Where to Drink
Six famous cocktails invented in New Orleans
Nobody in town agrees about who invented New Orleans’s most famous cocktail, the Sazerac (pictured). Most bartenders take pride in their version. Try one by alchemist Alan Walter at Bar Loa, who’ll mix the potion from behind his weathered copper bar. A swish niche within the artsy International House hotel, Bar Loa creates its Sazerac with a blend of house-made herbal infusions, Peychaud and rye whiskey. It arrives in a vintage cut-crystal glass.
Call it the Cirque de Nola. Possibly New Orleans’s most de rigueur stop, the Carousel Bar spins amid the historic interiors of the Hotel Monteleone. Slow-moving, it holds just 25 coveted seats. This colorful merry-go-round takes credit for inventing the Vieux Carré, an intricate fusion of rye whiskey and cognac.
The Pimm’s Cup
Two centuries ago, Napoleon House was named in honor of the French emperor, who, according to hearsay, once nipped at the bar. A slightly worn and decidedly colorful watering hole, Napoleon House emits a timeless Big Easy vibe. Some say the walls have stories to tell; listen for them after your first gulp of their speciality, the Pimm’s Cup. A blend of gin and lemonade, it features a bounty of fruit.
“Welcome to the party” has been the motto at Pat O’Brien’s since 1933. While the revelers have changed over the decades, their drink of choice at this multiroom pub has not. The Hurricane, a potent concoction of rums and fruit juices served in a huge glass in the shape of a hurricane lamp, remains the perfect refreshment to the background sounds of the bar’s dueling pianos, or in its courtyard. Take one to go on the way out—that’s part of the fun.
Ramos Gin Fizz
Controversial former Governor of Louisiana Huey Long called the Roosevelt Hotel’s tony Sazerac Bar his official living room. Naturally that was the place the quirky figurehead preferred to gulp his favorite adult beverage: the Ramos Gin Fizz. A complicated blend of cream, egg whites, orange flower water and gin, this libation takes longer to make than most. Sit down in one of Sazerac’s Art Deco sofas and enjoy the wait.
A French 75 comprises refreshing lemon juice, champagne and cognac, offered in a slim flute. Taste it (appropriately) at The French 75, a vintage-intoned hideaway that dates from the late 19th century. Adjacent to the famed Arnaud’s, this onetime ‘gentlemen only’ club boasts vintage tile floors and a formidable wooden back bar. Expert barman Chris Hannah’s tenure here rocketed this diminutive spot to a top bar-buff’s destination.