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The 5 Most Classic New Orleans Cocktails and the Best Places to Drink Them...

The recent Sazerac discussion prompted this post.

What are the top 5 New Orleans cocktails?

Where do y'all go to drink them?

Prefer small,neighborhood joints[my favorite bar in town is Evelyn's place]but can go fancy too.

A few words about Evelyn's http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/533860

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  1. Pimms cup at the Napoleon house, sazerac and ramos gin fizz at the roosevelt, Hurricane at Pat O'Briens and the home of the grasshopper at Tujagues.

    6 Replies
    1. re: joedontexan

      Vieux Carre at The Carousel Bar (and anything else if Eddie is mixing)
      Commander's Palace: I have to say, the Papa Doble is a wonderful cocktail, as is the Whiskey Smash.

      Pat O'Brien's hurricane is something everyone should have once but it's basically shit. Kool-aid plus cheap booze. Might as well get a handgrenade at Tropical Isle or whatever while you're at it, but I assume we're all grown ups here at this point. I haven't bothered with Hurricanes anywhere else but someone told me the one at the bar at Brennan's is great.

      I thought the Absinthe Frappe was really nice at the Old Absinthe House, but that place can be a real pain in the ass when it's crowded (and also a great place to have your things stolen once you've had a few, but that's another thread all together....)

      1. re: kukubura

        1. The Sazerac is obviously "the" quintisential New Orleans cocktail. I hope my favorite place for a Sazerac will be at the Sazerac Bar, but as I have not been yet, I am not certain..
        2. Pimm's Cup-Napoleon House or for upscale Bayona.
        3. Ramos Gin Fizz-The Library Lounge at the Ritz Carlton
        4. Abita Amber (Hey, I am not a huge beer fan, but this is the only one I can drink...EVER!-Any corner bar, dive or restaurant in NOLA.
        5. French 75 or Vieux Carre at the Carousel Bar.
        6. The Roffignac: (I believe the Carousel Bar does these and they are fabulous! Dates back to the 1820's and named after Mayor Roffignac who escaped the guillotine to settle into the Quarter. ) 2 ounces rye whiskey, 1 ounce raspberry syrup,
        club soda, and garnishe with fresh strawberries. Mix said ingredients and top with club soda.(Serve in a high ball glass with ice, of course) Refreshing!

        1. re: ScarlettNola

          The Library Lounge at the Ritz Carlton is a private club, so visitors will need to go elsewhere for a good Ramos Gin Fizz. I recommend:

          1. Bar UnCommon at the Renaissance Père Marquette Hotel. (Phone ahead to find out when master mixologist Chris McMillian is tending bar.)
          2. Carousel Lounge at the Monteleone Hotel.

          Can't believe no one's mentioned Arnaud's French 75 Bar (next door to Arnaud's restaurant)! It's a classy little space, and if you go when Chris Hannah is bartending, you're likely to get a beautifully-made version of just about anything. His Sazeracs are excellent.

          1. re: BrooksNYC

            True...but even when we go to have a few drinks at the bar, we move to the courtyard. The bartender at the Lounge generally mixes the drinks for the courtyard. I noticed cocktail waitresses coming into the bar to get drinks for those in the courtyard (although it was a very slow weeknight and may be different on weekends) Chris McMillan was the mixologist at the Ritz and I believe that he switched to Bar Uncommon after the LL became a private club. I also believe that guests at the Ritz can access the club for a nominal fee, but am not certain. ( The Ritz in STL has a cigar bar as well and has this option), so if you are staying there, it is always good to check as the cocktails are great, and the Lounge has a wonderful selection of cigars.

            1. re: ScarlettNola

              I was unaware that the Lounge has cigars...before Katrina I went only a friends who stayed there often and smoking was then allowed. So this is welcome news.

              The Chablis Cassis (we nver called it a "kir") used to be a staple as was the old Champagne cocktail but I wager I've not seen either one (apart from mine) ordered in years. And I have not had a champagne cocktail in at least fifteen years but the chablis cassis is a favorite. I think the New Orleans version--or so I think of it--of the French 75--was a great drink. the original is champagne and cognac..somewhere it morphed into champagne--OK, sparkling wine---and gin. Antoine's made a fabulous one.

              You just don't see anyone willing to do a fizz anmore. It has become fashionable retro to offer it but the old method of shaking the hell out of it has given was to The Blender---which works fine but do it out of earshot, please!

              It is nice to see that drinks and food involving raw eggs are not extinct...they came damn close, though.

              1. re: hazelhurst

                This is why the Lounge became a private club....The Ritz outlawed smoking in all of their hotels and they wished to continue cigar smoking. I guess the rules don't apply in private clubs...but they have wonderful old school NOLA cocktails. I believe there are two such places, one in STL and one in NOLA.

    2. the Hurricane from Lafitte's Blacksmith Shoppe is the most drinkable one ive had yet, and the atmosphere is one of a kind.

      while its frowned upon, i actually really enjoy a *small* hand grenade (available if you ask) while strolling & people watching on bourbon.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kibbles

        We did a cocktail tour while in NO and had some fun drinks. I'll second the Hurricane from Lafitte's. I thought I hated the drink after trying the Pat O's version, but the one at Lafitte's is refreshing, fruity and delicious! It's a must-have when I'm in NO. Also, while maybe not a "signature" I'll also throw out that one must try one of the many absinthe beverages at the Pirates Alley Cafe while in town.

