This is New Orleans, and any excuse is a good excuse to drink. As my favorite columnist Chris Rose once put it, “we dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much & laugh too loud & live too large, and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t.” And nothing describes New Orleanians better. So, when you’re visiting the city do as the locals do and enjoy life to the fullest. Here’s a list of some of classic, delicious and unique-to-New Orleans cocktails and some of the best places to get them in NOLA.
1. The Hurricane. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of bars and restaurants across the nation that claim to make and serve a New Orleans Hurricane. Well, they’re lying! A New Orleans Hurricane can’t be enjoyed outside of the city and, in my opinion, can’t really be enjoyed anywhere but Pat O’Brien’s. The Hurricane is made with light rum, dark rum, an array of fruit juices and little bit of grenadine. They’re incredibly sweet and delicious and can be a little bit dangerous. Drinker beware, these are a lot stronger than you think. Can’t make it to Pat O’s? Here’s our Hurricane recipe.
2. The Sazerac. Not one of my favorite cocktails, but a New Orleans classic for sure. My brother, father and boyfriend all rave about these Rye whiskey cocktails. A traditional Sazerac is made with Herbsaint (an absinthe substitute), Rye Whiskey, and bitters. If you’re not a whiskey or absinthe drinker, this probably isn’t for you. But, as they say, when in Rome…I’ve heard the best sazerac in town is at The Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel. If you want to try your hand at making a New Orleans Sazerac, check out our Sazerac Recipe.
3. The Sidecar. A sidecar cocktail is a brandy based cocktail and, even as a person who doesn’t enjoy brandy the way some do, it is a drink I love to sip. The best sidecarI’ve ever had was at Commander’s Palace, but it is a cocktail you can get at just about any higher-end bar. It’s made with Brandy, Cointreau and a little lemon, so it has the perfect balance between fruity and bold. Make your own with this Sidecar recipe from Commander’s Palace.
4. The French 75. The French 75 is somewhat of a controversy in New Orleans and the great debate is whether it should be made with Gin or Cognac. Either way, the champagne-based cocktail is delicious and refreshing. I prefer mine with gin, but a cognac French 75 is tasty, too, so order based on your own preference or ask the bartender which they prefer. Arnaud’s French 75 Bar easily makes one of the best in city.
5. Pimm’s Cup. The Pimm’s Cup is one of the most refreshing, perfect-for-summer cocktails New Orleans has to offer. The drink is simple, take some Pimm’s No. 1, a little gingerale and some freshly muddled cucumbers and — Bam! — you have yourself an ice cold glass of awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever been in two bars that made their Pimm’s the same way, but the best Pimm’s Cup I ever had was at Dante’s Kitchen. Napoleon House also makes a pretty killer Pimm’s. It’s easy to make though, so if you’re not in New Orleans try this Pimm’s Cup recipe at home!