During Essence Festival I usually set aside a day to be a complete tourist. This year, I opted to sample some of the iconic New Orleans cocktails. Initially I was going to try a guided tour but when I saw the $29 price tag only included one drink, I opted to keep my coin and go the self- directed tour route instead.
The first stop on our cocktail tour was the Roosevelt Hotel. The bartender looked like a 1930’s movie star and I fully expected Ginger Rogers to come waltzing in at any moment. We started with the Sazerac, which also happens to be the name of the bar. Dubbed the official cocktail of New Orleans the Sazerac includes Sazerac 6 year Rie Whiskey, peychauds bitters, sugar in a herbsaint rinsed glass.
The Sazerac bar also made the Ramos Gin Fizz which includes: lemon and lime juice, simple syrup, egg whites, gin, seltzer water and orange flower water. Hands down this was one of my favorite drinks it tasted just like key lime pie and was very refreshing on a hot July day.
Stop #2 was the Bourbon House for Brandy Milk Punch which tastes like Christmas- literally. Imagine the best egg nog you’ve ever had and it may come close to this drink which consists of milk, ice cream and brandy. It’s simple,delicious, full of calories and probably my favorite on this list.
Stop #3 the Carousel Bar, Hotel Monteleon
We veered slightly from the “classic cocktails” and opted for a French 007 which is a take on the classic French 75 curated in 2007 by bartender Marvin Allen and includes: Mathilde de Pear, Pomegranate liqueur and sparking wine. Essentially it reminded me of a cranberry
Stop# 4 Pat O’Briens which is the home of the infamous hurricane. I was completely underwhelmed by the hurricane. I’ve never been a fan of kool-aid and the amount of ice completely watered the drink down. My recommendation would be to skip Pat O’Briens and head for Felix’s instead where you can not only get a great hurricane, you can fill your belly with some of their chargrilled oysters which are the best in the city.
Recommendations for your self-directed cocktail tour:
- Eat first- the Sazerac probably would have had me on the floor had I attempted to drink it on an empty stomach.
- If you’re lucky you will come across a knowledgable bartender who will offer historical context about each of the respective drinks. Our bartender Andrja at the Roosevelt Hotel Was not only knowledgeable about the historical context of the drinks, he also had really good recommendations for other bars we should try for the quintessential New Orleans drinks.
photo credit: Brian Hall, Luxe Glam Media