What better way to kick off this blog than a post about New Orleans bars !
New Orleans is a town filled with bars. Do a quick internet search and you’ll find many ‘Best Bars in . . .’ articles as actual bars (well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration !). Well, this is my list of my favorite NOLA bars. For a different twist on the topic, I’ve organized it not ‘Top 10’ style but by the time of day.
In true New Orleans fashion, I like to have a drink before brunch so, I wander over to Café Soule on St. Louis St. The atmosphere is relaxed and in good weather they open the arched front to the bar and dining room. My favorite is the Bloody Mary, made with their own spicy mixer but, they make a great Mimosa and Bellini as well.
After brunch, There are several bars I might drift in and out of on a weekend afternoon but, my stops usually involve music and I always find myself at The Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchmen’s St. Frenchmen’s St. is considered the real heart of the music scene in New Orleans and Spotted Cat is right in the center. Many bands have recorded live albums here. It’s not fancy; you go for the atmosphere and the music. And the Abita Amber is cold!
After catching a set from my favorite, The Shotgun Jazz Band, over on Frenchmen’s Street (that’s another post for another time!) I wander back in the direction of the French Quarter and Bourbon St. Even this early, Bourbon St can be mobbed and I like to find somewhere out of the way to get away from the crowd and the heat.
Erin Rose, a half block off Bourbon on Conti St. fits the bill. Small, dark and cool with a local bar feel it’s likely to have more locals than tourists.
After dinner, I want to have a quiet drink before venturing into the Bourbon St. madness. The Hermes Bar on St. Louis St. (right next to Antoine’s restaurant, how convenient!) is my selection. With a classy interior of dark wood and white and black tiled floors, it’s reminiscent of late 19th century. Great place for a Sazerac (the official drink of New Orleans) or a French 75!
You have to experience Bourbon St. at night. You can’t go to New Orleans and not wander through that crowd and noise and light. After so long a time, I still join that great show flowing along Bourbon.
When I want to take a break, I go to Fritzel’s European Jazz Club. Jazz once held sway over the music scene on Bourbon. It has since been nudged to the side by Rock, Blues, Funk, Reggae, etc. blaring from every bar along the street.
Not so at Fritzels! Fritzels continues to bring the best local jazz bands to play. The 7 to 9 set usually features a local band then at nine the house band takes over. You’ll hear New Orleans jazz as good as anywhere.
They cram them in at Fritzels but, the décor is eclectic and the acoustics are great. Drink prices, even during the one drink minimum music sets, are reasonable.
Honorable Mention: Maison Bourbon, just a half a block away on Bourbon has great jazz as well. Worth the time to see a set from their headliner, Jamil Sharif.
After a night in the flow of humanity on Bourbon St. I like to retire to the Bourbon O! Bar in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. The bar fronts on to Bourbon St. so you can find a window seat and people watch while enjoying a superbly crafted drink. Bourbon Oh! has joined some other bars in taking the art of bartending into the realm of mixology. It’s a treat to watch them prepare drinks, all made with fresh in-house made mixers. Try a Sour Mash Mint Julep and enjoy the show as they muddle fresh mint in the glass before adding real sour mash whiskey! Drinks here aren’t cheap but they’re worth it!
Well, there you have it, that’s my list of my Favorite New Orleans bars. I go to others (yet another blog post!) but, I more often than not find my way back to these favorites.
What do you think? Have favorites of your own?