New Orleans is justly renowned for its talented mixologists. And its innumerable bars range from the sophisticated to the downright raucous. Here are a few of my favorite cocktails and watering holes.
The Bar Tonique hosts a friendly, mostly local crowd in an out-of-the-way location on Rampart Street, next door to the Voodoo Spiritual Temple. It is one of the most fastidious cocktail lounges in the city, with just about everything made in-house except the spirits themselves. I ordered one of the more unusual cocktails on the menu, the Red Light Fir. This mixture of Bols Genever, Clear Creek Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir, simple syrup, lemon juice and Angostura bitters could easily have tasted like a mouthful of pine needles, but the citrus and bitters kept things admirably balanced.
The Swizzle Stick Bar in the Loews Hotel is more upscale than Bar Tonique but lacks its character. Skeptical that scotch could work well in a cocktail, I ordered an 1886, composed of Glenfiddich, Bénédictine, Peychaud’s bitters and Green Chartreuse. This drink proved me wrong. It tasted fruity, cinnamony and smooth, with a spicy kick and a smoky underbelly.
Other favorite cocktails from my recent trip included:
Served at Root, this sweet- sour concoction of rye whiskey, logan- berry liqueur and lemon juice tasted surprisingly complex, with flavors of berries, citrus and wood.
At Stella!, this wild cocktail tasted thoroughly exotic in spite of its many local ingredients. Its green, spicy and bitter flavors came from Perique Tobacco Liqueur, gentian, barrel- aged rum, ginger simple syrup and lime juice.
The cocktails were one of the best aspects of SoBou, a newly opened restaurant in the W French Quarter hotel. This drink features rye whiskey, maple syrup, lemon and Amère Sauvage (an American version of the French gentian liqueur, Suze) with fresh thyme and a Herbsaint rinse on the glass.
Perfect for New Orleans’ humid weather, this creation at The American Sector in the National WWII Museum was made with gin, cucumber, mint and ginger beer. Very cool, very sharp and very strong, it came with a pleasant gingery aftertaste.