      2. Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper, French 75, Vieux Carre, Pimm's Cup
        Uncommon Bar w/ Chris Mcmillan,
        Arnaud's French 75 w/ Chris Hannah,
        Cure w/ all staff,
        Brennan's w/ Blake Kaiser,
        Cafe Adelaide,
        Commander's Palace w/ Ferrel Dugas.
        Carousel Bar w/ Marvin Allen.
        Clever w/ Kimberly Patton-Bragg
        .and no unfortunately not at the Sazerac bar yet.

        The Roffignac, Hurricane
        Arnaud's French 75 w/ Chris Hannah,
        Cure w/ all staff,
        The reason I've chosen these two bars only is because of the availability of ingredients used for traditional recipes. (ie: raspberry syrup, passion fruit puree)

        There are many great bars and bartenders around town who offer great drinks and memorable experiences, but as far as the classics go the aforementioned have all gone through rigorous training to bring back the integrity of the classics. Having something as simple and as beautiful as a Mint Julep can be hard to come by at the hands of a novice. So if cocktails are where your heart is, then take the time to seek out the above for a beautifully crafted cocktail. Try to find the individuals mentioned by name to ensure best possible experience. Cheers!

        1. http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-...

          I posted a similar thread to trip advisor and received many responses

          2 Replies
          1. re: fixer

            Reviving the thread with a nod to the Dark and Stormy at Tonique

            1. re: scrumptiouschef

              Best Dark and Stormy I have ever had. It should actually have a different name, it's so much better.

          2. Well I guess the Sazerac has to be #1, seeing as how it's been legislated as our official cocktail.


            Places where I've enjoyed them: Sazerac at the Roosevelt, of course, Napoleon House, Carosel Bar, Old Absinthe House. I actually like this place's version the best, but it's sometimes hard for me to get people out to Bourbon St.

            Pimms Cup - Napoleon House
            Ramos Gin Fizz - I don't drink these but I've heard they're good at Sazerac and Absinthe House
            Hurricane at Pat O's - Again I don't drink them and maybe it's considered a little touristy but I don't know if you should really leave it off the list.

            2 Replies
            1. re: nola79

              It's amazing how many cocktails you can drink when you really put your mind to it. So it goes on the current journey through New Orleans cocktail world. While I find the bartender at Coquette to be right at the top of his game,his lack of ability to procure ginger beer leaves him flailing in the wake of Tonique.

              It's the only bar in New Orleans I've found where it really doesn't matter who's behind the drink. All the bartenders are uniformly skilled with Lisa's conjurings being particularly delicious.

              Like Mid City above mentions, their Dark and Stormy is so good and so much better than every other version in town it really deserves a different name.

              Who's been to Tonique?

              What was your cocktail of choice?

              820 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116

              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                Tonique doesn't use ginger beer, as far as I understand. They make their own fresh ginger juice and use that instead.

                820 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116

            2. 1. Pimms Cup - Napoleon House
              2. Pimms Cup - Napoleon House while listening to the music.
              3. Pimms Cup - Napoleon House while eating a roast beef poboy.
              4. Pimms Cup - Napoleon House when the doors are open to the rain.
              5.Pimms Cup - Napoleon House while watching people walking by when the doors are open to the rain.

              And now, I'm going to make myself a Pimm's Cup.

              Napoleon House Bar & Cafe
              500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

              6 Replies
              1. re: MJsFamousHotDogs

                How about on the patio under an umbrella in the rain? That's what my friend and I ended up doing once. Of course the sun was out! What fun.

                1. re: mrsfury

                  Mrs Fury: The sun was out while it was raining? Does that mean the Devil was beating his wife?

                  Also, who's been to Cure lately?

                  and finally:

                  Did Tonique ever start to get a crowd?

                  820 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                    Cure is great fun. nice space, good cocktail menu tho some are petite for the premium price. going next week to try some of their light eats.

                    Tonique has never seemed to have a good crowd; the most I saw was last winter but their vibe has been off since. not having a sign for the first year probably didnt help, as it was difficult for friends to find it.

                    being an avid late-niter and former family business bar worker, ill suggest one thing: part of what makes Tonique vibe-less is the music. it's simply whoever's bartending's iPod. unless an owner knows what his employees listen to and it's part of the desired image, i find this is often a mistake. the aural is as important as the visual to creating mood and establishing vibe. in Tonique's case they have a brick-swank visual going on..but the random playlists hardly ever match this and leave it instead identity-less.

                    still, their dedication to the craft makes it a favorite for me, and its much closer than Cure. i hope they do well.

                    1. re: kibbles

                      Yep, Cure is great, and livingsocial.com has a 50% off coupon for them for the next few days ($40 for $20). My experience there has been that even though the drinks are expensive, you are always offered little tastes of some liqueur the bartender is working on or whatever ingredient you're curious about. They're generous with samples, which is really nice. Although, I would warn anyone looking for the "personal touch" experience to avoid the place on Friday and Saturday nights.

