Two of my favorite cocktails — the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Sazerac — are New Orleans originals. On a recent trip to the Big Easy, I had to sample them along with a bunch of their distant craft cocktail cousins.
The Sazerac Bar inside the historic Roosevelt Hotel is absolutely gorgeous. It’s like stepping into a pre-prohibition time machine. And the drink I had there was, no contest, the best example of a Sazerac I’ve ever tasted. It was incredibly smooth and balanced — don’t worry, I consumed two during the trip (though not on the same night — those things are no joke.)
I also loved the glasses the bar used to serve the drinks. So pretty.
At the Napoleon House, where we ate muffalettas, I had a Pimm’s Cup, which is the house specialty. You can make your own, though I tend to agree with their disclaimer: If I made one at home, it probably wouldn’t taste the same as it did when I drank it on their sunny patio.
The Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone is one of those “is this really happening?” experiences. This carousel ride — very slow carousel ride — is definitely adults only. Installed in 1949, the Carousel Bar’s 25-seat bar turns on 2,000 large steel rollers, pulled by a chain powered by a one-quarter horsepower motor. Patrons circumnavigate at one revolution every 15 minutes. We timed our revolution, as good investigative journalists would, and it took us 14 minutes and 35 seconds to swirl around once. While we did, I had a glass of wine and my husband Matthew tried their version of an Old Fashioned, complete with swizzle stick. How retro.
One afternoon we stopped into Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which has been continually operating as a tavern in the same building since around 1722. That makes it the oldest bar in the United States. The website says there’s no electricity in the bar, but that’s not quite the case — big-screen TV’s were showing the NCAA basketball tournament and a jukebox was playing ’90s rock, though there were no proper lights, only candles. It was appropriately stinky, though, and when I ventured back toward the ladies’ room it was pitch-black, so there’s that. And the bar’s version of a Pimm’s Cup wasn’t too shabby, either.
I only had one Ramos Gin Fizz the whole trip (Can you believe it? I sort of can’t.) It was during dinner at Sylvain, and it was proper.
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Find recipes for drinks and videos from Sarah’s trip on her blog at omavore.omaha.com.