Tales of the Cocktail is the biggest annual event in the world for spirit and cocktail nerds like me, but there’s of course lots more to see and do when you’re in a city as unique as New Orleans. So, even though I only had a few days to spend and lots of festival tastings, seminars and other happenings in my calendar, I decided to do a little cocktail bar sightseeing too – after all, it was my first time in The Big Easy! As you’ll shortly notice, many of the best bars – Cure, Bellocq etc. – aren’t mentioned, and that’s because my schedule was so busy I didn’t have time to visit nearly as many bars as I had hoped to. I also need to try out the classic bars on Bourbon Street – like Pat O’Brien’s, Old Absinthe House and so on, just for the sake of it – as if I need another reason for going back this summer…
|View of New Orleans from the top of Hotel Monteleone|
Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone
214 Royal Street
I went to this beautiful bar during Tanqueray First Drink of the Night and had myself some delicious gin drinks courtesy of brand ambassadors Angus Winchester and Rachel Ford. Like the same suggests, the 25 seat bar actually looks and rotates like a carousel, which is pretty neat. The bar has got a very nice ambiance, and you can feel the history in the walls. I can’t really say anything about the service or the regular cocktail menu, though – but I’ll make sure to put them to the test next time.
|Arnaud’s French 75 Bar|
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
813 Rue Bienville
I continued to another event, Imbibe Happy Hour, where Tales of the Cocktails’ 10th anniversary was celebrated with the delicious drink A Telling Tale by resident bartender Chris Hannah. For those of you who missed out (it disappeared quickly), here’s the recipe:
60 ml Four Roses bourbon
15 ml Campari
15 ml grenadine
7 fresh mint leaves
7,5 ml fresh lemon juice
60 ml sparkling wine
Combine all ingredients, except sparkling wine, and shake with ice. Strain into an ice-filled wine glass, top with sparkling wine and garnish with a mint sprig.
Arnaud’s opened in 1918, but even though the interiors of the French 75 Bar is from the late 19th century (bought from an antiques dealer), the bar area was added to the restaurant as late as 1979 during a renovation. In 2003 it took its present form and name and has ever since been one of the top cocktail destinations in New Orleans. As with Carousel Bar, I need another visit to explore the regular menu and not only a pre-batched anniversary cocktail.
625 Chartres Street
A casual and lively, quite newly opened, modern American restaurant and bar off the beaten path of the French Quarters, with a short and ambitious cocktail menu. During my visit I found both Sam Ross (Milk & Honey/Attaboy) and Martin Cate (Smuggler’s Cove) enjoying their tipples, which is a good sign. Highly recommended.
|Tru Kick at Bar Tonique|
820 North Rampart Street
Even further from the madness of Bourbon Street, I found myself at Bar Tonique which is a laid-back neighbourhood bar with a nice selection of craft cocktails. Try their simple yet amazing signature drink TRU Kick with TRU Organic Gin, house-made ginger syrup, lemon and lime juice and Fee Brothers Peach Bitters.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
1104 Decatur Street
You’re probably thinking “what the fxxk!?”, and rightfully so. However, don’t ask me why but I have a soft spot for cheesy places, and I couldn’t resist the urge to make a quick stop for a Margarita – since I stumbled upon it on the way to our apartment.
I went to the bar – or Storyville Tavern as they call it – and tried their house Margarita Who’s to Blame. As I suspected, it wasn’t worth it, but at least now I’ve tried it and won’t need to visit again. Nevertheless, for some reason I felt the urge again a few weeks ago in Key West…
|The mayhem of Bourbon Street|