New Orleans

I arrived in New Orleans closer to dawn than dusk, and the drive from the airport to the Loews New Orleans gave me an impression of a surprisingly still city.  As I checked in, I considered dropping my bags in my room and making my way across the street to Harrah’s for a Mint Julep and testing my luck with $20 on red.  As proud as my boss would have been with that impromptu itinerary, I saw the incredibly comfortable pillows on my bed and I was enticed.  The city will have to wait until tomorrow to know that I have arrived. 

My second evening, I was fortunate to be joined by several Loews colleagues for a night on the town.  The group included three women, each of whom has lived in the Crescent City a varying number of years, but they seemed to come to a quick consensus on the best places to take a NOLA novice for a nightcap.  Or two.

Vespa

We headed back into the French Quarter where I had explored galleries and museums earlier in the day, so there was a sense of familiarity which I liked.  The street lights made the scene seem surreal as we walked, passing Royal Street, and then turning onto BourbonI immediately wondered what we were getting ourselves into; this being my first trip to New Orleans, I had preconceived notions about Bourbon Street and was pretty sure that I wanted to avoid that infamous stretch of bars.  To my disbelief, the block ahead was still quite quiet and there wasn’t a hurricane in sight.  I followed the lead of Kristen, Kim, and Lauren as we entered Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar.  The name is fitting given I felt like I was on the set of a commercial for Captain Morgan Black.  We proceeded to the dimly lit bar and Lauren ordered a Pimms Cup for me while stressing the fact that I should shy away from the daiquiris that are so heavily advertised around the city.  Duly noted…

Nightlife 001

As we headed towards the patio, we passed a group of people huddled around a large object.  I raised an eyebrow and Kristen explained that locals circle the Blacksmith piano every night for a sing-a-long.  I was relieved that we kept walking past the piano, but my fingers were crossed that we would hear some music while we enjoyed our round of cocktails.  As we sat and sipped, my newly-minted friends explained to me that this area of Bourbon Street is very different from the one so heavily advertised.  Evidently we were in the residential section of the street, and Lafitte’s is rumored to be the oldest bar in town.  Ahhh, the McSorley’s of New Orleans.

Nightlife Band

After an hour or so, my New Orleans nightlife guides determined it was time to forge on to a different watering hole.  We walked a relatively short distance to Frenchman Street (past the house featured in the reality series Tough Love) in hopes of finding some local music and a crowd worth watching.  We wandered into d.b.a. to listen to the Treme Brass Band which was well worth the $5 cover and hand stamp that I had to rub persistently the next morning before it disappeared.  I had my first Sazerac, a New Orleans must, as I decided that Frenchman Street may in fact be cooler than Brooklyn, a feat I didn’t know was plausible.  My preppy grosgrain-striped dress was no match for the Boho-chic I was surrounded by, so we called it a night as the band was going on break.  New Orleans is exceeding my expectations…  

 

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