Nothing beats the summer heat quite like a cool, refreshing cocktail. Whether you’re perched on a bar stool, seated at a white tablecloth table, or lounging poolside on a rooftop, I’ve got a great list of warm weather-approved cocktails (based on your liquor of choice) that will have you wishing summer lasted all year long.
New Orleans Summer cocktails
Nothing says “summer” quite like a classic margarita on the rocks. At Espiritu on Capdeville St. you can enjoy their house Mezcal margarita with Tajin (a blend of chili, lime, and sea salt) on the rim. The new Otra Vez on Julia Street in the South Market District also has a wonderful house margarita and both places have some stellar guac and tacos in case you get the margarita munchies. Tequila lovers will also want to check out the Mezcal and tequila selection at the Catahoula Hotel’s rooftop bar.
Although the frozen variety is quite delicious, once you’ve had a real daiquiri of white rum, lime juice, and sugar, like the one from Cure on Freret, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for this famous, age-old cocktail. Another favorite is the frozen version at Manolito, which is just like the ones at the famous La Floridita a.k.a. Ernest Hemingway’s favorite place for a daiquiri in Havana, Cuba.
There are endless options when it comes to vodka-based drinks, and I’m always impressed at the unique combinations our local bars come up with, especially when infusing is involved. The Postcard from Bangkok at Bar Marilou inside the Maison de la Luz on Carondelet (the newest property of Ace Hotels), features kaffir lime-infused vodka, lemon, and coconut. And if you need a caffeine kick with your cocktail, try the Courant de Reviere from The Roosevelt Hotel with Oryza vodka, Combier Creme de Cassis, house cold brew coffee, and fresh cream.
Though I prefer my bourbon on the rocks, the second best way to enjoy the spirit is in an expertly made Old Fashioned and Barrel Proof’s version with Old Grand Dad Bonded bourbon, sugar, and bitters is always done well. You can opt to try something totally out of the box with Cure’s Tanuki Thai, a spin on a Mai Thai with Japanese Whiskey.
A view is always nice, and at the Hot Tin inside the Pontchartrain Hotel on St. Charles you not only get a great 270-degree view of downtown New Orleans and the Superdome, but beautiful cocktails like the Wolf in Lamb’s Clothing made with gin, Lambrusco, lemon juice, and honey syrup. Bartender extraordinaire, Chris Hannah, recently opened Jewel of the South and the cocktail descriptions read like poetry. Try the Barbadian Gin Punch with Hendrick’s gin, coconut water, lemon sherbet, and nutmeg. Lastly, the Royal Soiree from The Roosevelt with Bombay Dry gin, falernum (Caribbean syrup with flavors of ginger, lime, and almond), pineapple, lemon, and Angostura bitters.
Can’t get enough of the fizz? While you can get a glass of champagne or sparkling wine just about anywhere, Longway Tavern’s Pimms Royale with Pimms, brandy, sparkling wine, and citrus sounds like a nice diversion. And though it seems basic, a mimosa is something that can be made 100% better with fresh-squeezed orange juice. I found the one at Elysian Bar inside the Hotel Peter and Paul to be the perfect accompaniment to a delicious brunch.
New Orleans is known for its drive-thru daiquiri shops but they’re not the only place you can get a deliciously spiked frozen beverage. At Molly’s at the Market and Erin Rose in the French Quarter, they’re famous for frozen Irish Coffees with swirls of ground coffee. Pro tip: locals have been known to add an extra shot of Jameson.