New Orleans Cocktail Culture: Celebrate the Sazerac and More

New Orleans, Louisiana USA- Jan 23 2016: Pubs and Bars having colorful lights and decorations in the French Quarter. Tourism provides a much needed financial source, also home for great many musicians.

Can you think of a city more filled with history, tradition and wonder than New Orleans? We’re not just talking about Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest. At least not in general. The NOLA we’re talking about is the down and delicious. Join us as we dig in to the Big Easy – deep down to the rich classic food and the classic New Orleans cocktails.

We will be there for Tales of the Cocktail, a spirits event for bartenders, distillers, and other industry specialists. In advance of this “all work / no play” (yeah, right) trip we thought we’d gather the “must dos” and “can’t misses” so that no meal is overlooked and no cocktail is skipped.

Come along with us on our whirlwind tour of the French Quarter as we discover New Orleans cocktails suitable for every meal.

Breakfast – Skip the Hurricane

We are kicking off our tour bright and early – 10 am is early when you’re traveling – at Erin Rose on Conti Street for Frozen Irish Coffee. Sip the famous libation in the bar that was once a single-family French Quarter home. Converted to a pub in the 1950s, it’s been touted as a “Best Bar in America” by Esquire Magazine and made the “can’t miss” lists for Thrillist and Imbibe Magazine. Whether is 10 am or 10 pm, Erin Rose’s Frozen Irish Coffee will fix whatever needs fixing. Or it’ll simply cool you off on a humid NOLA day.

New Orleans Cocktails and Beignets

Mid-Morning Snack – Because…Beignets

It’s true. We said this tour was focused on finding New Orleans cocktails for any meal. But it’s NOLA, so we must “beignet”. We’re all about trying new things and doing our best to step off the beaten path. However, we can’t do this day without hitting up the quintessential beignet bakery Café Du Monde at the French Market on Decatur Street. Beignets are square French-style doughnuts, lovingly doused in powdered sugar. Consider them the sugar-rush you need to get to the next hot spot on the list.

Lunch – It’s Time for New Orleans Cocktails

You haven’t had a drink since breakfast. It’s time to settle in for a Pimm’s Cup at the Napoleon House on Chartres Street. This 200-year-old historical landmark will send you back in time. Story has it that the home was offered as refuge to Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile in 1812. While Napoleon never actually hid out here, it became a haven for artists and writers during the 20th century. And now, it’s the ideal location for weary NOLA revelers to have an Italian Muffalata (a house specialty) and a Pimm’s Cup. The Pimm’s Cup is a refreshing cocktail made from gin, fresh lemonade, 7-Up, and a slice of cucumber. Use this stop as a chance to gather yourself before heading off to happy hour.

Happy Hour – A Shucking Good Time

You’ve been wandering the Big Easy since 10 am. You’ve tasted some tantalizing New Orleans cocktails and dined on dynamic dishes. But this might be the best part of the day. The Acme House has served chargrilled oysters on Iberville Street since 1920 after their original location on Royal Street burned down. When in NOLA, do as the locals and order up a dozen oysters the Acme way – grilled, doused in herbed butter sauce, and sprinkled with a special cheese blend. Make sure to save room for dinner. It’s just around the corner.

escargot plate New Orleans

Dinner – Sip and Sit

On Saint Louis Street sits the country’s oldest family-owned restaurant, Antoine’s. Take a seat in one of their historic dining rooms (or schedule a private tour) and enjoy a traditional French-Creole meal. The menu boasts original recipes such as Oysters Rockefeller and classic French fine-dining plates like Escargots a la Bordelaise. We don’t know about you, but all this walking and eating makes us thirsty. Order an Antoine’s Smile, a sweet concoction of Calvados, lemon juice, simple syrup, and grenadine. If that’s too sweet, try a Sazerac, the oldest known American cocktail, combining Cognac, absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters, and sugar.

After Dinner Drinks – After Dinner, It’s the After Party

Originally a “gentlemen only” bar, the French 75 at Arnaud’s Restaurant is vintage now only in its menu of classic cocktails. We suggest ordering a French 75, naturally. It’s a gorgeous glass of Courvoisier VS, sugar, lemon juice, and champagne. While it seems unassuming, it’s been said that the French 75 packs the punch of a French 75mm field gun. French 75 (the bar, not the drink) has a robust and varied menu for late night noshes – just in case you’re still hungry.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

Late Night Cocktails – The Final Stop on the Tour

Seems like every spot in NOLA has a story, and the final stop on our New Orleans cocktails tour is no exception. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar on Bourbon Street has a story as long as our day. Built in the 1720s, the building survived 2 fires and was rumored at one time to be a stateside base for the Lafitte brothers smuggling operation. It’s fitting that this is where we end our night, sipping a truly touristy drink that packs a potent punch, the Voodoo Daiquiri. This not-so-surprisingly dangerous cocktail is an adults-only grape slushie with Everclear and bourbon. They don’t call it the “night-ender” for nothing. And on that note – goodnight.

Still Standing?

We’re headed to bed for the night. Thanks for joining us on our tour of NOLA. For additional city tours with recipes and more, sign up for our newsletter and bring the trip straight to you!

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