Food & drink, culture & frivolity abound in the city that knows how to let the good times roll
By Cheryl Charming
(All photographs courtesy of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau unless otherwise noted)
For the past five years I have attended Tales of the Cocktail (www.talesofthecocktail.com) as a personality, author, seminar panelist, and moderator and each year I roam around the streets not really knowing where to go or what to see and taste. Well, I moved to the French Quarter in October of 2010 and now have a bit more information, so I thought I’d share it with you.
Below, is a little NOLA visitors guide to help Tales of the Cocktail visitors trek around the French Quarter and other parts of New Orleans. If you’ve never been to Tales then this will serve you well. If you are a return attendee then you might see something new. I hope you enjoy the information I’ve gathered. Also, if you have information you feel I should include, correct, etc. just Facebook email me.
FYI – This year I’m tending bar at The Bombay Club (830 Conti [CON-tie] – one block from Bourbon www.thebombayclub.com) Tuesday through Saturday. I work with a great bartender named Steven Lemley. In the 31 years I’ve tended bar, he is the best bartender I’ve ever worked with. It would be our pleasure to serve you. We open at 4 pm, offer live entertainment 7 nights a week, and have a wonderful food menu (our chef, Rickey Cheramie trained under Emeril Lagasse at Commander’s Palace).
If you have not reserved a Spirited Dinner for Thursday night, then you should know that we have Maine lobster night on Thursdays for only $25. It includes a 1-½ lb full lobster, salad, and a side. You must have reservations because we fly in the live lobsters based on reservations. On Friday we have entertainer, Judy Spellman and she’s great at getting the crowd going. On Saturday night we have the incredible Luther Kent (www.lutherkent.com) singing the blues. He use to be the lead singer for Blood, Sweat, & Tears in the 1970s. Starts at 9:30pm. I’ll probably be slammed those nights, so I won’t have much time to talk…but it should be fun to watch me in the weeds, lol.
BASIC NOLA INFORMATION
• The French Quarter (Vieux Carré [VOH- care-eh]/Old Square) is only 6 blocks X 12 blocks. It was the very first part of land built upon in the 1700s.
• There are four streets that border the French Quarter. Canal, Rampart, Esplanade, and Decatur/Mississippi River.
– Cross over Esplanade and you enter the Marigny Triangle and the best place to visit is Frenchman street. This area is where the locals go for drinks, food, and entertainment. The best way to get there is a cab or walk East straight down Decatur.
– Cross over Canal and you’ll enter a business type atmosphere, but there are bars of interest to visit.
– Cross over Rampart and…well, DO NOT cross over Rampart on foot at night. Only go as far as Bar Tonique.
– Cross over Decatur, keep walking, and you’ll end up in the Mississippi River 🙂
• All the streets in the French Quarter are one-way. There is no need to constantly look for the one-way signs when crossing a street…just look to see which way the cars are faced.
• The sidewalks in the French Quarter are very uneven and full of holes. The best shoes to wear should have a flat sole. Heels on women are dangerous. Wedges work well, though. Also, the streets are very dirty. so if you wear open toed shoes, then expect to wash your feet often.
• Cabs are very easy to get. They roam the French Quarter streets just looking for someone to pick up. People ask me to call them a cab all the time at The Bombay Club and I let them know that all they have to do is walk to the corner and one will go by every minute. If you are going to use a credit card then ask before getting in because some do not take credit cards.
• Banks/ATM. On both corners of The Hotel Monteleone there are two full service banks with ATM’s; Chase and Capital One.
NOTE: When you cross over Canal from the French Quarter the street names change. Here is the list:
Decatur to Magazine
Chartres to Camp
Royal to St. Charles
Bourbon to Carondolet
Dauphine to Baronne
Burgundy to University Place
North Rampart to South Rampart
TOP THRIFTY THINGS TO DO IN NOLA
Buy a NOLA Drink Deck! (www.thedrinkdeck.com)
This is a deck of cards with a bar on each card. Each card gets you a varied amount of discounts at each bar (20% off at the Bombay Club). You can purchase the Nola Drink Deck for $29.99 here.
