Savor the Cocktails… Revel in the Music

May 10, 2016
One of the real joys of spending time in the French Quarter is transitioning from having a good day -- and most days here are very good -- into the anticipation and then the realization of a very good evening in one of the world’s most desired destinations.

At some point, maybe during the course of the unfolding day, taking a break could be just the ticket.

In either case, at whatever time, the idea of an adult beverage, enjoyed in comfortable surroundings, seems to be the right answer. A perfectly balanced, delightfully flavored drink can do wonders for stress, shopping fatigue or completing a rushed day’s schedule.

Or, it could serve as the “ice-breaker;” the party starter to kick off a fun evening. But, even with the correct and satisfying beverage, there is still room for improvement: add music to the scenario, and perhaps a bar bite.

What could be more fitting than a great cocktail and a soothing piano? Where is the savage beast who would not be moved with an excellent and refreshing libation accompanied by live music, and a tasty snack? Just the thought of the combo races the heart and causes the mind to seek out such pleasures.

Fortunately, if you’re already in the Quarter, you are in the middle of a place that thrives on drinking, dining and entertainment.

The Bistreaux at Maison Dupuy sits on an important corner, Toulouse and Burgundy, and the restaurant, bar and stunning courtyard are everything you would expect in the French Quarter. Music only adds to the ambience of the setting.

While you are soaking in the surroundings, why not add to the pleasure of the moment with a well-crafted cocktail? At The Bistreaux, the mixologists – led by head bartender Joshua Matassa -- pride themselves on drinks featuring seasonal fruits. Louisiana grows some of the best fruits in the world, and depending on the season, they find their way into the drinks.

“This time of year strawberries abound and the strawberry jalapeno margarita is a particular favorite,” noted Matassa. Satsumas are a special breed of orange, grown downriver from New Orleans, and their sweet juice lends itself to an enjoyable cocktail, done only here, The Bistreaux’s Satsuma signature Satsuma Squirt, is comprised of Bayou Liqueur, distilled in the Cajun country just west of New Orleans, to which the bartender adds fresh lemon, club soda, and maybe an extra ounce of Bayou crystal rum.

Matassa also suggests checking out the Bizzle Fizzle with fresh cucumber, vodka, lemon juice, basil simple syrup and club soda. “It’s very refreshing, herbaceous and savory,” he says. The usual drinks are also outstanding, like a classic Moscow Mule, Pimm’s Cup, or the John Daly House Special.

By all means, don’t pass up the Bar Bite menu: Potato skins filled with barbecue cochon de lait, excellently fried wings with a variety of dipping sauces, or Abita Beer-battered onion rings, are all particular favorites. Menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and poolside dining are also available.

Happy Hours are everyday from 3-6 p.m., 7 days a week. Featuring $6 House wines and $3 Abita beer

The music happens every Friday and Saturday evening, 5-8 p.m. as well as during the Sunday Brunch, the locals’ favorite.

The French Quarter is made for discovery and over towards the River, in the French Market, are the legendary kissin’ cousins, The Market Café and the Gazebo Café. With New Orleans’ music playing all day, often into the night, these oases for food and drink are located among all the Market shops and are the kind of places you can sit yourself down and let the atmosphere take over.

Both cafes are known for their traditional Cajun and Creole cuisine, as well as their hearty breakfasts, po-boys, appetizers like crawfish beignets, popcorn shrimp and alligator sausage.

The drinks are generous and well-constructed. The Gazebo’s Bloody Mary is memorable. However, this place is not just a one-trick pony. The Gazebo also takes great pride in the Mudslide, Pina Colada and a classic Daiquiri, as well as a cool ice cream Daiquiri.

The Market Café offers a full line of lively libations as well… such a the Market Mary with Absolut Peppar, Hurricane, Creole Splash, Louisiana Lemonade, Flambeaux Juice and many more.

You know you want to …. So why not try the fried alligator nuggets right here? There is also jambalaya, some very good gumbo and a full menu of additional delights.

Getting back to the music, it’s all done outdoors, under the roof line but with a completely open-air concept. The breezes coming off the River, only a block away, are a natural cooling effect just like early New Orleanians enjoyed.

At the Gazebo, look for the talented Big Easy Blues & Jazz Band and the Jimmy Bean Ballero band. The Market Café often features the stylings of the Abe Thomas Jazz Band as well as the popular Jazz Cats.

For something a little more “clubby,” the Bombay Club is a lot like being in a members-only space. Mahogany walls, low ceilings, and shelves lined with books surround one of the most complete, cozy and elegant bars in the Quarter. Whatever your cocktail pleasure, the definitive rendition is made here. Pretty good wine list, by the glass and bottle, is also on hand.

Renowned as a cocktail center, New Orleans was the birthplace of many fashionable, creative cocktails. Countless classic and famous concoctions, most dating back into the 19th century, such as the Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, Vieux Carre, and the Grasshopper were invented here. Other cocktails like the Pimm’s Cup, French 75, Brandy Milk Punch and the Pisco Sour are associated with the city because of the excellent manner in which they are prepared here.

At Bombay Club, where Blake Kaiser is head bartender, the specialty is the Martini, made precisely the way guests’ prefer, but all of the other cocktails, including celebrated “New Orleans” drinks, are also prepared with excellence.

Happy Hours are 4 p.m.-7 p.m. daily. For your pleasure, $3 bar snacks are featured at the Bombay Club, including pork belly tacos, Guinness cheese dip and crispy boudin. In fact, if you wish to dine here, we recommend you make a reservation. The demand for tables usually outstrips the supply. Locals love this place and the kitchen takes a back seat to none other in town.

As for music, it’s every night, and it’s a rotating all-star roster of New Orleans’ musicians, including Philip Manuel, Leroy Jones Quartet, David Torkanowsky Trio, Matt Lemmler, and others. Depending on the evening and the featured artist, there is likely to be New Orleans jazz, popular styles, modern jazz, classical jazz, and swing.

One of the French Quarter’s most anticipated new spots is now in full swing, B.B.King’s Blues Club. No expense has been spared to deliver a proper Blues experience. And, despite its short time being open, it is already a huge success.

To assure a real New Orleans encounter, the Club’s head Bartender, Mr. Lynn Burgette, has created special drinks reflective of the club’s new home town and the core values of the founder. The Rock Me, Baby is a rum-based cocktail laced with plenty of fruit juices and liqueurs. Maybe the Hoochie-Coochie is more your speed, vodka-based with vanilla, melon and pineapple liqueurs, along with pineapple juice.

You may just want to toss caution to the winds and enjoy a Classic Party Gras Bowl, comprised of rum, amaretto, curacao, sweet and sour sodas and a few other items added for good measure.

The Club is music-inspired so music plays an important role in the festivities whenever the place is open, which is from 11 a.m. every day. The food can be categorized as American very-casual dining, with a heavy nod to New Orleans’ flavors and styles. Chef Syrena Johnson prepares chicken wings, gumbo, sliders, catfish, and great barbecue and more, all featured in a mash-up of the culture of the River towns, Memphis and New Orleans.

Sit at the bar, relax at a table or on the balcony, you will not miss a note, nor will you miss any of the cocktails or the cuisine. Enjoy!


The Bistreaux
In the Maison Dupuy Hotel
1001 Toulouse Street

The Gazebo Café
1016 – 1018 Decatur Street

The Bombay Club
830 Conti Street
In the Prince Conti Hotel

B.B.King’s Blues Café
1104 Decatur Street