5 Things to Drink in New Orleans That Don't Come in a Souvenir Cup

You’ve seen them. Either on tv, in a movie, or in real life. Some sort of undetermined liquor, sugar, and ice concoction in a plastic container shaped like it’s namesake. Maybe, if you’re lucky, it evens comes with a necklace so you won’t ever have to worry about losing it. It might look something like this:

2 yellowish drinks in alligator shaped plastic glasses

The scene of the crime, Horny Gator drinks at the Funky Pirate, Bourbon Street

That’s right. I actually spent money on something called a “Horny Gator” on a recent trip to New Orleans. Well, not me exactly. My husband thought it’d be fun to try them- I mean they even came with little plastic alligators sitting on top. And it was good for a laugh and fun for about 5 minutes, until we realized that there was no way we could drink these awful drinks and had to throw them out. That was the end of souvenir cup drinking for us, but New Orleans is a city with no shortage of drink options.

Here are some of my favorite things to drink in New Orleans (no gimmicky glass needed):

A dark reddish brown drink in a short glass with a lemon peel garnish

Monte Carlo from Meauxbar (942 Rampart Street, New Orleans)

1. The Sazerac. Sometimes simple tastes best. This is just rye whiskey, bitters, sugar, and a bit of pastis or absinthe with a lemon peel garnish. A great sipping cocktail, even for those who may not be big whiskey drinkers, like myself. There are many variations on the theme to be found around town, like the Vieux Carre or Monte Carlo.

2. Sherry. Not just for Grandma’s (especially British ones on t.v.) anymore, this fortified wine in New Orleans is a nod to the Spanish influence on the city and a great companion to all the great seafood. Angeline in the French Quarter offers a wide selection, an option for a tasting flight, and great service to help pair selections with your dinner.

A sign saying "Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House Since 1807" hanging above the street

Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House, 240 Bourbon Street, New Orleans

3. Absinthe. If you love black licorice flavor and want something really strong for the evening, then absinthe might be the way to go. But beware, if you’ve never had it before, this is not for everyone. A nice respite from the Bourbon Street nonsense is Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House, where they pour tourists glasses of the green stuff in the traditional style of melting a sugar cube with water over the drink with the flare of lighting the cube on fire for added effect.

20160103_124728 (2)4. Abita. Fun fact- besides very clear French and Spanish influences in New Orleans, there were also a lot of Germans immigrants in the city’s early history. And with Germans comes beer making skills. You can get Abita around the country (particularly Purple Haze), but near its home base (it’s brewed just over the lake from New Orleans), there are a lot more options, like Amber, Restoration, and Turbodog. A quality option in a sea of Bud Lite pitcher specials.

5. Chicory Coffee. Nights out in New Orleans may lead to slow mornings. Luckily, it’s a city that respects its coffee, especially when paired with a pastry like a croissant or better yet, a beignet that you waited in line for an hour for only to have it be just okay. But I’ll save my indifference to beignets for another time. For another fun fact, chicory root has been added to coffee in this part of the U.S. since the Civil War era when times were lean and it made the coffee supplies last longer. And because it’s a city built on traditions and things to sell to tourists, it remains in the coffee today. Check this out for an interesting history on chicory coffee.

Just remember, friends don’t let friends drink out of souvenir cups.

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