A Spirited Stroll

July 28, 2014
As the summer sizzle fades gently into fall, New Orleanians and visitors alike are enjoying the mild autumn climate that encourages walks in the colorful city.

Stroll along Royal Street and take in the art and antique emporiums, or The Shops at Canal Place on North Peters and Canal, the French Market, the Cabildo and Presbytere at Jackson Square, the Historic New Orleans Collection on Chartres, Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi River, the architecturally amazing Vieux Carre, and so many other sights to behold.

And as evening beckons, the entertaining bars and bistros that enliven the spectacular New Orleans section renowned worldwide as the French Quarter present other opportunities to engage in these enchanting surroundings. Following is a little 3 block suggested stroll, both "on" and just "off" Bourbon street where guests and locals can experience different settings and spirits as they walk along from place to place.

Each spot selected has its own charm and offers a different thematic perspective. One may be a red hot, trendy, nightclub; another a traditional New Orleans cocktail lounge fronting a noted steakhouse; yet another featuring artisanal craft cocktails in one of the city's most esteemed and exciting new restaurants; while still another has a fascinating historical theme with drinks to match.

Our first stop -- the 21st Amendment bar in the European styled, luxury boutique Hotel Mazarin, located in the former La Louisiane restaurant space, revels in the bygone days - especially the cocktail phenomenon of the Prohibition period.

Transcending the post World War I. years, the Constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation and transportation of alcohol continued through the Roaring '20s into the post-Great Depression 1930s. In 1933, the 21st Amendment, repealing the 18th Amendment Volstead Act of 1919, was passed.

"What America needs now is a drink," were the buoyant words reportedly said by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, upon the ratification of the 21st amendment.

Located just off Bourbon street, at 725 Iberville, the cozy bar is designed as an homage to the country's both glorious and notorious Prohibition Era -- glorious in the ingenuity of the bartenders of the era in creating sublime concoctions when alcohol was albeit unavailable; and notorious in the rise and proliferation of organized crime.

Black and white images of gangland's most infamous characters adorn the walls along with the tools of their trade -- tommy guns. Historically outfitted bartenders add to the "speakeasy" aura. A small curtained-off seating area beckons guests to clandestine glass-clinking as well!

Bartenders Jason Sorbet, Sam Curtiss, Sarah Carlton, Jesse Faulk and bar manager Chris McIntyre prepare custom, hand-crafted cocktails with house made syrups, infused spirits and locally grown herbs gathered from McIntyre's home garden.

The bar's signature drink, La Louisiane, invented at the former La Louisiane restaurant, is a blend of Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, Benedictine, Carpano Antica, Vermouth and bitters.

Another of the bar's house infusions is the Frenchy, with strawberry vodka, floral syrup, and fresh lemon juice topped with Monmousseau Brut sparkling.

Another popular favorite, Mac's Sazerac, harkens back to the mid-1800s New Orleans' original with Decortet Cognac VS, honey syrup, Peychaud's Bitters and Lucid Absinthe.

The bar also features a three shot Bourbon Flight, Happy Hours Wednesday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. with $3. domestic beers, $4. house wines and $5. well drinks.

Mondays are retro "mobster movie" nights. Guests are asked to dress up in gangster and moll get-ups for 20 percent off drinks all Monday evening. Live music is played nightly with popular jazz groups like the Steve Pistorius Trio, New Orleans Ragweeds and Ibervillianaires.

As you exit the retro bar and re-enter the present, you are only a few doors from the next stop. Heading away from the river, cross Bourbon street and about mid-block, you'll see V Sushi and Martini Bar at 821 Iberville.

Upon entering, guests will be swept up in the ultra modern glitz and glamour the club offers; a sleek and stunning design with exquisite area lighting.

In the front room, comfortable seating arrangements with semi-private reserved spaces are available for individual groups' exclusive events including special televised programming such as sports matches.

A nearby service bar tends to the beverage needs of guests at the split-level seating area. On weekends, a guest DJ spins music for both listeners and dancers.

Deeper into the room, the long main bar curves around the rear wall. Guests can order food here as well as libations. More than two dozen martinis are on the list, Nearly 20 Sakis are available as well as more than two dozen wines by the glass and an equal number of beers.

Just a few steps through a blue light- rimmed doorway next to the bar, a splendid sushi bar serves 30 different regular and specialty rolls. V's is not all sushi and sashimi, however. A fabulous array of Asian fusion dishes appear on the menu.

V Sushi and Martini Bar is open 7 days, Monday through Saturday 4 p.m. - 2 a.m., Sunday 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Daily drink specials are available such as 2-for-1 Saki Tuesdays and 2-for-1 well drinks for Friday Ladies' Nights.

