It’s cold and it’s Friday; it must be time for a drink. Since that’s not really practical at 8 am, I’ll fantasize instead and compile my list of The Getaway Girls Favorite New Orleans Cocktails. I’ll be honest, if you enjoy trendy craft cocktails, look somewhere else. For one thing, when I hear “craft” I think “glue stick” which has no place anywhere near my drink. Also, I don’t really need sprigs of witch hazel or eye of newt to dress up a drink – I’m easily impressed by most cocktails because I’m bad at making them. Except for my mint juleps, which are tasty but my husband always says they’re too strong (But really? It’s bourbon. If it was supposed to be weak, they’d just call it Miller Lite).
So without further ado, here are The Getaway Girls Top Tipples in New Orleans – written in the order in which you should enjoy them. Because I’m feeling bossy this morning.
1. Brandy milk punch at Brennan’s. Now, I’m not a milk drinker, and the only place it belongs for me is in my coffee cup. So the idea of milk in a cocktail seems wrong. Like milk in Dr Pepper, which my husband actually drinks. (So bourbon and mint is too much, but milk and soda makes sense? Blech). But you can’t argue with the sweet, warm, whisky-laden punch at Brennan’s. Frankly, it’s hard to frown at the idea of a breakfast cocktail –its very existence was only dreamed up to make you smile as you spend entirely too much money for eggs, but I guess I’m a sucker because it works.
2. Pimm’s cup at Napoleon House. Waiter, there’s a cucumber in my drink! There are so many things to like about a Pimm’s cup. One, it’s got gin, which reminds me of my grandparents who always enjoyed a good gin martini. Also, I love gin and tonics, but I actually like the taste of tonic water and apparently all bartenders think I want is a lot of gin and a lime, so I rarely order them – a Pimm’s cup has just the right amount of gin and it has that perky little cucumber slice reminiscent of the cucumber water you get at a spa. Which looks refreshing and delicious, but it’s really just water with vegetables floating in it. If you ask me, all spa owners should replace the contents of those water coolers with Pimm’s cups. Massages would be infinitely more enjoyable and we’d all tip more. Win-win. Last, but not least – if you’re going to have a Pimm’s cup, you might as well sip yours with a muffaletta and Napoleon House makes the best version. And then you can pretend you’re a French ex-pat plotting to bring back the exiled ruler . . . or you can just enjoy your drink. Your choice.
3. Mojito at the House of Blues. Mojitos are iffy for me. Sometimes they’re perfectly minty and cool and sometimes they taste like Sprite mixed with Windex. The House of Blues in New Orleans makes theirs just right (incidentally, so does the Beverly Hills Hotel, but I could pay my mortgage for the price of a drink there and the waiters are kind of snotty). Also, after you’ve walked off your muffaletta, you probably need a place to sit for a minute and the House of Blues has loads to look at and their bathrooms are clean. (Not always a given in New Orleans).
4. Blue Moon beer at the 700 Club. I love a good gay bar in the middle of the afternoon. There’s no drunk dads hitting on you, the TV shows Britney not ball games, and – again, people this is a big deal – the ladies room is small but tidy. And around 4 pm, a cold Blue Moon with an orange slice is a nice alternative to going back to the hotel for a nap before dinner. Because really? You’re in New Orleans – you can nap on the plane ride home.
5. Hibiscus martini at Commander’s Palace. Granted, this is kind of frou-frou, but it’s a gorgeous dark purple color and it accomplishes the difficult task of smelling like flowers without tasting like hand lotion. Which in my experience usually happens – like when someone serves you lavender crème brulee and you’re not sure whether you should eat it or rub it into your cuticles. There’s no such confusion about the hibiscus martini – it’s tart and easy to sip, and it makes the perfect transition to your next drink, which is . . .
6. French 75 at the Columns Hotel. The French 75 is basically champagne and gin. I’ve already told you how I feel about gin, but champagne on its own I could take or leave. A champagne cocktail, on the other hand, is fun. I know people say it’s a hooker’s drink, but I don’t know why. I mean, I’m hardly an expert on prostitutes, but I’d be willing to bet most hard-working ladies of the night are not swilling champagne these days. So call me slutty, I stand by the champagne cocktail! And honestly, I’ll drink just about anything at the Columns Hotel, which is where my book begins.
7. A mimosa at the Hotel Monteleone. No, this is not brunch. This is what you drink after brunch, when you’ve sadly packed your suitcase, paid your hotel bill, and you’re wishing it wasn’t time to take a taxi back to the airport. There is no place in the world like the Montelone. When you first arrived, the twinkling lights and horse-topped bar welcomed you at happy hour with that first glass of wine before you embarked on your evening. Your dress was black, your lipstick was red and everything felt crisp and new as you anticipated the first of many wonderful dinners.
Now, as the carved wooden carousel revolves around in a lazy circle, you look out the windows and into the lobby and think of all the fun you’ve had as the bubbles from the champagne warm your hangover. Your dress has been shoved into the bottom of your luggage because it won’t fit again until you lose the five pounds you’ve gained in three days. And the slightly bitter taste of the orange juice matches how you feel because you don’t really want to leave. There are more meals to eat, more cocktails to drink, more music to hear, and more silly drunken conversations to have with old friends.
But maybe if you’re lucky, you can come back next year.