Free Tales of the Cocktail 2011 App
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can download the Tales App for free. It shows all the events, seminars, people, etc.
Miss Trivia (www.misscharming.com/app)
Download my drink trivia App, Miss Trivia for only 99 cents and have fun playing while in Nola. More information here.
Tales of the Cocktail tasting rooms
From Wednesday July 20th to Sunday July 24th there are 5 free tasting rooms at the Hotel Monteleone (the hub hotel for Tales www.hotelmonteleone.com). They start around 10:30am and go to 6pm. The schedule is here (www.talesofthecocktail.com/functions/totc_nola_2011/quo/tasting_rooms
Tales of the Cocktail complimentary events
There are 22 complimentary Tales of the Cocktail events. They are here. (www.talesofthecocktail.com/functions/totc_nola_2011/quo/complimentary_events)
La Gallerie d’Absinthe
From Tuesday July 19th – Sunday July 24th the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will have the largest collection of Absinthe artifacts in the United States, complete with spoons, recipes, fountains and more from the personal collection of Raymond and B.J. Bordelon. $10. The event page is here. www.talesofthecocktail.com/functions/totc_nola_2011/quo/special_events/la_gallerie_dabsinthe
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum Aqua Vitale: The Spirited History of Alcohol as Medicine
From Tuesday July 19th to Saturday July 23rd from 10am-1pm you can visit the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum for only $5. The event page is here. www.talesofthecocktail.com/functions/totc_nola_2011/quo/special_events/2011_new_orleans_pharmacy_museum
Tales of the Cocktail Special Events
All the special events can be found here. (www.talesofthecocktail.com/functions/totc_nola_2011/quo/complimentary_events)
Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse Midnight Burlesque Show (www.irvinmayfield.com)
Normally, every Friday night at midnight inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel (300 Bourbon Street) there is a free burlesque show. But during Tales week they are doing it on Wednesday night. I highly recommend making reservations so you can get a table. Call 504-553-2331.
Canal Street Ferry
Ride the Canal Street Ferry for free to Algiers Point and see the New Orleans skyline. The ferry runs every day from 6 am – 12:15 am, and departs from the New Orleans side at :15 and :45 past the hour. You can board the ferry, which has been in operation since 1827, at the foot of Canal Street – right next to the Aquarium. It departs from the other side on the hour and :30 past the hour. On the Algiers Point side there is a residential neighborhood that survived Hurricane Katrina entirely, and has preserved much of its original 19th century village charm. Grab a bite at any of the nearby cafes and pubs, stroll the Jazz Walk of Fame along the levee, or take a self-guided walking tour – see the Algiers Historical Society for information on tours and the neighborhood here.
Free oysters at Le Bon Temps Roule Bar
The Le Bon Temps Roule Bar at 4801 Magazine Street offers free oysters every Friday.
New Orleans Museum of Art (www.noma.org)
The New Orleans Museum of Art at 1 Collins Diboll Circle in City Park is free every Wednesday.
Commander’s Palace 25 cent Martinis (www.commanderspalace.com)
Yep, they have 25 cent Martinis. Never had one and don’t know the details, but you can call them at 504-899-8221.
Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum
Upstairs at Arnaud’s [r-NOSE. www.arnaudsrestaurant.com] at 813 Bienville Street there is a free museum that brings together more than two dozen lavish Mardi Gras costumes, including 13 of Mrs. Wells’ queen costumes, one of her mother’s and one of her daughter’s, as well as four king’s costumes worn by Count Arnaud, and six children’s costumes. Just go through the French 75 bar and ask master mixologist, Chris Hannah about it…oh, and finish by having a cocktail with Chris. He’s working Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday during Tales.
If you go to Antoine’s (713 St. Louis Street www.antoines.com) and ask for a tour of their 160 year old restaurant then they will grant you this wish for free.
