When most of us were younger, “roughing it” had a defined but broad meaning. Still, the general idea was the same. We would forsake some level of creature comfort, like a bed and a roof over our head, then with a couple of our “hoodlum” friends, end up in a tent or a rustic cabin, with the emphasis on rust. Or maybe we would sleep in the backseat of the car or across the hood. Or brave all manner of crawling creatures and just recline on the forest floor.

Usually such flights of over-rated fantasy included lots of not-cold-enough beer, bad luncheon meat on stale bread, and we ended up with better stories than the experience deserved. It was good to go, loving mostly the anticipation of heading out, and it was a lot better to come home.

Such is the festival experience, and since we are in the middle of festival season, the topic seems timely and appropriate. Plans are made. Acts not to be missed are noted. Food that has to be consumed is anticipated. Friends are gathered and off we go for a day of fun but also sun, dust, hard earth for walking and sitting, too much sweaty skin-to-skin contact with strangers, lines for restrooms not fit for human use, difficult sound conditions, not to mention staring long distances to the stage to see that superstar now more resembling a fleshy ant, and transportation challenges requiring resolution but are never easy or convenient enough.

 

I need to insert here that I am not a fuddy-duddy and I really do enjoy festivals, in reasonable doses. I am not judgmental of my fellow festival-goers and I consider their behavior to be an important part of the cultural experience. Okay, so my tongue was a little bit into my cheek. Just a little though.

 

Back to topic, like the “roughing it” trips of another age, the last best part of being at a festival is a civilized post-festival decompression period. Air conditioning, comfy chairs, pleasant surroundings, quality adult beverages served in clean glasses, and speaking in normal tones with everyone easily hearing what is said. After a big day at a festival, these conditions are welcomed and appreciated. Did I mention a clean, fully-stocked restroom? No? Meant to.

So, here are some suggestions of places around the Old Square and in the CBD that will make you feel like you have spent a worthwhile day and finished it in grand style, with the festival performances still resonating in your brain and the products of the food booths sitting heavy in the region a little lower.

 

Cane & Table

1113 Decatur St

  • You have been surrounded by “New Orleans” all day. Don’t stop just because the sun went down. This bar, making some of the finest cocktails in the town, is pure NOLA. If the evening is inviting, head for the courtyard.

 

Latitude 29

321 N. Peters St.

  • Jeff “Beachbum” Berry is the earth’s default go-to guy for all matters Tiki. Not sure what that means? Order a Mai-Tai and be enlightened. You will come to the conclusion that the drink you really never have liked, is one you adore at this place.

 

Tiki Tolteca

301 N. Peters St.

  • Okay, you are on to my little game. The previous three bars all specialize in Tiki drinks. This one is on the second floor of one of the better Mexican restaurants in town, Felipe’s. Do you know Planter’s Punch? Oh, you must have one of those.

 

Carousel Bar

214 Royal St.

  • It’s not you, the bar really does spin around. The Vieux Carré cocktail was invented here in 1938. But for me, the Pisco Sour or Pisco Punch are the way to go. Ask the bartender about them and listen. You will learn something.  Live music and a lively crowd. In a hotel but not a hotel bar in any sense.

 

Patrick’s Bar Vin

730 Bienville St.

  • Just a few doors off of Bourbon, but a world away. Sit at the bar, or in the courtyard, or in the living room, or on the patio. Doesn’t matter really. Depends on your mood. Terrific wine list, by the glass.

 

Black Duck Bar

605 Canal St.

  • On the second floor of the Palace Café, if you are a rum lover, go no further. Home of the New Orleans Rum Society. More than 125 brands and styles. Good bar snacks, including charcuterie boards crafted on the premises.

 

Tableau

616 St. Peter St. 

  • Right on a prominent corner of Jackson Square, upstairs on the balcony, will convince you that New Orleans is indeed a very special place. Solid bar program including wines on tap (don’t sneer, they are in good order and reasonably priced.)

 

Muriel’s

801 Chartres St. 

  • On the opposite side of Jackson Square from Tableau is the enchanting, and enchanted, Muriel’s. The bar is tucked in the back of the building, but there are two better choices. The Séance Room is upstairs and said to be haunted. The balcony gives you another view of the heart of New Orleans, Jackson Square. 

 

Brennan’s

417 Royal St.

  • The legend is back with us, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ralph Brennan. The entire place looks better than it ever has and the courtyard is now quite inviting. Be certain to give full consideration to the Champagne specials every night. The prices during certain hours are equal to retail. That’s quite a statement for a grand New Orleans restaurant to make.

 

Café Adelaide Swizzle Stick Bar

300 Poydras St.

  • Raising cocktail creation and manufacture to a high art. If you don’t live in New Orleans, leaving such craftsmanship becomes that much sadder. This is the place that will raise your awareness and appreciation of what a perfect cocktail should be.

 

The Bar at The Windsor Court

300 Gravier St.

  • Luxury in proper style. Not only are the cocktails here most sincerely delicious but Kent Westmoreland, the affable and talented mixologist, will regale you with the stories of your drink and its ingredients. He himself is an author. The bonus is that he knows his way around a shaker and a strainer.

 

Just because festival day is done, does not mean New Orleans is saying the party’s over. That part of the celebration really never ends. But you festival animals can take a few moments to catch your breath.  Might as well do it in style and comfort. Still a long night ahead.

Pace yourself.

 

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Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed at www.wgso.com.