Upon our exit we head back towards the river a few steps and turn left on Bourbon Street. While most people would agree that New Orleans' most famous or "infamous" street is Bourbon, it can be somewhat intense with the combined crush of music, crowds, and overall noise.

Now might be the right time to take refuge just off the corner at 215 Bourbon in the calm, relaxing setting of Galatoire's 33 Bar and Steak. Opening this one door will bring you into an oasis from the sensory bombardment that sometimes can seem overwhelming while at the same time intoxicating.

Galatoire's, arguably the most fabulous Creole restaurant of all, has a new next-door neighbor: Galatoire's 33 Bar and Steak is both an eating and drinking emporium for your pleasure.

Housed in an historic building, this most charming address welcomes you into a throwback of comfort from another age. The bar is grand, in the Galatoire's style, accented with a tile-floor, pressed-tin ceiling, large back bar mirror, lots of fine woods, and professionals who know the proper and classical fashion of how to mix a drink and serve it.

All the New Orleans classics live here: French 75, Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, and Pimm's Cup. Then there are the spin-offs: Mexican 75, French 33, 1840 Sazerac, Fire and Iced Tea, Zaya Old Fashion, 209 Cocktail, and even a Flower Child.

Bar bites from Galatoire's? Who could pass those up? Lobster Roll, Baked Oysters, Goute 33, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, and even an Artisanal Cheese Plate, all from the kitchen of Galatoire's renowned Chef Michael Sichel.

And if those lovely libations stir your appetite for something more, the full restaurant menu is available either in the bar or the restaurant's elegant dining room. The bar's grand piano comes alive Thursday through Saturday evenings, 9 p.m. - midnight for some more soothing solace.

Happy Hour is 5-7 p.m. Monday though Thursday.

To continue our short journey, turn left on Bourbon, walk to the next corner, cross Bourbon going towards the river. Then Cross Bienville and walk to 777 Bienville Street to enter the exquisite Restaurant R'evolution Bar.

A partnership of famed, award winning Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto, Restaurant R'evolution is a composite of vast culinary knowledge and ingenuity reflecting and expressing the cultures of the seven nations that influenced Louisiana cuisine.

Bar R'evolution acknowledges the contributions New Orleans made to the country's cocktail culture and with every cocktail, preserves New Orleans' cocktail legacy.

R'evolution mixologists create variations on the classics, the Sazerac and Vieux Carre and others, and are fond of recreating -- often with a modern twist -- seasonal cocktails inspired by pre-Prohibition-era concoctions. The Grenada is another superb Bar R'evolution cocktail with gin, lemon and pomegranate.

Fresh ingredients like fruit, produce and herbs are key to the preparations, many of which are sourced from Chef Folse's White Oak Plantation in Baton Rouge.

In addition to the fantastic cocktail selections, R'evolution Wine Director Molly Wismeier plucks a few delightful wines out of the list of 39 by-the-glasses, to pair with the bar's small plates menu items.

Named to Wine Enthusiast's "Best 100 Wine Restaurants" this past year, Wismeier offers a number of options for guests.

However, with prime oyster season slated for a fall kick-off, she selects a ready-to- pour, 1998 Jean Aubron, Melon de Bourgogne "Grand Fief de L'Audigere" Muscadet magnum to share with the pre- or post-game crowd over platters of fresh raw oysters. "A classic pairing," she comments.

Grower Champagnes are not often seen on a by -the-glass list, but here at Revolution, guests can order a glass to get a taste of what all the fuss is about. Wismeier chooses a Paul Bara Grand Cru Rose' Champagne to serve alongside a delicious chilled appetizer such as the Burrata cheese with Choupique Caviar, scallion oil and cracked black pepper.

A glass of 2011 Leth Gruner Veltliner is not only refreshing but partners well with the restaurant's crunchy raw vegetable salad served with a preserved lemon vinaigrette, notes Wismeier.

The Solo Board featuring six salumi selections from Chef Nathan Richard, a Thibodaux, Louisiana, native, with house made accompaniments can be best enjoyed partnered with a glass or two of 2012 Bertani Corvina Veronese and Rondinella Valpolicella blend, according to Wismeier.

She also recommends a 2009 Chateau des Tours, a Cotes du Rhone Grenache blend, which would make for a perfect pairing with any number of dishes either on the bar menu or Restaurant R'evolution's main menu, also available to bar patrons.

Restaurant R'evolution is open 7 days. The bar opens Monday and Tuesday evenings at 5: 30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Sunday, 10: 30 a.m.