Recommending just one bar to grab a drink in while visiting the Big Easy is no easy feat—New Orleans is a libertine’s paradise. But we believe we’ve hunted down the ideal joint for you to savor some of the city’s best cocktails on offer. While living it up in New Orleans, free yourself from the stresses of the world and the chaos of your party whirlwind by ducking into Arnaud’s French 75 Bar and sampling a few choice libations.
Located just off America’s party strip, Bourbon Street, in the city’s historic French Quarter, the bar is found in Arnaud’s, one of the largest restaurants in the city and a landmark since 1918. (Tourist bonus: Arnaud’s also showcases a Mardi Gras museum.) Originally the bar was a “gentlemen only area” where the men could retreat after supper to puff on stogies and sip brandy, but now that we live in a more enlightened time the space has been repurposed into a boozy escape for one and all. The bar is small and lushly decorated in vintage 19th century glamour and it manages to capture the elegance of the Gilded Age without being stodgy.
The atmosphere is just the cherry in the old fashioned; we’re here for the drinks and they’re worth writing home about. The logical place to start is with the establishment’s namesake, the French 75. Master mixologist Chris Hannah has concocted a unique (and somewhat controversial) take on this cocktail. In most recipes the drink is made with champagne and gin, but Hannah argues that since the 75’s origins lie with the French, gin, that most English of liquors, should be nixed. Hannah’s version therefore sensibly replaces the gin with cognac. His recipe, composed of Courvoisier VS, sugar, lemon juice and Moet & Chandon champagne, is a thrill to imbibe. Another obvious recommendation is the Sazerac (rye whiskey, sugar, house-made bitters), one of America’s first cocktails and, as declared by Louisiana House of Representatives, the official drink of New Orleans.
All bitters and syrups are made in-house and the bar places a high importance on quality spirits and local, fresh ingredients. The cocktail menu gets shaken up throughout the year, depending on what’s in season, but if a favorite isn’t on the list, talk to the man behind the bar to get hooked up with your choice concoction.
Arnaud’s French 75 is also a cigar bar with fine cigars for sale; treat yourself and find a smoke that complements your brand of hooch. The drinks are around the $10 mark (and there’s also a small Creole-influenced appetizer menu if you feel peckish).
There’s a lot to see and do and drink in NOLA, but stop into Arnaud’s French 75 to start your New Orleans experience on the right note.