Although the temperatures in New York were in the 60s over Christmas, I escaped to parts more tropical… New Orleans! I spent a week with my family exploring the city and over indulging in food and drinks.
Of course, no visit to New Orleans is complete without seeing a second line parade. We saw a very Christmas themed one. In terms of dinning, my first request for our culinary adventures was oysters!
Unsurprisingly, the line for Acme, the city’s most famous spot for oysters, was down the block despite the rainy weather. We opted for Félix’s across the street. Same awesome food, less of a wait! We all started out with a local IPA…
…followed up with raw oysters! These oysters were huge compared to the ones that we get in New York. A little bit hard to eat, but totally delicious and briny.
In addition to consuming copious amounts of seafood, we also wanted to learn more about the city of New Orleans and its rich culture. So, we took one of the most lively tours I have ever been on, Doctor Gumbo’s Cocktail Tour of New Orleans (AKA the Cure for the Common Tour).
We started the tour with a French 75 and a brief history of the cocktail. Did you know the cocktail is a truly American export? The centers of cocktail creation and innovation have continually been both New Orleans and New York. I’ve actually made these before, but with gin. It turns out, that is the more British version! The original French 75 was a combination of champagne and cognac. Either way, a delicious cocktail to start the evening.
We wound our way though the streets of New Orleans, stopping at different bars along the way. Not just the most (in) famous, but also more modern award winners with innovative, younger bartenders. I think one of my favorites was the Brandy Crusta. One of the first cocktails, this delight is created by combining brandy, lemon juice, orange liqueur, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, and a dash of bitters. It is topped with a lemon twist and sugar rim. Delicious! My second favorite was the Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan Brown Nut Ale. Not to heavy, but full of flavor, you can really taste the hint of the pecans that are included in the brewing process.
We explored a variety of different New Olean’s bars and cocktails in addition to learning a lot about the city. We ended the evening at Tujague’s Restaurant and Bar. Over 150 years old, the original bar is still the kind without chairs. You truly do belly-up to the bar. In addition to excellent cocktails, you can also get a genuine absinthe, complete with sugar drip.
We tried a grasshopper first. Made with Green & White Crème de Menthe, Crème de Cacao, Brandy, and light cream, it is like drinking thin mint ice cream. Super delicious! Although it wasn’t part of the tour, we also shared one of the absinthe drinks. The bartenders, wearing suspenders and black armbands, poured the absinthe. But the drink isn’t ready yet! They placed a metal contraption on top of the glass that drips water onto a sugar cube, changing the color of the drink from clear to cloudy. It was quite a sight!
The French Quarter in New Orleans is filled with bars, many with rich, long, and nefarious histories. I would highly recommend taking Doctor Gumbo’s tour to learn more about the history of both the cocktail and the city.