Café du Monde Beignets
You can see beignets being made through the kitchen window at Cafe’ du Monde (800 Decatur Street) in Dutch Alley.
Ride a Nola Streetcar
The streetcars cost only $1.25 (have some quarters on you). Here is more information and maps for you. I highly recommend seeing St. Charles Street.
Visit the Musee Conti Wax Museum
The Musee Conti Wax Museum (917 Conti Street. www.neworleanswaxmuseum.com) is only open Monday, Friday, and Saturday from 10am – 4pm. It costs $7. I live directly across the street from the museum (the balcony with the long black sheers). However, I have never visited the museum, but I watch parties and special events from my balcony often. One of the employees gives me a weekly bottle of wine left over from events. Their website says; Enter the fascinating world of the French Creoles as the story of New Orleans unfolds before your eyes. Beautiful costumes, accurate décor, and unbelievable stories are woven into a history unlike any other city! Begin 300 years ago as you meet our local legends: Iberville and Bienville discovering the swampy city, the duc d’Orleans planning New Orleans, the casket girls, Napoleon as he sells Louisiana, Jean Lafitte the pirate, Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans, Marie Laveau and her voodoo dancers, Mardi Gras Zulu King Weatherspoon, Louis Armstrong and Pete Fountain. Plus the eerie Haunted Dungeon!
Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar
If you come to Tales early then Lucy’s at 701 Tchoupittoulas [CHOP-uh-TOO-lus] is having a huge Luau Block Party on Saturday July 16th from noon until the wee hours of the morning.
Old New Orleans Rum: A Summer Rumble (www.neworleansrum.com)
Also on Saturday the 16th there’s another fun event. Old New Orleans Rum is the ONLY spirit actually made in New Orleans and they are having a Summer Rumble at their distillery. \
The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org) has teamed up with five Nola bars offering MOTAC bucks. Simply buy the special cocktail the bar has created and the bartender will give you MOTAC Bucks that gets you $3 off admission to the museum. Regular admission is $10. The participating bars are: The Bombay Club, Swizzle Stick Bar, Cure, Dominique’s on Magazine and Polo Club at Windsor Court.
The Bombay Club Gold Card (www.thebombayclub.com)
The only bar in Nola with a punch card. Your free gold card gets punched when you purchase a cocktail, glass of wine (4 punches for a bottle), or appetizer. After 9 punches the 10th of your choice is free.
The Bombay Club Pierre Ferrand Staff Training
A few months ago we scheduled a Pierre Ferrand (www.pierreferrandcognac.com) staff training and just realized it fell during Tales week. We are making the training free to all who would like to learn more about Pierre Ferrand and Citadelle Gin. Starts at 4:30pm Thursday, July 21st.
The Bombay Club Lobster Night
Through the summer, The Bombay Club (830 Conti) has lobster night every Thursday. For $25, you get a 1-½ lb full lobster, salad, and a side. You must have a reservation because we fly in the live lobsters based on reservations. Call 504-586-0972. Oh, the live entertainment starts at 8pm.
BARS OF INTEREST
Craft Cocktail Bars
4905 Freret Street (you’ll have to cab it).
Voted the best bar in New Orleans from many media sources. Opens at 5pm nightly. Rhiannon Enil will be behind the bar on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday during Tales. On Sunday, Cure invites all the Tales apprentices to rotate through their guest well spending a few minutes making drinks. Maks will be returning from Brooklyn to help curate the guest well. Also, Cure is participating in the Museum of the American Cocktail MOTAC Bucks promotion.
Bar Tonique (www.bartonique.com)
820 North Rampart Street (French Quarter)
Bartender Michelle Reeves (wife of Murph Reeves at Sylvain) is behind the bar on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday during Tales. She’s offering 25% off your tab after 11pm. They are open 2pm-2am.
625 Chartres [CHART-ers] Street (French Quarter)
Say hi to Murph Reeves!
321 North Peters Street (French Quarter)
Bar sister friend, Sharon Floyd will be working Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday during Tales 5pm until. She’s featuring the winning VeeV cocktail with a pretty cool installment of WoolyPockets in the courtyard with growing herbs.
2800 Magazine Street (you’ll have to cab it)
Swizzle Stick Bar (www.cafeadelaide.com)
300 Poydras Street (easy walk from the French Quarter on Canal side). In Café Adelaide, which is in the Loews New Orleans Hotel. The only bar I know that has a block of ice. Bar Chef, Lu Brow is working Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday during Tales. Swizzle Stick Bar is participating in the Museum of the American Cocktail MOTAC Bucks promotion.
12 Mile Limit
500 Telemachus Street (will have to cab it). Opens at 5 pm and owner, T. Cole Newton will be working Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday during Tales. He also says that they have the best BBQ in the city.
221 Camp Street (easy walk from the French Quarter on Canal side. Inside the International House Hotel)
339 Baronne Street (Easy walk from the French Quarter on Canal side. On the French Quarter side the street is called Dauphine, but once you cross Canal the street name is Baronne. Victory, Bar Uncommon, and Domenica/Roosevelt make a one block triangle from each other). This is Daniel Victory’s bar.
Other Bars of Interest
Carousel Bar (www.hotelmonteleone.com/dining-entertainment)
214 Royal Street (French Quarter, inside the Hotel Monteleone).
Known as “the” Tales hub bar. Headed up by Marvin Allen. Note: The hotel is under a bit of construction as they are putting in street windows down to the end of the block. Even the step down area of the bar (piano and booths) is blocked off by a big black wall. But, it will be super nice for Tales 2012 (the 10th anniversary of Tales).
The Bombay Club (www.thebombayclub.com)
830 Conti Street (tucked behind the drive of the Prince Conti Hotel). Well, this is where I work. I’m the bar manager and will be behind the bar Tuesday July 19th – Saturday the 23rd during Tales. We open at 4pm and have live entertainment 7 nights a week. I’ve been revamping the bar since January 2011. I’ve rolled out a phase 1 menu (phase 2 in September) that showcases cocktails from the 1700s to present day, replaced most of the glassware with vintage ware, started a garden in the courtyard, eliminated about 20 vodkas, brought in new products, ice balls, added theme nights (Monday-MadMen, Tuesday-James Bond, and Wednesday-Silver Screen), changed the playlist to a Rat Pack(y)-Ella Fitzgerald-Billie Holiday mix, play classic films on the TV screen and some other detail touches. In the Fall I will be teaching several hands-on cocktail classes, and pairing cocktails with every appetizer and entreé on the food menus.
Everyone who visits me during Tales gets lagniappe [lan-yap] – a free gift! I have a display case full of fun cocktail related items to give away. Just reach your hand into my beautiful Champagne bucket to see what you win. The Bombay Club is participating in the Museum of the American Cocktail MOTAC Bucks promotion.
Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse (www.irvinmayfield.com)
300 Bourbon Street inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel (French Quarter)
Tiffany Soles, New Orleans Magazine “Bartender of the Year” 2010 works here, but she will be attending Tales that week. This is a beautiful room and only one of two “nice” lounges in the French Quarter with live entertainment 7 nights a week. The other one is The Bombay Club.
Bar Uncommon (www.baruncommon.com)
817 Common Street (Inside the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel. Easy walk from the French Quarter on Canal side. On the French Quarter side the street is called Dauphine, but once you cross Canal the street name is Baronne. Victory, Bar Uncommon, and Domenica/Roosevelt make a one block triangle from each other).
This is where Master Chris Mcmillian works, but he will not be there during Tales. You’ll find him and Laura Mcmillian at The Museum of the American Cocktail.
French 75 Bar (www.arnaudsrestaurant.com)
813 Bienville Street (French Quarter)
The French 75 Bar is part of Arnaud’s. It has a street entrance and headed up by Chris Hannah. It’s a beautiful little bar. You’ll fall in love with the monkey lamps. Chris will be working Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday during Tales. He opens at 5pm. Make sure you ask him about the free museum upstairs. They sell cigars and you can smoke inside the bar. The French 75 Bar and The Bombay Club is one block from Bourbon Street, one street apart and practically back to back.
Dominique’s on Magazine (www.dominiquesneworleans.com)
4729 Magazine Street (you’ll have to cab it). Kimberly Patton-Bragg heads up the bar, but she will be working at Tales of the Cocktail, so look for her there! If you visit Dominque’s, then check out her garden! Dominque’s is participating in the Museum of the American Cocktail MOTAC Bucks promotion.
123 Baronne Street (Inside the Roosevelt Hotel. Easy walk from the French Quarter on Canal side. On the French Quarter side the street is called Dauphine, but once you cross Canal the street name is Baronne. Victory, Bar Uncommon, and Domenica make a one block triangle from each other). Bartenders Michael Glassberg and Jason Lee work there. Michael Glassberg will be working Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday during Tales.
618 Frenchmen Street (Just over Esplanade). Live bands, large beer and spirit collection.
Famous NOLA Bars
• Pat O’Brien’s (www.patobriens.com)
718 Saint Peter Street (French Quarter). Without a doubt, Pat O’Brien’s is the most famous historic bar in New Orleans. My longtime friend, Scott Touchton is the General Manager.
Old Absinthe House (www.experienceneworleans.com/ruebourbon/oldabsinthehouse)
240 Bourbon Street (French Quarter). Full of history and they still have the absinthe drip fountains (non-working) on the bar. This is where EVERYONE from Tales gathers at 3am Sunday morning following Simon Ford and Audrey Saunders official/unofficial Tales wrap party The Plymouth Gin Bartender’s Breakfast www.facebook.com/event.php?eid+169882996411024 (which is at The Board of Trade this year www.neworleansbot.com). The streets in this area will be packed with Tales attendees.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (www.lafitte’sblacksmithshop.com)
941 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
Built between 1722 and 1732 and is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States.
NOSHING IN NOLA
Do you want to try the best bites and sips around Nola? No restaurant/bar has it all, but they all have that one or two dishes/cocktail that is outstanding and should be part of a Nola “must” experience. Below is what I’ve gathered from my own treks around Nola as well as what friends have told me. By the way, everyone’s gumbo and jambalaya is different. The best jambalaya that I like so far is at Pat O’Brien’s. The best gumbo?…well I haven’t found it yet.
The Bombay Club (www.thebombayclub.com)
830 Conti Street (French Quarter)
Entrée: Eggplant Shrimp
Cocktail: Cool as a Cucumber, Violet Fields, Ginger Pimm’s Cup, Moscow Mule, Skinny Strawberry Basil Collins, and Vesper.
GW Fins (www.gwfins.com)
808 Bienville Street (French Quarter across from French 75 Bar)
Appetizer: Lobster Dumplings
Yo Mama’s (www.yomamasbarandgrill.com)
727 St. Peters Street (French Quarter)
Hamburger: Best burgers in New Orleans. You’ll find unusual burgers such as bacon and peanut butter. Open 24 hours.
Port of Call (www.portofcallneworleans)
838 Esplanade (French Quarter)
Hamburger: Famous for their burgers
2 Poydras Street (Easy walk from the French Quarter on Canal side.)
Appetizer: Char Grilled Oysters
• Domenica (www.domenicarestaurant.com)
123 Baronne Street (Inside the Roosevelt Hotel. Easy walk from the French Quarter on Canal side. On the French Quarter side the street is called Dauphine, but once you cross Canal the street name is Baronne)
Appetizer: Cheese Plate
Pizza: Margherita (it has an egg on top)
• Three Legged Dog
400 Burgundy (French Quarter, corner of Conti and Burgundy [burr-GUN-dee] )
The ultimate dive bar that has the best fall off the bone ribs for only $8 and it will feed 2 people (ask to have them cut). Al, the bartender has tended bar in the French Quarter for 50 years and is worth talking to. You can find him there on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday noon until midnight during Tales.
