Thursday, February 5, 2015

6 of New Orleans’ Best Hotel Bars

Chimay at Patrick's Bar Vin New Orleans
Belgian Beer at Patrick's Bar Vin
New Orleans has no shortage of bars from which to choose, but something that really makes New Orleans stand out is its collection of unique hotel bars.  These aren’t your average hotel bars, where drinks are served just off the lobby.  New Orleans’ best hotel bars are steeped in history and serve some of the best cocktails in town.

Carousel Bar & Lounge at Hotel Monteleone

Hotel Monteleone New Orleans
Hotel Monteleone
It doesn’t get much more unique than a revolving merry-go-round bar.  That is exactly what the Hotel Monteleone offers with its famous Carousel Bar.  Hotel Monteleone was founded by Antonio Monteleone, a shoemaker who emigrated from Sicily to America.  Antonio Monteleone opened a cobbler shop on Royal Street (his entryway mosaic is still there), and in 1886 bought the Commercial Hotel across the street.  The hotel has gone through five renovations since 1886 and is still family owned.  Hotel Monteleone is one of only three hotels in the United States designated as an official literary landmark by the American Library Association, as famous American authors like Truman Capote, Richard Ford, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams used to frequent the hotel.

Monteleone Mosaic New Orleans
Monteleon Mosaic
The carousel was installed in 1949.  The 25-seat carousel pewter bar turns on 2,000 rollers and takes exactly 15 minutes to make a complete rotation.  Bar tenders have to climb over the bar to get out, and they have to remember the faces of their patrons as they will be in a completely different place once their cocktail is poured.  The only thing missing from the carousel is the circus animals, but they are referenced as paintings on the back of each bar stool.

Carousel Bar & Lounge New Orleans
Carousel Bar & Lounge
The Carousel Bar & Lounge is not only famous for its revolving bar, but also for its cocktails, old and new, some of which were invented at the Carousel Bar.  The Carousel Bar’s signature classic cocktail is the Vieux Carre, first mixed by Walter Berferon in 1938 and requested by Tennessee Williams.  The Vieux Carre is made with Bulliet Rye Whiskey, Hennessey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura Bitters, and Peychaud’s Bitters.  A newer cocktail, the Fleur des Lis, was created by our bartender Parker Davis in 2007 and is made with Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germaine, lemon juice, cucumber, ginger ale, and soda water.

The 21st Amendment La Louisiane at Hotel Mazarin

Cocktails at The 21st Amendment La Louisiane New Orleans
Chris McIntyre Crafting Cocktails
Hotel Mazarin’s history starts with alcohol, so it should come as no surprise that two of New Orleans’ best hotel bars belong to this hotel.  While today New Orleans is all about the cocktail, it used to be the brewing capital of the South.  The building which houses Hotel Mazarin was once part of the American Brewing Company before it was converted into a hotel and restaurant. 

The 21st Amendment La Louisiane Bar New Orleans
Mobsters Cover the Walls
The 21st Amendment La Louisiane is so named because the bar is in the previous location of the La Louisiane, a restaurant run by gangsters.  The mobster theme is celebrated at 21st Amendment, with portraits of mobsters decorating the walls.  21st Amendment is a speakeasy style bar inspired by the days of Prohibition.

21st Amendment Bar New Orleans
21st Amendment Bar
21st Amendment does two things really well, cocktails and music.  The bar features live local music every single night, with up to three bands playing on weekend evenings.  While the bar is half a block off of Bourbon Street, it does not cater to the Hurricane clientele.  21st Amendment’s craft cocktails tweak era specific recipes and contain homemade syrups, infused spirits, fresh juices made daily, and locally grown herbs, topped off with a real cherry garnish rather than brightly colored translucent ones that look like they suffered through a dose of radiation. 

Music at The 21st Amendment La Louisiane New Orleans
Live Music Every Night
21st Amendment’s head honcho Chris McIntyre was inspired by the bars of Europe, especially Belgium, where each bar served a completely different and regional beer.   21st Amendment is similar in that they make classic cocktails but are always inventing new ones.  21st Amendment’s featured cocktail is the La Louisiane, made with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, Benedictine, Carpano Antica Vermouth, and bitters.  An unusual cocktail made with a house infusion is the Anybody Wanna Peanut, made with peanut infused Maker’s Mark, honey syrup, and Xocolatl Mole Bitters.  According to Chris the key is to not infuse the Maker’s Mark for too long.  The drink tastes even better if you order it in the voice of Andre the Giant.

Patrick’s Bar Vin at Hotel Mazarin

Wine at Patrick's Bar Vin New Orleans
Patrick's Best Kept Secret
Hotel Mazarin’s other bar is Patrick’s Bar Vin, one of only two wine bars in the French Quarter and eight in the entirety of New Orleans.  What makes Patrick’s Bar Vin one of the best hotel bars of New Orleans is its manager and namesake, Patrick Van Hoorebeek.  Patrick is well known in New Orleans for his knack for making his patrons feel welcome, at ease, and part of the family.  One gentleman at the bar described Patrick as the “finest unofficial ambassador to the rest of the civilized world.” 

