Due to the nature of the trips I've taken to New Orleans, I (surprisingly) haven't had much opportunity to sample many of the city's famous cocktails. Bummer, I know.
On this past trip, my number one destination to try was Latitude 29 - Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's very own tiki bar in the French Quarter. Greg and I ventured out on our first night in town with my sister and her boyfriend. We had already gone to dinner at Tableau with my mom beforehand so we unfortunately weren't hungry enough to sample the food. From what my sister tells me, everything she's tried on the menu in the past has been delicious. We did, however, get to sample a good portion of Latitude 29's cocktails by ordering about three drinks each and sharing sips.
Inside, Latitude 29 is dimly lit with a warm yellow cast and has more classy tiki styling than tiki kitsch, which you get at more historic spots like Tiki Ti. The map behind the bar reminds me a lot of the one at the Tonga Hut North Hollywood. On the side with table seating, some carvings from Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room are featured above, which I thought was a nice touch. Those drummers are also part of the decor at Trader Sam's.
For a place with such excellent drinks and such a big name behind it, I was surprised that it wasn't very crowded when we went (it was a week night, I guess). People seemed to slowly trickle in and out. That was definitely fine with me though - we got to enjoy the atmosphere and plenty of drinks!
Now, for the drinks:
When we got there, my sister was drinking the signature Latitude 29 cocktail ("Eight-year Demerara rum, passion fruit purée, our own Madagascar vanilla syrup, orange, pineapple and lemon"). This is one of the drinks (maybe the only drink?) where you get a swizzle stick so make sure to order it if you want to leave with some souvenirs. It's also delicious and the glass comes wrapped in what I think was a banana leaf so it's definitely a solid, fun choice.
I started with a Pontchartrain Pearl Diver, which, on the menu is described as "an 'iced buttered rum': our honey-butter-spice mix blended with passion fruit, lime and Jamaica rum." It looked great in pictures and reviews I had seen online prior to visiting, but I don't think I was prepared for how buttery it was actually going to taste. It threw me off for a second, I think mainly because I haven't had hot buttered rum (or any buttered beverage) ever. It was definitely still tasty but you need to be prepared for that rich flavor!
I also ordered the Kea Colada ("A Piña Colada and then some: Jamaica and Virgin islands rums swirled with coconut cream, lime and pineapple") since I always like drinks with a little bit of coconut. This one was also very good but it got me thinking about how badly I need to get back to Bootlegger Tiki for their Pod Thai. They look very similar in presentation but taste very different.
Greg ordered the Paniolo ("Yee-haw and aloha: Kentucky bourbon and Hawaiian macadamia nut liqueur shaken with lime, our own cranberry syrup and a dash of molé bitters") which is a great option for anybody who doesn't love rum as much as the rest of us. I remember there being a distinct flavor to this, I think mainly due to the mole bitters.
He also tried the Hawaii 504, which is "Chinese five-spice suspended in honey and shaken with Virgin Islands rum, ginger liqueur, lime and orange juices." All he remembers is that it was a little gingery. Good job, Greg. I remember there being some kick to it.
My sister and her boyfriend split the Lapu Lapu (bowl) which was delicious (as I think every Lapu Lapu I've ever tried has been).
Her boyfriend ordered some things that were definitely unlike anything I've tried in the past...but I have zero memory of what those actually were.
My sister also ordered a Mai Tai. After the distinct flavorings of the other drinks, the Mai Tai was a little standard but still very good. Doesn't beat the best one I've had so far though - the 1944 Mai Tai from Trader Vic's in Emeryville.
Overall, everything was delicious, unique, and top-rate. Greg & I agree that these are the best tiki drinks we've had at any tiki bar and we can't wait to go back.
We really wanted to try Tiki Tolteca, which is located on the same block as Latitude 29, but this trip ended up being too jam-packed with other meals, events, etc. So, on the table for the next trip: another visit to Beachbum Berry's bar to sample the food and some more drinks (can we just taste the whole menu?!) and our first visit to Tiki Tolteca.
It's also worth mentioning one other spot that I really enjoy in New Orleans, I think because it offers a really old-school vibe: the Sazerac Bar. I visited this place on my first trip because I felt like it would have a pretty legitimate Sazerac given its name. I had always loved that cocktail when I had ordered it in LA, so I definitely had to try it in the city where it had originated. I liked that the Sazerac Bar was tucked away beyond the opulent lobby of the Roosevelt and that it felt a little like a time warp inside. The bartenders' uniforms, the old absinthe taps, the hand-painted murals, and the general lack of cell phone service definitely added to the atmosphere.
This time around, I took Greg so he could try their signature drink ("Sazerac 6 Year Rye Whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters, Sugar, Herbsaint Rinsed Glass") and, since I've been favoring rum & gin over whiskey lately, I opted for another classic: the Ramos Gin Fizz ("Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Fresh Citrus, Cream, Egg Whites, Sugar, Orange Flower Water, shaken until frothy and topped with Club Soda"). Both were superb [insert perfection hand emoji here].
Not of too much significance, but we also took advantage of Commander's Palace's 25 cent martinis. Go at lunch. You can get three for each entree you order. They have four different flavors. We tried the Classic, the Commander's (with blue curaçao), and Ray's Melon (I'm assuming with Midori?). I'm not really a martini fan, but you can't beat the novelty of such cheap drinks at such a fancy establishment! Oh, and the food of course!
I'm hoping our next trip will be a little more cocktail-heavy so please let us know about your favorite spots to get drinks in New Orleans in the Comments section below! We can't wait to try some more!