On New Year’s Eve, champagne bottles will be popping all across the city when the clock strikes midnight and a brand new year is ushered in. The brilliant pop of a bottle is like the starting gun of an exciting new year full of promise and possibility. However, you don’t have to relegate your bubbly consumption to only one night of the year; you can keep the celebration going year-round at the right places that serve up tingly, effervescent sparkling wine all year.
Effervescence (1036 N. Rampart St.) is the premiere spot to “drink the stars” in the city. In less than three years, the sparkling wine bar has impressed locals and visitors alike who marvel at their extensive sparkling menu; their modern, yet New Orleans-identified converted house; and the tasty treats that are so perfectly complemented by any drink option you choose. This marvelous concept was opened by Crystal Hinds and her husband after they became empty-nesters. Crystal was well-versed in sparkling wine since she was just a girl. She explained, “My very first memories of the sparkling festive drink we call champagne was when I was a small girl. My mom would let me dip my fingers in her coupe glass to taste the wine at family holidays after the toast. I knew it was something special, and I was thrilled to have a taste of the tiny little sweet bubbles.”
Located on North Rampart Street on the edge of the French Quarter—Crystal’s new home after moving from Kenner—Effervescence (pictured right) has been booming. Customers are especially attracted to the excellent price points on the beverages and shareable plates; the owners prefer having menu items for a wide range of budgets, rather than just catering to the elite of New Orleans. Crystal said, “We needed a spot like this in this residential area of the Quarter. Our guests love the accessibility in and out on weekends, as North Rampart is easy to get to from all parts of the city. I have many guests coming in to eat before going to the Saenger Theatre or a music event or even some of the sporting events around town. People are finally realizing we have amazing wine, bubbles, and mixed drinks to go. When walking in Armstrong Park or the French Quarter, they are popping in to grab nice to-go drinks!”
For Crystal and her staff, it’s not just about bringing the best bubbles from around the entire world straight to you; they want everyone to enjoy every moment that they’re alive. “The whole idea behind Effervescence is popping the cork on bubbles to celebrate the day, this day, this moment. Just pick something from our tasting flight that you like and celebrate the day, the people you are with, and the wine someone meticulously made for you,” she exclaimed.
Bayou Wine Garden (315 N. Rendon St.) opened on the property of the super-casual patio bar Bayou Beer Garden in 2016, but it has a different feel. The romantic patio is a great place to enjoy a large menu of wine derived from all over the world. The sparkling list includes 19 varieties that are almost all imported from Europe. For the aficionados, they stock bottles of true champagne as well. Oak (8118 Oak St.) wine bar is akin to the aforementioned bar in that it shares a patio with its brother bar Ale on Oak.
Sylvain (625 Chartres St.) in the French Quarter has one of the most delicious-sounding appetizers in the entire city: a pairing of sparkling wine and salty French fries. Robert LeBlanc, owner of the LeBlanc + Smith restaurant group, said that the pairing of an expensive-tasting drink and common street food was a no-brainer. He said about the dish, “The salt from the fries and the sweetness from the champagne complement one another perfectly. You can either order the fries with a glass of bubbles or with the whole bottle. It's the best combination of laid-back and decadent.”
Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits (600 Poland Ave.) is like a little piece of Europe right here in the American South; you enter the Old World-looking building, select a bottle of wine to share that evening, then retire to the patio (pictured above) or upstairs venue to nosh on small plates and sample the wine you purchased from their store. Your ears are in for a treat on Monday evenings when cellist and chanteuse Helen Gillet performs, and there’s music every other night of the week.
For the past few years, Brennan’s Restaurant (417 Royal St.) has been hosting a successful and fruitful Happy Hour for those in search for something light, refreshing, and fun. The types of champagnes and sparkling wines change all the time, so you may want to attend the event regularly. The Bubbles at Brennan’s Happy Hour (pictured below) is Monday through Thursday from 2 to 7 p.m. and on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. I would suggest going on Friday just before 5 p.m., so you can catch the weekly champagne-bottle sabering in the courtyard. That exciting ritual is sure to put you in the mood for celebration!
Also deriving their name from a type of sparkling wine, the Lakeview restaurant Cava (789 Harrison Ave.) is a lovely spot to eat New Orleans-inspired food al fresco, surrounded by a small garden of herbs, while taking in a crisp bubbly. The restaurant specializes in its namesake: cava is a Spanish sparkling wine mostly made in the Catalan region. The wine cellar here is more like a library behind glass that you can peruse before making the best selection.
Sometimes the best part of sipping champagne is being surrounded by decadent décor, deep red lighting, and smooth, sexy jazz. You’ll find that the Burgundy Bar (931 Canal St.) at the Saint Hotel is a devilish and luxurious treat that’s almost as sweet and intoxicating as the champagne they serve. A few of their “7 Deadly Sins” signature cocktails feature bubbles, but you’re just going to have to brave walking through the heavenly, floating white curtains and entering the red, glittering pit of indulgence to see which ones they are.
If you just got a promotion at work, your friend just got engaged, or because it’s a Wednesday, there’s always a reason to celebrate life with a taste of champagne!