La Chouffe Belgian Beer at Patrick's Bar Vin New Orleans
La Chouffe Belgian Beer
Patrick is from Belgium and has brought a piece of Belgium to the bar with the Manneken-Pis, always attired in a seasonal costume, which greets visitors when they enter the front gate.  Patrick is also the king of the Krewe of Cork.

Manneken-Pis at Patrick's Bar Vin New Orleans
Patrick Bar Vin's Very Own Manneken-Pis
While Patrick’s Bar Vin is first and foremost a wine bar, it also serves cocktails and beer.  There is only one beer on tap, Duvel Tripel, but Patrick has some special bottled Belgian beers in the back and, just like in Belgium, serves them in their matching glasses. 

Patrick's Bar Vin Wine Lockers New Orleans
A Peek Into Patrick's Bar Vin's Wine Lockers
While the bar is just off of Bourbon Street, 80% of Patrick’s Bar Vin’s clientele are locals.  Because Patrick wants to take care of the locals, in addition to wines by the glass that range anywhere from $8 to $25, Patrick keeps a white and a red on the menu at $7 a glass, simply called Patrick’s Best Kept Secret because he wants his repeat customers to be able to enjoy a good but inexpensive glass of wine when they come in to unwind after a long day at work.  Of course on the opposite end of the spectrum is Patrick’s clientele who own wine lockers in the bar.  The custom wine lockers are climate controlled and engraved with the owners’ names, and there is currently a waiting list for the privilege.

Bourbon “O” at Bourbon Orleans Hotel

Steven Lemley Bartender at Bourbon "O" New Orleans
Steven Lemley, Mixologist of the Year 2013
Bourbon “O” is the only craft cocktail bar on Bourbon Street and is part of the historic Bourbon Orleans Hotel.  In its previous lives the Bourbon Orleans Hotel was a convent, school, theater, ballroom, and government building.  It is also known as the most haunted hotel in New Orleans.

Bourbon “O” is also the only bar in New Orleans with a seasonal menu.  The ever changing drink menu is a collaborative effort by the staff with inventive creations made with house-made mixers and fresh squeezed juices.  The cocktail menu contains historic New Orleans cocktails like the Sazerac, French 75, and Grasshopper, and also has seasonal cocktails, some of which are named after the staff member who created them. 

Grasshopper Bourbon "O" New Orleans
The cocktails and bartenders of Bourbon “O” are so good that New Orleans Magazine named bar director Cheryl Charming 2014 Mixologist of the Year and bartender Steven Lemley 2013 Mixologist of the Year.  These top shelf mixologists also offer cocktail classes on Fridays and Saturdays, Big Easy Cocktails with Miss Charming and Happy Hour Lab with Steven Lemley, Jr.

The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt New Orleans

The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans
The Roosevelt New Orleans
The Roosevelt New Orleans is another of New Orleans’ historic hotels.  Guests have included Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Ray Charles.  Another famous resident was Huey P. Long, Governor of Louisiana in the 1920s and the source of one of The Roosevelt’s legends.  The story goes that Long kept a locked deduct box, containing funds contributed to his campaign by state employees, at his Roosevelt Hotel headquarters.  When he was killed the deduct box was never found.

Ramos Gin Fizz at Sazerac Bar New Orleans
Ramos Gin Fizz at the Sazerac Bar
Huey P. Long frequented The Roosevelt’s Sazerac Bar.  The Sazerac Bar is dark with an African walnut bar and Paul Ninas murals adorning the walls.  Bartenders wear black ties and white jackets while concocting the Sazerac Bar’s New Orleans staple cocktails like the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz.

The Victorian Lounge at The Columns Hotel

The Columns Hotel New Orleans
The Columns Hotel
The Columns Hotel is located on Saint Charles Avenue in the Garden District.  The building was designed by New Orleans architect Thomas Sully for Simon Hernsheim, a tobacco merchant, in 1883.  After serving as a private home for decades it became a hotel, and in 1980 the property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

Louisiana Sunrise The Victorian Lounge The Columns Hotel New Orleans
Louisiana Sunrise
The Victorian Lounge is known even outside of New Orleans as one of the country’s best bars.  The Victorian Lounge is dark yet colorful, with a mahogany bar and walls, bronze chandeliers, and high muraled ceilings.  The Victorian Lounge serves both classic New Orleans cocktails as well as Columns’ originals like the St. Charles Breeze with muddled mint, lime, cucumber, Hendrick’s gin, Chartreuse, tonic, and Sprite or the Louisiana Sunrise with Cointreau, Stoli vodka, fresh fruit juices, muddled mint, and ginger beer.

Thank you to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Hotel Collection for hosting our trip to New Orleans and making this post possible.  As always, all opinions are my own.  For updates on what is going on in New Orleans, follow the New Orleans CVB on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Katherine Belarmino has been traveling for over ten years on a quest to see as much of the world as possible, experience new cultures, and sample other cuisines and libations. She also writes the travel blog Travel the World, which journals her world travels with her husband Romeo and seeks to encourage others to take the time to travel.