Saturday, November 7, 2009

Coctails at Four

Based on glowing reviews on Trip Advisor, we signed up for a cocktail tour of the French Quarter. We met several nice couples in our group... some Bears fans from Chicago, some Hawkeye fans living in Texas, and some folks from Ohio. The woman from Ohio and I had both read about this tour online, and had heard how great the tour guide Joe was. When the groups were divided, we both made sure we were in Joe's group, and he definitely lived up to our expectations. Here is Joe on the river pier giving us some background before starting the tour.

There are all sorts of things to see around the Jackson Square area, and we passed these two guys performing in the pedestrian mall. If you give them money they will move. Otherwise they appear to be statues.

Our first stop was Tujague's. It is the second oldest restaurant in the city, and still has the original bar and mirror, which has never been resilvered since the mid 1700's. Joe told us many stories of the history of the bar and restaurant. Here is the bartender, Paul. Joe warned us about his grumpy demeanor, but he was really quite pleasant to us and graciously allowed me to take his picture. He is making us one of his specialties, Tujague's Lemonade. It was in this bar that the famous sweet cordial coktail, the Grasshopper, was invented.

This is the dining room at Tujague's. Here, the ladies came to dine before the men allowed them to join them in the bar. Meals are still served here. There are no menus, just a choice of 4 entrees, along with bread, shrimp remoulade, soup of the day, a "taste of brisket" (delicious), and bread pudding for dessert. We ended up going back there for dinner after the tour and enjoyed it for ourselves. The soup was amazing, and Jim thinks it was his favorite meal in New Orleans.

The sign outside Tujague's.

The next stop was Muriel's, one of New Orleans' most beautiful and elegant dining and drinking establishments. It is one of many French Quarter locations which are said to be haunted. The story goes that one of the former owners refused to leave after the restaurant had been sold, and ended up committing suicide in one of the upstairs rooms. Joe told us that even today, the waiters often set the table and serve dinner to the ghost, just to appease him. Of course the story goes that when the table is cleared, some of the food has been consumed. Believe it. Or not.
Here, she is making a Fleur de Lis, a martini type drink. The other drink they offered was a Pimm's Cup, served with a slice of cucumber.

I expected the carriages to be pulled by horses, but obviously I was wrong. I was told that they use mules because they tolerate the heat better.

This is the elementary school in the French Quarter, still in use today.

Behind St. Louis Cathedral is St. Anthony's Garden. Legend says that it was here in this very garden that pirates held duels with swords. At night, the shadow of the statue reflects on the building.

As Joe was telling us the story of Pirate's Alley Cafe, a rat ran right across the alley and back again. Sort of added to the authenticity of the pirate stories. :)

Pirate's Alley Cafe was one of the most exotic bars we visited.

Just as exotic, was the bartender and the drink she made, the "Green Fairy." It is made from absinthe, which had been banned from the U.S. for the past 97 years, and only legalized in 2007.

Oh, and while walking around the French Quarter, we ran into Drew Brees. :)

Our last stop of the evening was Antoine's. Opened in 1840 by Antoine Alcatore, it is America's oldest restaurant in continuous operation. It is here that "Oysters Rockefeller" was created.

We tried what is considered by many to be the original cocktail, the Sazerac. I was not a fan.

As I said before, after spending a little more time with Joe, and having him sign his book, which we had purchased, we ended our evening with a wonderful meal at Tujague's.

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