It's that time of year again!!! CARNIVAL TIME! And also time for the 2012 edition of The Beer Buddha's Beer Geeks Guide To Mardi Gras!! That's right! Your favorite guide to where to drink great beer while doing the Mardi Gras mambo!
Last years guide was a great success and even ended up being published in The Gambit! In this years addition you will still see your favorites but also some places that weren't on the list last year either because they weren't around or because I completely forgot. Yes, beer will do that too you.
THE FRENCH QUARTER
Most likely if you're coming for Mardi Gras this is where you will spend most of your time. We locals know to pretty much stay away but we do like to venture down there during Mardi Gras to watch out of towners make complete idiots out of themselves. It's quite fun! The following places are my recommendations on where you should be able to find good beer:
1) Club Decatur- They have a decent tap list with beers like Stone, Sierra Nevada, NOLA and Abita. They also have a decent bottle list. I would recommend getting bottles. Not sure the last time those taps have been cleaned.
2) Rouses on Royal St.- This is a grocery store but they've got a great selection of beer. Stone, Bayou Teche, Abita, etc. REMEMBER: You CAN walk around the streets with beer but it needs to be either in a can or a plastic cup.
3) Rouses in the CBD- This is the new fancy schmancy Rouses they built this past summer. Located close to Lee Circle this is a great place to pick up a quick sixer or case of your favorite brew.
This is the area located according to the City Planning Commission: Iberville, Decatur and Canal Streets to the north, the Mississippi River to the east, the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Julia and Magazine Streets and the Pontchartrain Expressway to the south and South Claiborne Avenue, Cleveland and South and North Derbigny Streets to the west. Basically it's the area with all the big buildings not in the French Quarter. Not much going on in this area beer wise but here is my pick:
1) Gordon Biersch- There is no beer to go option but if you want to get away from the crush and chaos of the crowd this is a great place to get fresh beer and good food.
2) Cochon Butcher- GREAT food and nice beer selection. Not sure how I missed this place last year but this year I make amends. This place is a must go! Pork and beer? It doesn't get any better. I recommend the Cubano with the Bayou Teche LA 31 Biere Pale.
If you're looking for good music go to Frenchman Street. If you're looking for good music and good beer go here:
1) dba- Owned by the late Ray Deter this is similar to the one in New York. The one in New Orleans however seems to focus more on music than beer. Still has a good beer selection though.
For all tense and purposes we're going to just use the term Uptown. There is more to Uptown than just Uptown but we'll just make it easy. I'm sure people will want to argue with me but let it go. Let's make it easy for the tourists.
1) Avenue Pub- In my opinion there is no other place to go bar wise. You can catch almost ALL the parades from right here and also have the best beers in the city to choose from. Please note that the beers will be served in plastic cups because of the no glass outside rule and because it'll get way too busy in there for them to serve in proper glassware.
2) Steins Deli- If you're looking for a great selection to take back to your hotel room look no further than Steins. You can't drink on premise but you can stock up here. My favorite sandwich? The Rachel. Get it.
3)Slice Pizza- Damn good beer selection and even better pizza! AND located right on the parade route.
4) Squeal- This BBQ joint has a very nice selection of craft beer while also having some kick ass BBQ. Oh and the BBQ tacos kick major ass!
5) Whole Foods- It's Whole Foods. You've been to Whole Foods I'm sure. This one on Magazine St has a great beer selection. Perhaps one day they will have taps like their stores in New York.
6) Breaux Mart- This small locally owned grocery store also located on Magazine St has a nice diverse selection of craft and imports. They even have a section devoted solely to local beers.
7) Cooter Browns - a legend in New Orleans. Nice beer selection on tap and huge bottle selection. DO NOT go by their online beer list as it hasn't been updated in a long time. They have beers on the list that aren't even distributed here. I would highly recommend the cheese fries, Radiator's Special and the NOLA Philly.
8) The Bulldog - Large selection of beers on tap and decent bottle selection. Nice outdoor patio which can be irrelevant in cold weather. Lately however we have been blessed with unseasonably warm weather. Perhaps it can stick around for Mardi Gras! Check out the outside fountain made from taps and also make sure to try the Crawfish Banditos.
9) Le Bon Temps - This place is a true dive bar and can get rowdy at times. I've seen(yes seen- I used to live right down the street) someone who had been shot right out front of the bar. That being said it's a must go to in my opinion because it's a great neighborhood bar. You can get NOLA on tap here as well. The night to go is Thursday nights to check out the Soul Rebels Brass Band. Go early cause it gets packed.
10) Midway Pizza- I really dig this place. They have a great beer selection and I really enjoy the pizza here. It's not quite deep dish but similar and good. They also do a lunch buffet. Yes, a buffet. Of pizza. Not that I need that.
11) Ms. Maes- Oh yeah I did. Located right at the corner of Magazine and Napoleon there is no better place to get your cheap beer(and well drinks!)fix then Ms Maes. Get your Miller High Lifes and wait to check out the 610 Stompers!
12) The Irish House- Authentic Irish upscale pub grub with an amazing beer list? Yes please. And no it isn't just Irish beer. They have options like Mikkeller, Lindeman's, Stone, Delirium and local favorites like Abita, NOLA and Heiner Brau.
13) J'anitas at the Rendon Inn - Another place with a great beer and food selection! J'anitas, which was formerly housed in Avenue Pub is now located in the Rendon Inn. With new owners of the bar and the addition of J'anitas you need to go visit. I recommend Buddha's Temptations with a NOLA Hopitoulas. For obvious reasons.
