Every season is drinking season in New Orleans, but summertime gets an extra special spotlight for its refreshing cocktails. With festivals and outdoor concerts in full swing, there are plenty of reasons to be hitting up NOLA's finest bars, and many of them are not only featuring delicious and original summer drinks, but are also offering their versions of the classic cocktails that you know and love. With the city's everlasting heat and humidity, it's the ideal weather for an original Daiquiri or a Hurricane, just two of many famous cocktails created in the Big Easy. With the city's reputation and history, it's no wonder that New Orleans is the birthplace of such famous and well-received drinks.
If you're looking for a Pimm's Cup:
This spot on Freret is just as inconspicuous as it is impressive. With no sign to help you navigate, this cocktail bar is worth searching for. As a former firehouse, it's a space with plenty of character and details to admire as you sip one of the signature summer drinks (try Paper Hearts or Passion's Promise for a refreshing pick me up.) There's also an incredible outdoor patio where you can sip and socialize on the cooler nights this summer. Order the Safe Harbor, a light and fizzy champagne cocktail with hints of grapefruit, tarragon and mint, or stick with a classic and sip on a super refreshing Pimm's Cup, thanks to some fresh cucumber slices. Cure bartender Winston says, "It's been reinvented a thousand times, but it's a classic for a reason."
Napoleon House has been serving up refreshing and affordable cocktails and New Orleans-style cuisine since they opened in 1914. Along with their famous muffulettas, they are also well-known for their renowned Pimm's Cups. Made with Pimm's (a gin-based liqueur), lemonade, 7-Up, and fresh cucumber, the Pimm's Cup has been a Napoleon House standard since the 1940s. In fact, the restaurant did a lot to help popularize the drink, which is now considered among the classic New Orleans cocktails.
If you're looking for some of the city's best summer cocktails:
Head over to CellarDoor. Another hidden bar, CellarDoor is held in the CBD in a building with a mysterious history as a former brothel. Exposed brick and a peaceful courtyard create the perfect setting for trying out some craft cocktails as the weather gets warm. The bartenders of CellarDoor have expertly crafted an impressive menu of seasonal beverages that are as light as they are classic. Try the Vodka Cobbler, a popular drink that's overflowing with summer notes like lemon and strawberry, or try another crafted champagne cocktail, this one featuring a sugar cube. Bonus: the restaurant/bar now offers brunch.
The Mayhaw at the Market sits inside of the elegant and airy St. Roch Market, offering refreshments and cocktails while you explore all of the local vendors. While the Mayhaw is known for both its classic versions of famous drinks as well as the expertly crafted original ones, the latest specials include the Bee's Knees, a summery drink described as "herbal and refreshing." It features lemon, honey and sage mixed with Gin. Another Mayhaw cocktail to try is the Me Gustas Tu, a (fresh) watermelon Margarita with pink salt and black pepper to top it off. It should also be noted that the St. Roch Market is currently offering spiked snowballs each weekend to help customers cool off.
Far from the crowds and nuisances of Bourbon Street, Backspace Bar and Kitchen is a perfect place to relax and grab a cocktail downtown. Try the Gin Ricky, a gin and lime drink stirred and garnished to perfection. Or, if you have guts, try Death In The Afternoon, an Absinthe and Champagne drink that was actually created by Ernest Hemingway. Many of their drink names reference famous authors in literature.
If you're craving a daiquiri:
This spot is the ultimate spot for Chicken wings and/or daiquiris. Chef Nathanial Zimet just opened the restaurant this past May and is already receiving rave reviews and getting some loyal customers. During Bourrée's opening weekend, Zimet offered three different classic versions of the daiquiri for customers to choose from. Flavors included hurricane, fresh strawberry, and a twist on the classic gin and tonic. Keep an eye out for a sangria-style daiquiri, as well.
Spend some time at Cane and Table, (another spot with no sign) a bar and restaurant with a Cuban vibe and impressive cocktail list. Cane and Table offers a couple of their own versions of the classic daiquiri. Order the Hitler's Jitters, with hints of chocolate in this still refreshing beverage, it's definitely a twist worth trying. Not in the mood for chocolate? Try Daisy de Santiago, described as, "a tall and refreshing play on a daiquiri." With Yellow Chartreuse combined with the lime flavor, it's a version of the daiquiri that might be your new favorite.