Drinking, New Orleans
One of the first things I was told when I arrived in New Orleans was the recommendation to be careful with “hurricane” cocktails, because their sweet taste is deceiving, and there is more alcohol in them than one may suspect.
I had one, but no more because it was indeed a bit too sweet for my taste. Anyway I enquired about the recipe, and I found that one glass typically contains 4 oz (118 ml) of rum.
This cocktail was invented in New Orleans in the ‘40s, at Pat O’Brien’s Bar. The name derives from the glasses used to serve it, shaped like hurricane lamps.
New Orleans is famous for its special drinks. Order a hurricane while there.
But New Orleans is also one of the few american cities where you can have a drink on the street. As long as it is not in a glass or a bottle, (plastic is ok).
They even have signs about that in Bourbon Street.
Many of New Orleans' bars are open 24 hours. It's not unusual to find yourself semi-conscious at a corner bar while gradually remembering that you have something to take care of or need to do.
It's 9:00 am. Are your shoes on??? (it's important to look for your shoes, because many times they'll just get lost. I'm serious.)
The person in this photo appears to have just nodded off....napping after binge drinking, perhaps?
So, you're looking to buy a famous Hurricane from Pat O's, tired from a long day of sightseeing, and the entrance to Pat O's on Bourbon is half a mile long (.9 km for the European's out there ;-) )
Well! Don't stand in line for 2 hours, just head toward the Jackson Brewery. What will you find there you ask? Pat O's on the river! Without the line (and the cool ambience of being on Bourbon) you can get yourself that long-awaited Hurricane and relax with the breeze in your face coming of the Mississippi River.
Those who are familiar with my travel pages have surely noticed that I'm not much of a nightlife person when I travel since I usually like to get up early and be the first in line when museums open. However, spending a week in New Orleans definitely brought out the party animal in me! As strange as it might seem to talk about drinking as a local custom, alcohol simply is everywhere on and off Bourbon Street. When we first got to our hotel, we bumped into a young lady who was getting ready to leave after a week of partying with her girlfriends. They had some bottles left over and instead of getting rid of them, they chose to give them to us - needless to say, our week was off to a good start! We soon discovered that most bars in the French Quarter serve drinks in plastic cups that you can take away and drink on the street, something that is pretty hard to resist on a really hot day. Although I did see a lot of people walking around slightly tipsy (and probably was one of them at some point!), I didn't run into any really drunk people so it would seem that while people come to New Orleans to have a good time, most don't go overboard. But it's still a good idea to drink lots of water and pack some Tylenols just in case!
That's my nickname for the little mobile cart that greets you as you step into the New Orleans airport terminal.
Like Vegas with the ubiquitous slot machines, there's simply no escaping the omnipresence of alcohol in New Orleans, nor the shameless promotion of it - from the very moment you disembark up to the last second you board the plane.
You gotta love that!!!
It's all true. New Orleans bars have no mandatory closing times so anybody who wants to can pretty much find a place to party 24 hours a day. Not that I recommend it. You can also drink in the streets as long as it's out of a plastic container. All of the bars have a stack of plastic cups by the door or on the bar so if you want to change venues just grab one, pour your drink in and go. Many places serve in plastic to begin with to make get-aways even quicker. It's not always OK to take a drink from one establishment into another - there's usually a sign outside the bar if this is the case. Alcohol can also be purchased on Sundays.
The drinking age is 21 and they will card you if you look anywhere close to underage. The Quarter (especially Bourbon Street) is patrolled and they have a low tolerance for public intoxication beyond reason. Granted, "reasonable" probably has a whole different definition in New Orleans than in other cities but don't expect to relieve yourself in the gutters, pick a fight, pass out in the middle of the street or otherwise make a real nuisance of yourself without intervention. They also have strict OMVI laws so pocket your car keys and take a cab if you've had too much.
While many of the bars don't have cover charges, a one-drink minumum is mandatory. If you wander in just to catch some live music, they will likely ask you to order up. Same applies to use of restroom facilities - they are reserved for customers only so you may be asked to place an order or go elsewhere.
Dutch courage is all very well, but to really engage with the local ladies, one has to have studied the very metaphysics of the intractable problem that is 'The Initial Approach'.
As demonstrated in American Pie, the stammering, gibbering, incoherent approach is all very well and good - for Hollywood comedy, but in real life, and in my experience the direct and honest approach works best:
"Hi, I'm the U.K.'s youngest cardiac surgeon - do you want to get hammered with me?"
True, this gem has been used only once to devastating effect (November 2001, Cat's Meow) but in my magnanimity, I share it with the world.
Disclaimer: I am not a surgeon, cardiac or otherwise, but it sounded like a good thing to say at the time. Generally, avoid talking bs.
After you have drunk 8 litres of whiskey, 4 gallons of premium brew, consumed 6 cheesy nacho sides, 4 garlic breads, and 2 plates of crawfish, then, and only then smooch up to some likely looking lass and get her to smear her telephone number in lipstick all over your bloated, adipose-ridden, sweaty and hairy chest.
It shouldnt work people, but it does.
If you walk on Bourbon St, plan to buy a drink everywhere you go. Places require it - no exceptions. It starts to cost some $$$ if you're in a place with some good music, but isn't that what you came for? If not, lots of places offer 3 for 1 specials where you can drink listening to the same old ...
One of the strangest customs that I have ever seen, and only in New Orleans, was a drive-thru Daiquiri shop! I actually witnessed cars pulling up and ordering their drinks just like at a coffee shop! After paying the cash, the patrons received a covered drink container and a straw sealed in paper - what you did with those two individual items was your responsibility!
It is legal in New Orleans to drink alcohol on the street. This comes in handy when you're waiting for a table in a restaurant and the bar is very small and crowded. Order a drink and ask for a go-cup -- then take your drink outside and wait in the fresh air.
Sidebar: One of my daughter's friends, accustomed to this New Orleans custom, asked for a go-cup in a Los Angeles bar and was met with an incredulous stare. :)
New Orleans tends to have a very laissez-faire attitude. I saw this sign and thought it was great! I wonder what was inside the shop and if anyone every really called. I guess I should have called, but all the curious possibilities may have been crushed by the reality. I often prefer the multitude of questions that signs like this one represent.
The drinking age in New Orleans is 21 years old and this is enforced. Drinking in public is permitted as long as you do not have an open or glass container. Be sure to ask the bar or restaurant for a "to go cup".
I found the female bartenders to be extremely rude in the French Quarter, a point to being ridiculously so. I never had a problem with the male ones, but the females ones, once they served you your drink, would look at you for a second waiting for a tip, or they would say something snotty to you when you didn't tip. I'm sorry, but I'm not about to tip another 50 cents when I just bought a $6.00 drink with not-so-exemplary service!! Really, it infuriated me all around the area... I once had one girl motioning my 75 cents change into her tip bucket... and when I shook my head no, she threw it into a bed of ice, where I couldn't get it. Anyway, generally I just walked away mad to avoid any problems once I left the establishment. I am not very trusting of a lot of people here, and I know that's bad, but the experience I got her was that anyone will do anything to make a buck here. Maybe you'll have better luck than me.