Our hard-partying friends were in town for a day, and what did they want to do? Faced with eight straight hours of marathon drinking, I'd have to keep up and stay lucid. My strategy:
Tivoli and Lee, 10:30 a.m. I could have ended it all here, had I dipped into Kimberly Patton-Bragg's stock of whiskey. Instead, we eased into the day with Tivoli and Lee's new make-your-own Bloody Mary bar, set up by assistant bartender Steve Yamada with pickled vegetables, seasonings (hot sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire), olive and lemon juices, bacon stirrers and cubed cheese (the pepper-jack is especially worthy).
Just start at your table with two ounces of a spirit - the house recommends their own chorizo-infused tequila or dry gin steeped in mizuna greens, as well as Cathead vodka. I chose the gin, as mizuna adds an earthy, peppery base to what would be a full glass of fresh tomato juice (you also have the option of Zing Zang mix). With maple-grazed chicken and waffle bites and just-right poached eggs, I was off to a good start.
Somewhere on Bourbon Street, 12:30 p.m. Our friends, against all warnings, buy two horrendous plastic cylinders filled with green slime. I use this interlude to drink water.
(Next time, I'll stop at the Bourbon Orleans' Bourbon "O" Bar, now being managed by Cheryl Charming.)
Somewhere off Jackson Square, 1 p.m. Out-of-towners fall for the nearest dive's vodka tonics, and hand me a Skinnygirl Margarita. I take two sips to be polite.
SoBou, 2 p.m. I'm given the last precious, potent drops of the bar's barrel-aged Vieux Carré; the next batch, using a young, white Armagnac, will be ready in a few weeks.
We want to linger, which gives me an opening for Abigail Gullo's elegant Ladyella, built in a pomegranate syrup-coated glass with Lillet Rose, rhubarb bitters and a Cava float. Dainty bubbles, a rose fragrance and a blended wine base makes this a lovely, slow and low-alcohol sipper.
Cochon, 4 p.m. Our friends soldier on, inspired by the promise of their first taste of boudin. I pluck a Honeysuckle Rose off Cochon's spring list, this one also based on wine (prosecco). In the glass, it's paired with fragrant honeysuckle vodka and housemade peach bitters that carry spicy cardamom notes; a splash of fresh grapefruit juice adds texture and acidity.
Borgne, 6 p.m. Oh yes, there's more. A dinner of chilled oysters and steamed fish en papillote calls for a beer-based cocktail. Executive Chef Brian Landry, who wrote the drinks list, cleverly joins Parish Brewing's Canebrake wheat ale with rye whiskey and cane syrup. Braking Cane is nutty and sweetly toasted, just like our party. And with that, a cab whisks us home.
Borgne, 601 Loyola Avenue, 613.3860
Bourbon "O" Bar at the Bourbon Orleans, 717 Orleans Street, 523.2222
Cochon, 930 Tchoupitoulas Street, 588.2123
SoBou, 310 Chartres Street, 552.4095
Tivoli and Lee at the Hotel Modern, 936 St. Charles Ave., 962.0909, offers brunch and the make-your-own Bloody Mary bar 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
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