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Bartenders’ night out: New Orleans

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Meriam Benezra at The Avenue Pub / Photo by Craig Mulcahy

Meriam Benezra at The Avenue Pub / Photo by Craig Mulcahy

Just got into town? Steal insider recs from the guys and gals behind some of the country’s best beer bars. Here’s where a music-loving, New Orleans-based bartender drinks, eats and rocks out on her nights off:

“I lived in New Orleans pre-storm from 1998 to 2002 and there was no craft beer scene to speak of. Then I had the pleasure of moving to northern California and working at Anderson Valley Brewing Company in the tasting room, and brewing in their basement setup when I had some time off. Now that I’ve come back, craft beer is here; it’s built a sense of adventure and community. One of my favorite places to go is called Barrel Proof, a couple blocks down from The Avenue Pub where I work. They have an amazing whiskey selection so I go there to ‘study.’ They’ve also got a great bottled beer selection, and it’s a low-lit environment to relax in. For fancy cocktails, I go to Coquette where my friend Ashley has put together such a beautiful cocktail menu. The food is superior, too. It’s a romantic place with brick walls and chandeliers; my boyfriend and I went there for our anniversary. Bar Tonique is an amazing cocktail bar also, in the French Quarter. Music-wise, you can’t beat seeing Rebirth Brass Band at Maple Leaf Bar on Tuesdays; it’s such an amazing venue. For Rebirth to have a residency there, it’s like ‘Am I dreaming? I can see Rebirth every Tuesday?’ I also like The Spotted Cat for jazz. I’ve been going there since the late ’90s; it’s an institution. People really, really love these New Orleans institutions as if they were human beings. I’d also hit Saturn Bar. Even though the beer selection isn’t as craft as at Avenue Pub, it’s still such a great, family-owned bar. They throw an old-school rock ’n’ roll dance party twice a month where the DJ actually plays real records, 45s and stuff. But I will also be extremely blunt and say that part of the magic of New Orleans is finding these places of your own and keeping them like your magical little secrets.”
-Meriam Benezra, The Avenue Pub



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