanted to remember our trip, so we practiced moderation of our intake, as best as one can do when in a city where open containers are allowed on the streets. Here’s our list of places we stopped and our thoughts of each one (as much as I can remember). I’m gonna go in order of when we visited, cause the only notes I have are my pictures and our Facebook timelines. I have no doubt that there were dozens of places we should have gone instead. Oh well, there’s always next time.
The Carousel Bar
214 Royal Street
The Carousel at the Hotel Monteleone Bar was installed in 1949. You grab a seat at the bar and ride around at one revolution per fifteen minutes. It took us a while to find two seats on a Tuesday night so I’d imagine it would be a longer wait on weekends. At 8:30pm, a band started to play in the adjoining room but you can’t really hear them that well if you’re sitting on the carousel.
We found out the carousel has no door for the bartenders to get behind the bar. So they have to jump over the bar every time they need to enter and exit. Good way to exercise while at work!
500 Chartres Street
The 200 year old building the Napoleon House resides in would be reason enough for us to visit. It’s been owned and operated by the same family since 1914, and it looks it. This place wasn’t designed to look old, it’s just old.
The bar inside is really tiny, with a few barstools. We just popped in for a drink just before the lunchtime rush but we were given a table anyway.
I tried the Pimm’s Cup (a drink the Napoleon House is famous for), Sharon had a Dark and Stormy and our friend Pat ordered Bud Light.
After we finished our drinks, we headed to see the Pharmacy museum next door. When our tour was over, it was pouring rain and we were hungry, so we found the nearest restaurant.
The Original Pierre Maspero’s
440 Chartres Street
It seems like every building in New Orleans has a history. This structure was built in 1788 and it looked it. It was quiet when we were there because it was in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday and it was still pouring rain outside.
While this is more of a restaurant, they do have a really large bar area and it was quite busy on other evenings when we walked by. Time to try a hurricane.
The hurricane here was really good. We got Pat to switch from Bud Light to a Dixie and Sharon went with the Abita Amber.
301 N. Peters Street
Located Above Felipe’s French Quarter
Sharon has a current obsession about tiki bars, or tiki mugs to be accurate. I must have heard over 10 times before the trip “You know there’s a Tiki Bar in New Orleans.” (Note from Sharon: Shut up, Joe. And did I mention we need more space for tiki mugs?)
We went more for the mug than the drinks. I can’t even remember what I ordered. Mine was on the right, Sharon’s on the left.
The next day we took it easy. The only place we stopped for drinks was at the beginning and end of our ghost tour.
Pirate’s Alley Cafe
622 Pirates Ally
Located just off of Jackson Square in an alley, this is your typical corner pirate dive bar that serves Absinthe. Not much else to know. I tried an Absinthe Sazerac which was tasty. No pics of the drinks, sorry.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
940 Bourbon Street
This bar may be on Bourbon Street, but it’s far enough away from the bustle and tourist neon lights where it can hold its own.
The building dates to somewhere between 1722 and 1732. It has everything. Uneven floors, cheap, strong drinks, a mixture of locals and tourists, crumbling walls, a CD jukebox, pirate history, TVs and of course, ghost stories. On a busy night there will be a large crowd milling around outside.
When re-reading this, I feel that for a moment I was channeling Stefon.
Just beware, single drinks here are at least doubles and doubles are, well they’re more than doubles. There’s only one “frozen drink” on the menu served “Fat Tuesday” style from a dispenser called the Voodoo Daiquiri. It tasted like a grape popsicle and as far as frozen drinks go, it wasn’t bad. This was a fun place to go, grab a drink and people watch outside.
310 Chartres Street
This is the restaurant at the W Hotel where we stayed. I’m adding it to the bar list because I’d strongly suggest stopping in just for a drink. The bartenders here were some of the best of anywhere in town.
The Taylor Bird Sazerac was wonderful but the most interesting drink was the Honey Buzz Milk Punch featuring Honey Nut Cheerio infused rum, honey syrup, holiday pie bitters and milk. And it’s topped with Honey Nut Cheerios.
718 St Peter
Home of the Hurricane. Home of the crowds. Mecca for every tourist visiting New Orleans. OK, we went here. It was everything I expected. We ordered a round of Hurricanes, which we were told came in signature glasses that we could keep. If we didn’t want the glass, we’d have to go back to the bar and get our money back.
Now I imagine there are plenty of people who want the glass but I don’t want to remember my iced-down Kool-Aid sweet beverage enough to stare at a glass for the rest of my life. If you want to go to Pat O’Briens, just stick to a regular drink and enjoy the ambience of the courtyard or the fun in the piano bar. Save the Hurricane for somewhere else.
I don’t think we did do too badly in hitting the bars of New Orleans. There were other places we could visit and we kept getting suggestions even when we were in town. I guess there’s always a next time. The one thing I learned was that the farther away you got from the craziness of Bourbon Street, the better the bars were.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary