Latitude 29 (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
Like any big city, New Orleans is home to several bars offering extensive wine and craft beer collections, but know this: New Orleans is a cocktail town. Always has been, and — failing a collapse of the liquor industry — always will be. It’s where enduring drinks like the Ramos gin fizz, Sazerac, and the Brandy Crusta were invented. And when the rest of America was seized by an inexplicable mania for “lite” beer and white wine spritzers, residents of the Crescent City shrugged and kept sipping the hard stuff. Here are four outstanding drinks you can order to sample the handiwork of the city’s best bartenders.
Conjugal Visit at Three Muses
Cocktail overlord Kimberly Patton-Bragg created this drink with rye, Cointreau, aperitif wine and Sorel, a spicy liqueur from Brooklyn made with ginger, clove, nutmeg and hibiscus. It’s perfect on a chilly evening, especially when accompanied by the hot New Orleans sound emanating nightly from the bar’s small stage. Reservations helpful.
Outcast of the Islands at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29
Gin and lime are old buddies, but in this nouvelle tiki drink they travel to the tropics and run amok under a grotto-like ice cone complete with cinnamon, ginger, almond and anise. The Outcast of The Islands is one of the more stellar options at this new destination tiki bar created by internationally renowned “tiki archeologist” Jeff “Beachbum” Berry.
White Light at The Branch
Oxalis Provisions is a charming restaurant set in a low-key residential neighborhood. Walk through its first courtyard and you’ll come upon The Branch, a lovely, speakeasy-ish bar-within-a-restaurant featuring a selection of crisp, well-defined cocktails created by standout bartender Jonathan Peterson. White Light is an improbable but wonderful meeting of Martinique rum, Galiano, orange liqueur, lemon juice and bitters. As you sip, set off in search of the second, even lovelier courtyard.
The Bywater at Arnaud’s French 75
The French 75 is a perfect mix of old and new. It offers visitors the white-jacketed bartenders, cigar smoke, and heavy mahogany bar of yesteryear, but serves modern twists on classic cocktails. Concocted by head bartender Chris Hannah in honor of a historic New Orleans neighborhood, the Bywater is a harmonious compilation of rum, Chartreuse, Amer Picon and falernum.