Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Blackened Out Bar

New Orleans is a city of bars. There are your corner bars, neighborhood bars, gay bars, music bars, tourist bars, stripper bars, dive bars, martini bars, hooker bars, private bars, and sketchy bars. It's hard to swing a cat in this town without hitting a bar that has at least one redeeming quality. Unless you are swinging a cat in front of Brother's Three. (We kid.)

With Tales of the Cocktail in full swing, it got us thinking about how we would design the perfect New Orleans bar. Put on your lab coat, Dr. Frankenstein, it's time to create a monster.


The bar has to be amenable to opening early when it needs to or just never closing. Mid City Yacht Club has no problem throwing open its doors at 7 a.m. for a World Cup match between two teams whose countries you need an atlas to find. And Johnny White's has never closed. We will take one of each, please.

We like drinking ensconced in wood paneling, old books, and preferably some authentic crap on the wall. Now, we don't mean Applebees inspired decor, but more along the lines of someone once walked in with a street sign and traded it for a beer. If you have ever been to the Smoking Dog in Lyon, you know the look. But here, Finn McCool's has all of what we love, so give us the interior of Finn's.

We are going to need a jukebox. The best jukebox in the whole town, hands down, is at Chuck's Damn Near 24 Hour Bar on Gravier St. across from the Lucky Dog hangar. Bonus: the interior of Chuck's is so dark even Powder could hide in there. Plus, there are always a few service industry types getting off work and gambling with a guy in a suit. Intrigue, dark mystery, and illegal activities. Check, check, and double check.

Give us the characters who hang out at bars like Harry's Corner Bar and Ye Olde College Inn. Augment that with the pretty coeds from Fat Harry's and Fump & Manny's, minus the douchebags. Maybe toss in some Saints fans who are shooting tequila at the Alibi with Bobby Hebert after Hap's Point After. That ought to do for a cast.

Occasionally it would be good to have some live music. But nothing that starts before 11 p.m. Why that late? To allow everyone to get good and drunk before attempting to dance. A little dash of either Vaughn's or Bon Temps will be fine. (Editor's Note: This same rule should apply to weddings. You go to a wedding, walk in and the band is playing. By the time the liquid courage builds to hit the dance floor, the band is saying "We got one more song for you, a little tune called Shout.")

Games of skill and chance should be located in a back room to allow for those drinkers with gambling problems to scratch both itches. For that we'd take the darts and pool table from Bruno's and the shuffleboard table from SuperBruno's. Photo hunt and the football watching setup from The Rusty Nail gets thrown in the mix as well.


A good bartender is the cornerstone of a great bar. For the morning and lunch shift, give us Chris McMillan. As you fight off the cobwebs and struggle through your first drink, he can tell you all about the history of whatever you are drinking. Think of it as a drinking man's answer to laying on the couch and watching the History Channel while recovering from one too many.

Then in the early afternoon we'd bring in Kirk Estopinal from Cure. When Cure isn't busy and you give Kirk the chance to learn what you like and don't like, the cocktails he creates make drinking seem much more significant. Around dinner time, let's bring in Chris Hannah from Arnaud's. His pre-prandial cocktails may be the best damn thing about Arnaud's.

Now it is after dinner and time to cut up. We need a bartender with equal parts memory and forgetfulness. Memory so that when he sees you approach the bar, he has your drink ready before you ask for it. Forgetfulness so the next morning he doesn't judge or remind you of what happened. Cue Sean Thibodeaux of Clever.


Beer, we need beer. As the late great Thornton Melon once said, "Bring a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until someone passes out and then bring one every ten minutes, ok? Alright." We want half of the beer list from The Avenue Pub. Just enough interesting and delicious beers to satisfy the beer aficionados. Then give us a couple coolers of cold, domestic swill for late night and celebrating the next Saints Super Bowl Championship. We'll get those beers from Henry's.

You don't drink wine in a bar, unless you love wearing black mock turtlenecks and iPads. But if we had to have wine due to some arcane liquor law or a request from a hot chick, we'd get some guzzable Pinot Grigio or a wine named something like Sexy Cocktail dress. I bet Mrs. Mae's has it.

For hard booze give us a jigger of the Carousel Bar, a half ounce of the upstairs bar at Galatoire's (for Brandy Milk Punches), and a few dashes of the Columns. Pour it over the Bourbon, Scotch, and Whisky collection from d.b.a.

Shake, strain, and serve in a tall, cold glass.


Shedd said...

That sounds like a fantastic bar. Let me know when you open for business.

Anonymous said...

I see you forgot to add the charm of Daquiri's n Creams.