                      The practice of playing the tender's iPod has long been the norm at Delachaise as well, so it must just be the preference of the owners. I've never minded it too much but I can certainly see how it has the potential for disaster.

                      1. re: uptownlibrarian

                        One of the bartenders at Tonique is also a dj for wwoz (Murf). If he's tending bar, he's playing some good tunes.

                        Also, order a Dark n Stormy with house made ginger beer.

                        820 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116

                    2. re: scrumptiouschef

                      "The sun was out while it was raining? Does that mean the Devil was beating his wife?"
                      My Mother always told me ii meant that the devil's wife put too much salt in his red beans,

                2. Arise thread! ARISE! :)

                  This is a great thread with a ton of fantastic info, but I'm curious as to what is still accurate. Is Bar Tonique still a hot spot for a good cocktail? What is the vibe like there these days?

                  Is the Napoleon House still the place for a Pimm's Cup in a shady corner?

                  How about the Bar Uncommon? Is Chris McMillian still tending bar over there? Has anyone been keeping tabs on Marvin Allen (Still at the Carousel Bar?) or Chris Hannah? Where are they at these days and what should I be asking them to make?

                  Inquiring Livers want to know!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Homero

                    I concur!

                    I also, I was surprised to see that no one mentioned Tujague's for their Sazerac. I believe it was kukubura who noted it has his best Sazerac on a recent trip.

                    Also, any info on the relatively new Bellocq would be appreciated.

                    1. re: Homero

                      "Time's they are a changin'" -Bob Dylan

                      "How about the Bar Uncommon? Is Chris McMillian still tending bar over there?"
                      No. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you ask, he has moved on and is devoting most of his time at the Museum of the American Cocktail. He'll be back behind the bar in no time.

                      "Has anyone been keeping tabs on Marvin Allen (Still at the Carousel Bar?"
                      Still there, the bar expanded, but some of his regular shifts remain the same.

                      "Chris Hannah?"
                      He is still holding court at the French 75 bar with a better/consistent support staff. His Bywater cocktail is getting some good recognition. Tasty.

                      "Is the Napoleon House still the place for a Pimm's Cup in a shady corner?"
                      That place is going nowhere. Most of us wish they had better hours, seemingly closed on random days.

                      There are a slew of bars/restaurants around the city that have stepped up their game. A new wave of up and coming bartenders sprouted almost overnight.

                      Murf moved from Bar Tonique to Sylvaine; which is a pretty solid bar. Kimberly is no longer at Clever. Bellocq is being helmed by Kirk Estopinal who kept Cure rolling since day one and is one of the most talented guys in the city. I hear the sherry cobblers at Bellocq are great.

                      Ti and Lally, of Commander's Palace/Cafe Adelaide, are opening SoBou a "Creole Saloon" at the old Bacco spot on Chartres. If history shows, it should be pretty rockin'.

                      There are of course some misses. The Sazerac bar still hasn't found its place in its historical lineage. Either their house recipes are wrong or they have yet to find a good system to train their staff. Of course one could argue that the syrupy or over bittered Sazeracs or Ramos Gin Fizz "floats" are the same recipes as before the storm but not the original documented ones that came before. Same goes for Tijague's the atmosphere is great but I am not a fan of the drinks.

                      I could go on and on, but I'd rather focus on the positives and forward motion of the culture there.

                      I know the Brandy Milk Punches are a bit pricey at Brennan's, but they are very tasty local tradition. Plus Blake Kaiser, a New Orleans gem, is still slinging brunch drinks there on the weekends.

                      The list goes on and on..

                      1. re: xxthecountxx

                        Wow, this is great stuff xxthecountxx! Thanks so much. I'm hoping more people come in and we can get this thread going again, and this is exactly the shot of adrenaline this thread was needing!

                        1. re: xxthecountxx

                          @ xxthecountxx, Can you tell me a little more about Chris Hannah's Bywater cocktail? Sounds intriguing! Also, SoBou sounds fantastic. Any idea what the time frame is for opening? Thanks again!!!

                          1. re: xxthecountxx

                            They're not completely consistent, but when they're on, the Ramos Gin Fizzes at the Carousel Bar are great.

                            1. re: Boatman

                              Did you have a Ramos Gin Fizz at the Carousel on the current trip that you're posting?

                              1. re: ndukka562

                                I did, yes, after dinner at Galatoire's Thursday night, and it was top notch. My waitress told me that Napoeon House also does a good Ramos.

                            2. re: xxthecountxx

                              Hey xxthecount, can you enlighten on some of Marvin Allen's regular shifts at the Carousel?

                          2. I want to add Bouligny Tavern to the list of new places. Great specialty cocktails, especially the Nocino Sour. It's pricey and the service doesn't often live up to the price, but overall it's a great spot.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: N.O.Food

                              Wow, that sounds very intriguing. I have never had Nocino, but that definitely sounds like something I would like to try. Thanks for the heads up, N.O. Food!