Are you looking for the perfect 'why-don't-adults-have-Spring-Break?' long-weekend getaway? New Orleans is the destination! We caught up with Chris Patino, Director of Brand Education for Pernod Ricard USA and all-around bar aficionado, whose extensive career in the booze industry all started in Nola. Chris gave us the local lowdown for a successful weekend in the Big Easy.
1. Favorite hole-in-the-wall bar:
My favorite hole in the wall has to be Snake & Jake's Christmas Club Lounge, where the Jameson flows like wine. Legend has it, that if you take your clothes off in the bar, then you drink for free. Though I have yet to see anyone actually do it...
2. Best late night spot for food and drinks:
For late night food, you can't go wrong with Yo Mama's. The peanut butter bacon hamburger is out of this world and it pairs perfectly with a little Altos reposado tequila. Just be sure to add fresh jalapeños!
Late night drinks are easy to come by in New Orleans, mainly because there are so many bars that are open 24 hours; it all depends on what you are looking for. Personally, after midnight I am a fan of the classic dive. Check out The Chart Room in the French Quarter, Bud Rips in the Bywater, or Cooter Brown's on the river bend.
3. Best spot for a po' boy + authentic jambalaya:
There are SO many great places for po' boys in New Orleans. Currently I am digging KILLER POBOYS, a sandwich shop that started out as a pop up located in the back of the Erin Rose. You can still find them there, but they just recently opened a stand alone restaurant in the French Quarter as well.
If it's jambalaya you're looking for, then head to Coop's Place on Decatur. You're welcome.
4. Favorite local coffee shop + beverage of choice:
Satsuma in the Bywater. Great coffee, with a very eclectic/kitschy atmosphere. I am personally a drip coffee kind of guy. No cream or sugar, just black. I actually love the bitter nuances of a well roasted cup of joe.
5. Favorite spot to cure a hangover + menu item of choice:
Grab breakfast to-go at Cafe Envie and walk over to the banks of the Mississippi river for the views.
Otherwise, go to Cochon Butcher's recently expanded space in the CBD and get the Boudin with pickles and a Muffuletta to help get your day back on track.
6. Best place for live jazz?
Snug Harbor is the crowd favorite for contemporary jazz, but if you are looking for something a bit more lively you should go to Fritzel's European Jazz Pub on Bourbon St. This "hidden-in-plain-sight" gem is one of my favorite places to stop in for live music.
7. Best brunch in town?
Commander's Palace is still my favorite spot for brunch. There is something about getting dressed up for a little midday southern decadence that soothes the soul. Not to mention the fact that legendary Chef's like Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse have led the kitchen at this Garden District gem.
8. Favorite off-the-radar spot:
If you want to get away from it all and still have a great New Orleans experience, head to Revel in Mid-City. This is the brainchild of famed New Orleans Barman, Chris McMillian. The cocktails are very New Orleans centric, and the bites are equally as impressive. If you're lucky, you'll catch Chris reciting Joshua Soule Smith's "Ode to the Ming Julep" while mixing one of these beauties....just don't tell him I sent you!
9. Best hotel + favorite hotel bar?
The brand new Ace Hotel is a welcome addition to the CBD in New Orleans, it has all of the amenities that you would expect from an Ace and the rooms are HUGE!
For my favorite hotel bar, I'm split between the Carousel Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone (where the Vieux Carre was invented) and Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29, the tropical tiki oasis located in the lobby of the Bienville House.
[Editor's note: You must try this Aquadesiac cocktail for 2, served in a clam shell with a floating mermaid!]
10. Mardi Gras: Love it or leave it?
Love it, but leave the French Quarter. The best thing about Mardi Gras is that it brings the New Orleans community together. Head uptown to watch the parades, and stop in for refreshments at The Avenue Pub while you are up there.
Did we miss any of your favorite spots in New Orleans? Let us know below!