In 1890, Pasadena threw a New Year's parade for the purpose of rubbing their fresh flowers in the frozen faces of New Yorkers. Then, 12 years later, the annual California festival added a football game to the celebration, known as the Rose Bowl. Miami and Louisiana followed suit, introducing the world to the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. Cotton, Peach, and Fiesta Bowls appeared on the scene, adding a variety of flavors to the competition between football teams and the cities they hail from.
Just one month after Rosa Parks initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Louisiana's Sugar Bowl became a barometer of American racism in 1956. The controversy occurred when Georgia Tech objected to Bobby Grier, fullback for the Pitt Panthers, on the grounds that he was African American. The Historic New Orleans Collection's archive of the 1956 Sugar Bowl features a quote from Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin, saying that "the South stands at Armageddon" on the matter of integration at the game. Many Louisiana citizens agreed with Atlanta in demanding segregated sports, but the Sugar Bowl went on with Grier. That game is now regarded as an influential moment towards breaking the color barrier in college football.
This year, the Sugar Bowl turns 85. The milestone year comes at another historic moment: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While bars are operating under city- and state-mandated restrictions and precautions, New Orleans is not out of the woods. For those continuing to do the good work in erring on the side of caution, it's possible to have a small taste of normalcy and support a local business by grabbing your usual order to go from one of these spots and catching Ohio State vs. Clemson at home. If you prefer in-person activities, all the places listed here will be open for the game, serving snacks and beverages, both dine-in and to go.
Bar 1908 at Pythian Market
As part of Pythian Market, Bar 1908 was one of the early adopters of outdoor dining. Claiming a small chunk of Loyola Avenue for their customers to imbibe outside was a big step toward providing New Orleanian diners an alternative. Pick up one of their ingenious cocktails. Weather permitting, you might even be in the mood for a frozen Watermelon Paloma to—you know—rub in the face of all those freezing New Yorkers, as the Rose Bowl creators intended. 234 Loyola Ave, (504) 481-9599, pythianmarket.com
In Old Metairie, Martine's Lounge has all the trappings that go into making a dream neighborhood bar: darts, board games, video poker, jukebox, free pizza and snacks, and your favorite liquid refreshments. Martine's Mulled Cider and their selection of hot drinks will keep you warm—even if you're sticking with outside for now. 2347 Metairie Rd., Metairie, (504) 831-8637, facebook.com/martineslounge
Stumpy's Hatchet House
Stumpy's story started with friends who found a way to turn chopping wood into a game. The game, in turn, became a business with 27-and-counting hatchet-throwing locations. This wild success story proves Stuart and Kelly Josberger and their friends Mark and Trish Oliphant found an untapped market for … axe-throwing! Stumpy's is currently BYOB, but they will still be serving up classic snacks—think hotdogs, nachos, and popcorn. 1200 Poydras St., (504) 577-2937, stumpyshh.com/neworleansla
Lots a Luck Bar
Homey bars like Lots a Luck are community pillars. Lots a Luck is home to trivia night, table soccer, pool, and the patio where your friend confessed that *thing* you still can't get over. This is the place that set the scene for too many nights to count. Even if you're ordering to go, it's possible to support this neighborhood gem. This is NOLA after all—getting a drink to go is our thing! New York wishes they were us, and this time, it's not just because of the better weather. Take that, Rose Bowl! 203 Homedale St., (504) 258-6712, facebook.com/LotsaLuckNOLA
New Orleans Creole Cookery
Blessed with a beautiful outdoor courtyard and brilliant chefs and mixologists, New Orleans Creole Cookery is a strong contender. But good thing this isn't a competition. With five categories of Hurricanes to choose from, your cocktail needs will definitely be met. Gator bites and their New Orleans bread pudding pair especially nicely with the Sugar Bowl. 510 Toulouse St., (504) 524-9632, neworleanscreolecookery.com