14) Boucherie Upscale southern cuisine with a fantastic beer list? Check. A bread pudding made from Krispy Kreme donuts? Check. Need I say more?
If you're in Midcity it's only because a local dragged you to see Endymion. But if you find yourself out there here is where you go!
1) Cork & Bottle- This small store is mainly wine focused but has a nice beer selection. I used to be the former beer guy here so hopefully they kept it up!
2) The Bulldog Midcity - See The Bulldog Uptown. The difference is there is a lot more space at this location. Crawfish Banditos still apply.
3) Bayou Beer Garden Bayou Beer Garden is right near Cork & Bottle on Jefferson Hwy. Located in a unassuming double with neon all about this bar looks like your neighbor is just throwing a party. Great beer selection with nice food options. I recommend the Disco Fries with an Abita Andygator. Could be a really bad move but give it a try.
4) Crescent Pie and Sausage Company- Ah, pizza and beer. Almost seems to be a recurring theme here. But this place isn't just a pizza shop. It's a Bart Bell owned restaurant complete with Bad Bart's Black Jambalaya, pizza and also a wide array of amazing sandwich options. Did I mention that they have homemade sausages and a great craft beer selection too? Well then yeah there is that too.
If for some reason you find yourself in Metairie for Mardi Gras here are my picks of where to drink your sorrows away.
1) Lagers- This place is like The Bulldogs younger ginger kid sister. Great beer selection and oh yeah they have crawfish banditos too!
2) Phil's Grill- Possibly one of the best burger joints in the area because you can create your own burger. I'm still working on them working with me to create the Beer Buddha Burger. 100% black angus on an onion roll with creole aioli, beer sauteed onions, bacon and havarti cheese served with your choice of LOCAL brew!! Vegetables? What's that? Maybe we can get this in the works for American Craft Beer Week? Come on Phil!! What do you say?
3) Martin Wine Cellar Metairie- This Martins location is right on the parade route and has the best beer selection out of all the locations. Their cold selection is kind of slim but they do have a nice selection. And while you're at it grab some grub! I recommend the boneless pork loin with some havarti. And yes you can drink some beer at the deli!
Okay so if you find yourself on the North Shore you are kind of far away from Mardi Gras. BUT you aren't far from a great beer bar!
1) The Barley Oak- HUGE beer list with a great food menu. THIS is the place to drink good beer when on the North Shore!
There are parades over on the West Bank but you probably don't want to go to them. You should however take a free ferry ride across the Mississippi and visit Algiers Point. Why? Because this place:
The Crown and Anchor- Remember hearing about little bars nestled in old neighborhoods that you could just walk to? Yeah this is that place. Great beer selection with a wonderful mix of English and local beers. Ciders too! No food options but you can bring some grub to the bar. My recommendation is to order from Gulf Pizza.
BEER BUDDHA'S TIPS AND THINGS TO REMEMBER
1) Don't be a douche. Tip your bartender.
2) You are "allowed" to drink outside. Make sure it's either in a plastic cup or in a can.
3) BE CAREFUL! Like any major urban city New Orleans can be dangerous. We have our share of crime so always beer aware.
4) Downtown generally equals the "adult" Mardi Gras whereas Uptown is mostly the "family" Mardi Gras. Gray areas occur.
5) If you don't like crowds Mardi Gras isn't the place for you but Uptown would be your best bet.
6) Try to drink local! We could use your money!
7) Showing your boobs and or junk is still a crime. You could still get arrested for this. But we do like boobies. At least I do.
8) Unlike the parades you've been to our floats throw stuff off of them so like your old football coach from high school said, "Keep your head on a swivel!" Or if you played golf, "FOUR!!!!" Getting a smack in the face from some beads isn't fun so pay attention.
9) Yes it's true the beads aren't jewels or anything valuable but be careful. People will fight and claw for those damn beads. And DON'T pick them up off the ground cause you may have a little old granny stepping on your hand to get them.
10) Just because there is trash on the ground doesn't give you the right to throw more. Please respect our city and look for a trashcan. If it's full at least get the garbage in the general vicinity of the can.
ADDITIONAL TIPS FROM POLLY OF AVENUE PUB
1) It's a marathon not a sprint.
2) Most places charge for bathrooms but if they don't please try and buy something.
3) Know what you want before you approach the bar and order everything all at once. It'll make your life and your bartenders life much easier.
4) Get off your cell phone when ordering from your bartender.
5) TIP your bartender!
6) Don't play Jimmy Buffet on the jukebox over and over again.
7) Bringing food to the bartenders would be a nice gesture since most of them have probably not had something to eat for over 9 hours. Makes a great impression.
TOP 5 CANNED BEERS AVAILABLE IN NEW ORLEANS
1) NOLA Blonde- Yes you can drink NOLA on the parade route without dragging the party pack around now.
2) Abita- They will be releasing three of their beers in cans right before Mardi Gras. Sometime in late January perhaps. Turbodog in cans? Oh yes please.
3) Tin Roof Perfect Tin- This Baton Rouge beer is perfect for any parade.
4) Heiner Brau Kolsch- The perfect beer for the parade route in a can.
5) Miller High Life 16oz- cheap and good. Simple.
Well that's it folks. Hope you enjoyed the 2012 edition! As you can see we have some old standbys but also some new places to visit! If I forgot somewhere please let me know! Laissez les bons temps rouler!!
The Beer Buddha