If you’ve ever met one, you probably already know that dogs are very social animals. The same goes for New Orleanians. Put the two together and what do you have? In the case of an event planned for early Thursday evening, Jan. 10, at one Warehouse District watering hole, you've got the makings for a good time for a good cause.
The Rusty Nail (1100 Constance St., 504-525-5515) has an ongoing series called Cocktails for a Cause, during which a selected nonprofit gets a share of the bar proceeds. This time around, the beneficiary is the Louisiana SPCA, which cares for neglected and abused animals across our community. Show up between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., order your libations and 20 percent of the tab will go to the SPCA to support its mission. Best of all? Dogs are invited to attend alongside their owners.
The Louisiana SPCA has been building a track record for the connection between the social tendencies of New Orleanians and their willingness to support animals in need. The group’s annual autumn fundraiser New Orleans on Tap draws thousands of people to City Park for an outdoor beer tasting and festival benefiting its cause. This week’s Rusty Nail event should be considerably smaller than that blow out, but with its happy hour time frame and this bar’s unique and recently upgraded beer garden atmosphere it holds its own special appeal.
The Rusty Nail is fairly tucked away, and if somehow you’ve missed coming here since the days when the address was a rock club called the Mermaid Lounge, you may be in for a surprise. There’s still live music, but outside, what had been a small grassy lot between the bar and the street is now a lush, brick-trimmed patio with its own bar, TVs, lots of strings of lights and plenty of tables. Food trucks often set up shop here to serve patrons, and for Thursday’s event you’ll find truffle fries, arancini (Italian-style rice fritters) and other finger food from the truck Foodie Call.
On Thursday that patio should be full of dogs and their owners socializing in their own species-specific ways. It’s not this setting alone that made the Rusty Nail a good partner choice for the SPCA benefit, however. The Rusty Nail is among a circle of New Orleans bars that are dog-friendly as a general rule. Others include the Bridge Lounge, where beautiful portraits of local dogs adorn the walls, and the Uptown and Lakeview locations of the Bulldog Tavern, which not-coincidentally is a major sponsor of the SPCA’s New Orleans on Tap event. There are many others with more-or-less unofficial dog policies, usually low-key neighborhood watering holes where regulars pop in for pints with their pooches.
Leashes, common sense and respect for other patrons are of course all required, but a well-behaved dog is a great amenity to any civilized drinking establishment. They help break the ice for conversation (among the humans), they’re attentive, endlessly companionable, patient and constitutionally incapable of repeating any promise, boast or lie you might spout as the evening ticks on. That sounds like an ideal drinking buddy, and on Thursday we’ll be hoisting a few not just in their honor, but for their benefit, too.
If you think you’re smarter than the average bear, stick around after 8 p.m., when the Rusty Nail will host a special animal-themed trivia night.