There are many great things about New Orleans but my favorite trait is the rich cocktail history. A few weekends ago I took a short weekend trip to celebrate my brothers 21's birthday with the family. It was my first time to the city so I of course did some extensive research on what this city was all about. To sum it up quickly this city likes to drink! Now that's my kind of city! So today I am giving you a New Orleans cocktail bucket list. Where to go and what to order when you get there!
I took my family on this tour and my dad and I had a blast enjoying all of the different cocktails while my brother and his friends drank bud lights (ohhh to be 21) and my mom enjoyed a coffee or cocktail when it felt right. We did not go in this order because we didn't have this handy map BUT looking at all of the locations this is definitely how I would walk around the city if I did it a second time, and I probably will.
1. The Sazerac at The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel
The Roosevelt hotel and the Sazerac cocktail compete in a secret battle to see who is more classic. They both win. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't know to walk all the way to the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel. I stopped at the first bar and asked for a sazerac. However, I wandered to the bar and so so wish that I wouldn't have been so absent minded. I tell you of my mistake so that you don't make it yourself. The reason you must try the sazerac - even if you aren't a whiskey fan - is because it is the first cocktail in American history. It was actually one of my favorite cocktails on this tour for it's delicate balance of whiskey and bitters and will be the first stop I make the next time I make it to New Orleans. If you really don't want to try a whiskey cocktail you should at least check out the hotel, which was actually mentioned in a book about F. Scott Fitzgerald that I read recently.
2. Brandy Milk Punch at The Bourbon House
The brandy milk punch is a must have for brunch in New Orleans. I actually enjoyed mine, much to my fathers chagrin, at Broussard's because there were a lot of to-do's on the list for the day and I had to pick and chose my battles. My dad was just upset we weren't making our way to the official location. I am a huge fan of a White Russian so I had a sneaky suspicion that I would enjoy the brandy milk punch and I very much did. It almost had a chocolate like taste to it but maybe that was just my imagination!
3. Vieux Carre at The Carousel Bar
I honestly wished I could live in the lobby of Hotel Monteleone where the Carousel Bar is located. Again if you aren't a whiskey fan you MUST take a stroll over to the Carousel Bar for the pure fun fact that the bar is an actual carousel that very slowly spins around. I mean, come on that is just a little too much fun, am I right?! Not surprisingly, this was my dads favorite cocktail on our tour. Which is probably a sign that if you are a big fan of the Manhattan then this will be one of your favorites on the tour as well.
4. Absinthe Frappe at Old Absinthe House
I actually did not get to stop at the Old Absinthe House while in New Orleans but it is on my list if I ever go back and thus I am putting it on your list. The only other time I have tried absinthe was while I was studying abroad in college. We had taken a weekend trip to Spain and one of the girls had purchased a bottle of Absinthe for fun. If you go let me know your thoughts because i'm sad I ran out of time to enjoy this one!
5. French 75 at Arnaud's French 75
If you are both a champagne lover and a lover of citrus then you will enjoy the French 75. Again be a good sport if the non whiskey lovers are taking a change on the Sazerac and the Vieux Carre then I think you can enjoy a little bubbly for sake of trying a classic. We're being cultured here! Try it so that you can say you had a french 75 at THE French 75. IMPORTANT NOTE: Arnaud's has odd hours so we were not able to enjoy our French 75 at the intended location but I would highly recommend you check the times and altar your course in any necessary way to make this stop happen!
6. Ramos Gin Fizz at Broussard's
The Ramos Gin Fizz is a delicious drink but I could definitely only stomach one. Granted, I enjoyed this cocktail after I had tried the brandy milk punch which was a little heavier of a cocktail due to the milk. Now, the ramos gin fizz has an egg white in it so that could add to it as well. However I very much enjoyed this cocktail. Personally, I thought it tasted a lot like sorbet which must be due to the lemon and lime juice that are added to it. My mom thought it tasted similar to the brandy milk punch but I was insistent that she was losing it!
7. Frozen Irish Coffee at Erin Rose
This may seem silly next to the classics on this list but the frozen irish coffee was one of the best drinks I had during my time in New Orleans. It hit the spot on a slightly warm day and was as smooth as it was delicious. I honestly dream about this beverage. Yes, that's crazy but just try and it and tell me that you also aren't staying up at night trying to find out what the ingredients are!
8. Parakeet Nordine at SoBou
This was not on my original list when on our self made tour. But while we were walking along SoBou had a well placed sign outside their bar claiming to have the BEST cocktail in America. So of course we had to take a stop inside. The cocktail did not live up to the hype, but how could it after the Vieux Carres and pimms cup that we had just enjoyed. However, I am keeping it in here for you because it was a fun bar and surely they will have a cocktail on their menu that will please you! And if memory serves they had some crazy $0.25 martini deal during happy hour or something? Don't quote me on that but it was a great deal, whatever it was!
9. Pimms Cup at The Napoleon House
Be careful when trying to find the Napoleon House. I walked right past it so thankfully my parents knew where we were going. The pimms cup was a little sweet, but we had tried the Vieux Carre right before this so that definitely was a shock to the taste buds. However it's a classic and a must at the napoleon house.
10. Hurricane at Pat O'Brien
So maybe not a classic in the way of the sazerac but it is a damn fun drink. I highly recommend only drinking one or even sharing it but hey it's what they are known for so why now enjoy a favorite! Live a little - you are on vacation!
11. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar AKA the oldest bar in New Orleans and Possibly America
The first night we were in town we were casually walking down Bourbon street. My parents had been to New Orleans a year before this and had gone to this bar so they wanted to show us the bar that claims to be the oldest in America. You definitely walk PAST the neon signs to a less touristy part of the street. But you can tell the bar is known the moment you walk in. As far as I know there wasn't a must have or original cocktail here, but it's worth the jaunt to get a little culture after the less than cultural hurricane. The bar is lit only by candles in an effort to keep it's historic charm.
Now before you head to New Orleans call me because I fell in love with this city, its culture and, of course, its cocktails!
Safe travels while you put those purses down and bottoms up!