Sitting at the rail of the Bourbon "O" Bar are: buttoned-down tech execs, a virgin bride, fratty types in baseball caps and flip flops, and giddy, suntanned 20-somethings (one of whom is clutching a Hand Granade).
"As long as she orders a drink from me, I'm okay with that," says Cheryl Charming, new bar manager of the Bourbon "O", which is attached to a stately, historic hotel (with one of the city's prettiest pool decks) - and also fronts sweaty, throbbing Bourbon Street.
She's already swept in change, by upgrading the well spirits (now when you ask for vodka, you get Cathead; the rum is Old New Orleans), redecorating (gas lamp lights, leather lounge seating, tin-look ceiling), rethinking live entertainment (a sultry blues singer), and hiring new bar talent (Portland's Becca June, who comes with "craft knowledge and a good, fun personality," Cheryl says.)
And there's a new drinks list, meant to draw in convention-goers and streetwalking frat boys alike.
Cheryl is rolling it out in stages: today, classic New Orleans drinks and Champagne cocktails debut; on July 1, Cheryl will introduce bottled cocktails, a vodka and caviar tray, and a signature campy go-cup. The Gator Death Roll is a twist on a Trader Vic classic, made with local white rum, herbal and cherry liqueurs, fresh lime juice and coconut water. The drink will be on tap and carried in a rubber gator cup.
In a swankier mood? Cheryl offers Bourbon Street's take on bottle service, with Champagne cocktails that you'll make tableside. A setup comes with iced bubbly, flutes or coupe glasses, fresh fruit and pour-ready mixers (your choice of ginger-orange juice, peach and black currant liqueurs, blueberry vodka and blue curaçao, or the classic sugar cube and shakes of bitters).
In keeping with a speed bar, the setup takes about two minutes, and can keep guests sated for an hour or more.
And Cheryl's all about giving customers what they want, no matter which door they enter. "If they want Jäger shots, give 'em Jäger shots…and ring them up," she says.
Bourbon "O" Bar at the Bourbon Orleans, 717 Orleans Street, 523.2222.
That "virgin bride"? A newlywed who was drinking soda water with lime. Let's talk on Facebook, or on Twitter @AnneBerryWrites.