I am always saddened by peoples’ dismissal of New Orleans as a party town … I mean, it totally is, but there’s a lot more to it than the partiers who are laissez les bons temps rouler-ing. I was delighted to get out of the French Quarter bubble on my last trip to visit the new Ace Hotel in the CBD (Central Business District) and dine at Seaworthy, the slightly “hidden” seafood restaurant marked by the eerie glow of a green neon sign.
The space is old school New Orleans, a little hipster and a little southern with elegant touches of brass here and … well, everywhere. You can choose to sit at the bar by the entrance that is both for booze and oysters–both of which were fresher than expected in many ways–at a table in the dimly lit dining room, or on the patio. Their patio is just about the closest thing as I’ve found to heaven in New Orleans (without being a tiki bar) thanks to the preservation of the building itself, the minimal (yet unmistakable) nautical decor, and the globe lights adorning every inch of the place.
The drink program here is very well done with bar director Lauren Schell at the helm. (See what I did there?) The cocktail list was a mix of classics (think Fishhouse Punch and Sidecars) and more “au courant” options like the Holywater (spiced rum, cognac, Green Chartreuse, almond syrup, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and angostura bitters) and the Good Ships/Wood Ships (the Tales of the Cocktail Daiquiri Seasonal Feature with El Dorado 5yr rum, Genepy des Alpes, pamplemousse liqueur, and lime). The wine and beer list are respectable with very limited but well selected options in both categories. (Really … there are only 11 by the glass options for wine making it a snap to choose which to order.)
As the name implies, the food menu is decidedly seafood-slanted. The oysters on the bar beg to be slurped as much as the drinks, so who were we to deny them the joy of being dinner? (Just ask for extra crackers if you’re into carb-loading your oysters.) Also not to be missed is their ceviche (Gulf fish, lime, brunoise of habañero chilies, sweet peppers, herbs) served with unexpectedly delicious grit crisps. The Gulf fish was surprisingly delicious and tender … and we may have ordered a second bowl of it.
Overall, the restaurant is worth a visit, if not for dinner for at least a happy hour with a couple (five) cocktails and a found of their fresh-as-they-get oysters.
SEAWORTHY at the Ace Hotel seaworthynola.com
630 Carondelet Street (Central Business District), New Orleans
I can tell you now that the moral of this story is that there’s more to Louisiana than New Orleans … like way more. So the next time you want to “laissez les bons temps rouler”, think outside (but don’t forget about) The Big Easy.
I recently enjoyed a visit to Lake Charles, the home of “The Spirit of Louisiana”, Bayou Rum, and then continued on to New Orleans. Throughout the week, we were treated to some really incredible, unique experiences courtesy of Bayou Rum and the Lake Charles and New Orleans CVBs.
After flying in, I settled into my digs at The Golden Nugget,a two-year old resort hotel and casino (read: still new and shiny) that is currently expanding, and gave the room a thrice-over. The rooms were surprisingly lovely … and huge … and all had balconies. Mine overlooked the giant Vegas-style pool complete with lazy river and cabanas, and the whole scene made me really angry for forgetting my swimsuit. (Luckily, there’s a shop that sold suits in the lobby. Worth it.) Rooms in the other tower overlook the river, complete with a private beach and dock for visitors’ boats. (Swanky.)
The resort offered quite a few restaurants–Vic & Anthony’s, Grotto, Landry’s Seafood House, and more–including one at the country club that features an 18-hole course designed by Todd Eckenrode. The restaurant at the club offered steaks, seafood, etc. with a slight Cajun influence.
Lake Charles’s Downtown area has quite a bit to offer–horse-drawn carriage tours complete with ghost stories, baby alligators, and some serious dining. The abridged “ghost tour” we went on was led by a jovial man who told a good tale–mostly about a woman who still haunts their courthouse.
We dined at Restaurant Calla, run by Chef David Sorrells (formerly of The French Laundry), and the food and wine lists were an absolute delight. The restaurant sources its ingredients from local farms and ranches making the food fresh and delicious. The Blue Crab Beignets, Bone Marrow, Broken Arrow Venison, and Brussels Sprouts are not to be missed. (I wish I’d had the chance to try some of their tiki cocktail options … a return trip is obviously necessary.)
A short ride outside of Lake Charles, you can visit the Bayou Rum distillery in Jeff Davis Parish. Our tasting was led by the Master Distiller, Jeff Murphy, and Master Blender, Reiniel Vicente, and we tasted all of their expressions–select, silver, spiced, and their citrus liqueur, Satsuma. All are unique, and the select has found its way onto my bar cart permanently.
After tasting the rums, we were treated to a tour of the distillery, rack room, and the bottling line. Noteably, the distillery is the largest privately-owned rum distillery in the US using distilling process that are a blend of traditional and new methods using cutting edge distilling technology. And the rum is made with sugar cane grown right in Louisiana.
