This year, the Pretty Little Wife and I celebrated the new year in New Orleans. We both love the French Quarter and we thought it might be fun to take the New Orleans Cocktail Tour. So at 4:00 on the first day of 2012, we found ourselves standing on the Toulouse Street wharf sipping some complimentary rum punch and waiting for our guide.
Our guide for the afternoon was Joe Gendusa, the man who created the cocktail tour (and a former principal at the Pretty Little Wife’s middle school). After a quick introduction, he led us off to our first stop: Tujague’s. Sitting just off Jackson Square, Tujague’s is one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans and the birthplace of the Grasshopper. The Pretty Little Wife and I had enjoyed a very tasty dinner there the night before (even if they don’t know how to make a Seelbach). They whipped up a Sazerac and a Pimm’s Cup for us and even provided go cups when it was time for the tour to move on.
Joe led us back around Jackson Square and up Pirate’s Alley to the Pirate’s Alley Cafe and Olde Absinthe House, where we got a lesson on the history of absinthe and a chance to chase the green fairy. I’m not generally a big fan of anise (black licorice), which is one of the major flavor components of absinthe, but about halfway through the glass, my mouth started going numb, so I wasn’t going to complain. The absinthe found its way into a go cup, nobody tried the Toxic Baby, and we once again hit the streets.
We walked up Royal to the antique weapon and coin store that used to be Peychaud’s apothecary shop and Joe explained that this was where the cocktail was born. We continued on to The Court of the Two Sisters, a very popular brunch stop in NOLA. The Pretty Little Wife had a Bayou Bash (basically a cajun sangria), and I had a very tasty mint julep. Apparently they grow their own mint on site.
From there, the tour wandered up Bienville and across Bourbon to Arnaud’s French 75. We took a quick spin through the very unique museum on the second floor and returned to the bar where the tour concluded. Before we could order our French 75s (a champagne cocktail that Arnaud’s makes with cognac and most other bars make with gin), we had to run across the street to our dinner reservation at GW Fins.
Dinner was perfect. Dessert was even better. The Fins Cappuccino was just right.
After dinner, we went back over to Arnaud’s French 75 to meet some friends. I think between the four of us we sampled at least half of the cocktail menu. The French 75 was good, but the highlight for me was finally getting a Seelbach (it’s not on the menu, but the bartender knows a thing or two).
When Arnaud’s closed up at midnight, we dragged our friends back down to Pirate’s Alley because they had never tried absinthe. After that it was over to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (because you can’t not go there). We grabbed a slice of pizza at Mango Mango. We made it back to our hotel around 2:00 and took a well-deserved nap.