New Orleans is a good-time city; mix in this year’s Super Bowl crowd, and it’s an all-out bash. While cocktails reign supreme, the beer scene’s making some noise, too, so cheer on your team and laissez les bons temps brewler (let the good times brew).
By Brian Yaeger
Though the Jackson Brewery is now a shopping mall and Katrina prevented the Dixie Brewery from turning 100, the Big Easy is still brewing. New Orleans Lagers and Ales Brewing (Irish Channel, nolabrewing.com) entered the market in 2008 with a light blonde ale, coupled with the approachable NOLA Brown. Soon enough, they were turning people onto Hopitoulas IPA, named for the brewery’s address on Tchoupitoulas Street. Between its brand-new Mecha Hopzilla Double IPA and other creatively brewed (and named) seasonals such as Hurricane Saison, it’s no wonder the Friday open house brewery tours are flooded (with people). Across Lake Pontchartrain, Covington Brewhouse (Covington, covingtonbrewhouse.com) has three beers on the market, including the flagship Pontchartrain Pilsner, but in the land of voodoo, they have some soon-to-debut tricks up their sleeve. And while you’re on the north shore, visit local stalwart Abita (Abita Springs, abita.com) at the new brewery or the pub housed in the original brewhouse. The new 25th anniversary Select Series (which celebrates with creations like an imperial oyster stout) and Big Beers lineup (including Double Dog, an imperial version of the iconic Turbodog) demonstrate the brewery’s still on its game.
The good times roll after dinner, before a concert, or anytime since bars are open 24 hours a day—part of the reason it’s the City that Care Forgot. Take Avenue Pub (Lower Garden District, theavenuepub.com), a hit among beer geeks and cooking staffs (yes, restaurants close); relax upstairs in the balcony bar overlooking iconic St. Charles Avenue. Several of the taps are locals and the bottle list, as Satchmo himself might say, is worthy of building a dream on. d.b.a. (Marigny, dbabars.com/dbano) offers the best of everything, considering that adjacent to the 20-tap bar is a stage graced by the liveliest rock, blues, jazz, Cajun and brass bands around, all on the best nightlife crawl in town: Frenchmen Street. The Bulldog (Uptown, draftfreak.com) on Magazine Street, another excellent spot to soak up local culture, focuses on draft beer as indicated by the oft-photographed water feature with dozens of fountains springing from actual tap handles. The second location in Midtown is equally great. If you’re ailing from too much ale, there’s a Cure (Freret, curenola.com). This forward-thinking hotspot on Freret Street proffers bitters by the dropper and bucketfuls of swank courtesy of award-winning bartenders. The kicker: While the restaurant-bar is located in a renovated firehouse, it’s mercifully smoke-free. If you’re after the bacchanalian Bourbon Street experience, slip into Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (French Quarter, lafittesblacksmithshop.com), one of America’s oldest bars. There, the hurricanes contain actual fruit juice (and seemingly even more rum) yet are still cheaper than the other guys’. After one or two, sing along with the endearingly awful piano man.
The Crescent City’s mélange of Cajun, Creole and nouvelle cuisine is arguably the greatest culinary indulgence America has to offer. Boucherie (Uptown, boucherie-nola.com) delights with large plates of pulled pork cake with potato confit and comforts with sandwiches like a 12-hour roast beef po’ boy. Feeling gluttonous? Krispy Kreme bread pudding. Furthermore, it’s one of the few restaurants with a bona fide beer menu. In nightlife-rich CBD, Cochon (Central Business District, cochonrestaurant.com) hosts occasional beer dinners, but diners flock here for all its porcine goodness. From cracklins (spicy pork rinds) to cane-glazed pork cheeks, it’s pure hog heaven season after season—but don’t overlook the fried alligator apps. The newest destination white-tablecloth restaurant, R’evolution (French Quarter, revolutionnola.com), comes from revered chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto. From top to bottom, the menu sends the head and stomach spinning: beer-battered crab beignets, a triptych of quail including an absinthe-glazed iteration, and their signature “Death by Gumbo.” The steak is unparalleled down to the option of foie gras butter, but save room for the bananas Foster soufflé. Of course, no trip to N’awlins is complete without starting and/or ending your day at Café du Monde (French Quarter, cafedumonde.com) for its classic sugar-dusted beignets.
Even among the litany of luxury hotels along Canal Street, The Roosevelt Hotel (CBD, therooseveltneworleans.com) oozes Southern elegance from the chandeliered lobby to suites spacious enough to host Mardi Gras krewes. Naturally, its storied Sazerac Bar is a best bet to order the namesake cocktail. The Parisian Courtyard Inn (Lower Garden District, theparisiancourtyardinn.com) B&B offers modern conveniences in a luxurious, renovated 1846 guesthouse with classic New Orleans charm down to the slate courtyards and wrought-iron balconies. And it’s only a block from The Avenue Pub, so you can stumble back in time for breakfast. •