A Historian’s Cocktail Tour: The History of New Orleans Bars
The French Quarter in New Orleans is home to a number of bars and various venues to quench your thirst. Livery Tours features a New Orleans Cocktail Tour that includes four of New Orleans’ most popular bars:
- The Carousel Bar
- Pat O’Briens
- Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Our Historians guide you through the story of how these bars began and why they are so well known in the Big Easy.
We’ve compiled a New Orleans Cocktail Tour Guide that will help introduce you to the stories you will hear on our New Orleans Brews and Blends Tour.
The famous Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone is a long-time favorite New Orleans hotspot and the city’s only revolving bar. Since its installation in 1949, it has enticed guests to take a spin on the bright, circus-clad Merry-Go-Round that comfortably seats 25. Patrons circumnavigate at one revolution every 15 minutes, turning on 2,000 large steel rollers that are pulled and powered by a chain and a one-quarter horsepower motor.
Some say the Carousel circulates the most creative ideas, inspirations, business deals and cocktails.
Artists, professionals, everyday workers and discriminating travelers from around the world are still rubbing elbows congenially in New Orleans’ original stand-up bar in Tujague’s—one of America’s great drinking establishments. At the turn of the century, Tujague’s was almost half a century old and already an institution of New Orleans. Well into its second century, Tujague’s bar, virtually unchanged, continues to delight native Orleanians and visitors alike.
The old cypress bar bar at Tujague’s is filled with the flavors of the French Quarter, both drink and patron alike. Local characters and celebrities can be seen lined up, drinking such classics as Sazeracs and Absinthe frappes. Politicians and policemen, lawyers and laborers come together at Tujague’s, giving the bar a spirited and freewheeling style all its own.
Pat O’Brien’s has been and always will be an important part of New Orleans culture. At the end of prohibition in 1933, Pat O’Brien converted his speakeasy to a legitimate drinking establishment in the 600 block of St. Peter Street called, of course, Pat O’Brien’s. Business was good and the bar was always filled with neighborhood folks. There was a little upright piano in the corner for entertainment and there was always lively conversation.
A few years later, Pat realized that he had outgrown his little space. He and his friend Charlie Cantrell decided to become partners and buy the building at 718 St. Peter Street, the building that is now home to the world famous bar.
Built between 1722 and 1732, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is reputed to be the oldest structure used as a bar in the United States. The structure and fence are in the old French Provincial Louis XV or Briquette-Entre-Poteauxe style used in French Louisiana. The building escaped two great fires at the turn of the 19th Century, due to slate roofing. Such slates are presently used by artists as canvases.
Like most New Orleans legends, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a gumbo of truth and French, Spanish, African, Cajun and American embellishments.
A New Orleans Cocktail Tour
These bars are the highlights of our Brews and Blends Tour for several reasons, but one stands out the most: each bar is unique. While there are so many brands and similarities between the bars in New Orleans, these are true icons of what New Orleans is about—free spirited fun that creates a lasting impression on the people involved, giving us stories to tell those who wish to hear.