Oh, and we got to hold a baby alligator named Gumbeaux before our tasting and tour. How badass is that?
At lunch we were treated to some traditional Louisiana fare along with all the Bayou Rum we wanted, then were herded onto a bus and handed a Gator Bite–a hurricaneish cocktail using three of their four expressions. It was lethal, but delicious. Find other delish cocktail recipes on their website.
1oz Bayou Silver Rum
1oz Bayou Satsuma
1oz Bayou Spiced Rum
1oz orange juice
2oz pineapple juice
1oz cranberry juice
Juice of 2 lime wedges
To get a real feel for the area, we were treated to a nature tour by Grosse Savanne Waterfowl & Wildlife Lodge. We went on an abridged tour, but were able to see an alligator (or three) and plenty of other wildlife. The tour guides were knowledgeable about the area and … dare I say … ours was pretty damn cute. (I’m sure that note’s not for everyone.) The lodge apparently offers general “swamp” tours, hunting tours, birdwatching tours, and more along with lodging at their newly rebuilt lodge.
I think the coolest little gem in Lake Charles is the Mardi Gras Museum. Housed in an old elementary school, it has the Mardi Gras kings’ and queens’ costumes from the last 40 years or so along with neat facts about the celebration itself. (We even got to try on a few of the lavishly ornate hats … we were fancy AF.) Bonus: there were King Cakes waiting for us after our tour and, unbeknownst to me until that point, boudin king cake exists. There is a God … and I think he’s Cajun.
After two fantastic days in Lake Charles, we were swept away to New Orleans for more unique experiences. Stay tuned for my recap of the shenanigans we got into in The Big Easy. Big thanks to the Lake Charles CVB and Bayou Rum for all of the fun!
Ok, y’all … I love an expensive drink as much as the next person (which is not at all), but this one caught my attention. The head mixologist at Vitascope Hall in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans mixed up a cocktail that costs a pretty penny but will let Saints fans rep their team with more than just jerseys and face paint.
The cocktail is called Black & Gold … and by gold, they actually mean gold. It’s made with Absolut 100 vodka (just $34 for a 750ml), Champagne Charles Mignon “Cuvée Billionaires Row” Brut Rosé Grand Cru, and a splash of raspberry Chambord liqueur and chilled pineapple juice. Oh … and the icing on the cake … err … topping on the cocktail … there’s edible gold on top and a black and gold sugar rim. (How does one make gold edible? I’m just seeing a flashback to the day after a Goldschläger binge.)
The drink runs cocktail enthusiasts a cool hundy stick ($100). Because sometimes it takes money to show you’re a fan. (What?)
$100 Black & Gold Cocktail (Available at Vitascope Hall in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans)
2 oz. Absolut 100 Super Premium Vodka
½ oz. Chambord
3 oz. Champagne Charles Mignon “Cuvée Billionaires Row” Brut
Rosé Grand Cru
2 ½ oz. Pineapple Juice
Served with a black and gold sugar rim and topped with shaved edible gold.
About the Hyatt Regency New Orleans: Situated in the heart of downtown New Orleans, adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Superdome and just blocks from the historic French Quarter, Hyatt Regency New Orleans is a preferred destination for leisure and business travelers alike, boasting 1,193 strikingly sophisticated guest rooms, including 95 suites and four presidential suites. www.neworleans.hyatt.com.
While on a weekend getaway to New Orleans, I wanted to see another (dare I say “calmer”) side of Bourbon Street. I had heard lots of good things about the Carousel Bar that is housed in the Hotel Monteleone. It’s a bar and show all in one … just as the name says, the bar is a revolving Carousel.
There are 25 seats at the bar along with a beautiful, spacious lounge. I would have to say that this bar can be quite confusing (especially after a few drinks). If you leave to use the restroom, your seat will not be where it was when you left it. The bar makes a full revolution every 15 minutes. The first question I had was: how do the bartenders enter and exit the inside of the bar? I could not find any openings. Within a few minutes, mystery was solved- these bartenders have to be quite limber because they literally crawl over the bar.
The Carousel bar has lots of history and is popular with locals as well as tourist. Before you plan your trip, check their website for their live music lineup.
I played it safe and my first drink was a Cuba Libre and it was very smooth. A simple drink of plantation dark rum, coke, and a lime-high quality ingredients and packed a punch. This simple drink was so good … that it called for seconds. My boyfriend ordered the Perfect Storm which was New Orleans cajun spiced rum, ginger beer, and lime. He said it was a nice change up from the usual Moscow Mule.
The speciality drinks on the menu run about $9, as well as they offer a full bar and a few local beers on tap.
I would recommend this bar to anyone visiting New Orleans. Not only is it just plain awesome because its a moving carousel (duh), but the drinks are outstanding. Great atmosphere, music, and drinks- what else could you ask for?