• Moon Wok
800 Dauphine Street (French Quarter)
Appetizer: Shrimp & Pork Springs Rolls (ask to have cilantro put inside). These are really “summer” rolls wrapped in rice paper, not deep fried.
Soup: Chicken Noodle (I ask for no onions)
Chili paste upon request.
923 Decatur (French Quarter)
Po’ Boy: Best Muffaletta Po’ Boy. Grab one then walk over to the Mississippi River and have a little picnic.
430 Dauphine Street (French Quarter)
Appetizer: Mushroom toast or any of the sweet breads.
This is Susan Spicer’s restaurant.
Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse (www.dickiebrennanssteakhouse.com)
716 Iberville Street (French Quarter)
Appetizer: Onion Rings (they use buttermilk)
Commander’s Palace (www.commanderspalace.com)
1403 Washington Avenue (have to cab it)
Brunch: Eggs Jeanette
Entreé: Soft Shell Crab
Dessert: Cheesecake (they make it from scratch)
Martinis: 25 cents
930 Tchoupittoulas Street
Cocktail: Moonshine Flights
601 Decatur Street (French Quarter)
Soup: French Onion
Cocktails: Claims to have the cheapest drinks in the French Quarter
Stein’s Market & Deli (www.steinsdeli.net)
2207 Magazine Street (have to cab it)
Sandwiches: Sam, Fernando, and Rueben
They also have a selection of hard-to-find gourmet items to purchase.
401 Poydras (easy walk from the French Quarter on Canal side)
Breakfast: Any of the omelets
Po’ Boy: Famous Ferdi Special
eat New Orleans (www.eatnola.com)
900 Dumaine Street (French Quarter)
Sandwich: Grilled Portabella
Dessert: Apple Pie
534 St. Louis Street (French Quarter)
Entreé: Grilled Pork Chop (nicknamed “the doorstop”)
Nola offers much larger portions than your average high-end restaurant. Try to sit on the second floor, as it was designed more comfortable for the locals. The first floor was designed for tourists/high turnover.
Mr. B’s Bistro (www.mrbsbistro.com)
201 Royal Street (French Quarter)
Entreé: Shrimp and Grits
Camellia Grill (www.camelliagrill.net)
626 South Carrollton Ave (have to cab it or take the St. Charles streetcar)
Breakfast: Chef Special Omelet
739 Conti (French Quarter – On the corner of Bourbon and Conti)
The best service I’ve had in the French Quarter. Everyone from the host, waiter, to the busser was very welcoming and knowledgeable. You can tell that management focuses on customer service. I tasted everyone’s food at the table and all was good. I don’t like their seafood gumbo though. Hard pieces to dig out (shells & claws) are weird to me and too much work. One day I was walking to the bank and saw the Hell’s Kitchen film crew with Chef Gordon Ramsey doing a scene outside of Oceana.
Restaurants close down pretty early in the French Quarter (10pm – 11pm), so it’s good to know late night options.
Attiki Bar & Grill (www.attikineworleans.com)
230 Decatur Street (French Quarter – across from House of Blues)
Kitchen is open until 1am
DeJa Vu Grill (www.dejavunola.com)
400 Dauphine Street
Open 24 hours
Three Legged Dog
400 Burgundy Street
Open 24 hours
Yo Mama’s (www.yomamasbarandgrill.com)
727 St. Peters Street (French Quarter)
Open 24 hours
1109 Decatur Street (French Quarter)
They close at different times, but are always open late night until like 3am
IHOP (International House of Pancakes)
833 Canal Street (edge of the French Quarter)
Open 24 hours
116 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
Open 24 hours
Cafe du Monde (www.cafedumonde.com)
813 Decatur Street (French Quarter)
Open 24 hours
Clover Grill (www.clovergrill.com)
900 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
Open 24 hours
I hope you found this information useful and look forward to you visiting me at The Bombay Club.