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Ten days in New Orleans felt like all of about ten minutes and before you could say “Big Easy” five times fast I was packing my backpack to leave again. Now, some sisters might rest of their laurels and feel that six intense days of Mardi Gras partying was enough for one visit. But not this set of rage-a-holics — we were ready to go for it one last time!

Or, — cough — maybe what we were really ready to do was lay in bed and eat take out and watch six consecutive seasons of Parks and Recreation, but our New Orleans Original Cocktail Walking Tour kept getting rescheduled and this was our last chance to go for it. Maybe that.

Either way, our final day together found us brunching at the , where cocktails are a mere 25¢ during weekday lunches. Um, yes, you did indeed read that correctly — you can have a three martini lunch at the W for less than a buck on your bar bill. I support this. I also concurred with the menu’s note that there was a limit of three drinks per person, “’cause that’s enough!” Apparently 25¢ martini lunches are a thing in New Orleans, a phenomena I think it is my duty to explore when I return.

But lunch was just our warm up. After grabbing some beignets at the famous for additional sustenance, we set off for our cocktail tour meeting spot. It was an unusually chilly day, but our group went from shivering to giggling pretty quickly when our tour guide Brian showed up. He immediately starting bombing us with boozy factoids —  New Orleans is home base for the annual festival, the social event of the season for serious bartenders worldwide, and is also the only city with an official cocktail approved by the state legislature. Clearly, New Orleans is a city that celebrates sipping — we were in the right place for a cocktail tour. We threw on some tour-branded Mardi Gras beads and threw back a free hurricane cocktail, and set off towards the French Quarter.

First stop? The appropriately-named restaurant and bar. Brian gave us a quick and dirty history of the place and space before moving onto his recommendation of one of their classic cocktails. At that point we could elect to either buy one of his recommendations or order whatever our little hearts desired. Tempting as the Bam Bam — a whiskey-based concoction — sounded, I decided to bench myself for this round.

Next up was Antoine’s, which I was immediately charmed to hear is one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans. We breezed past the fairly innocuous front room and took a tour of the seemingly endless maze of private dining rooms in the back. This was the highlight of the afternoon, getting VIP access to the exclusive domains of the most elite Mardi Gras krewes and New Orleans influencers while hearing the secrets of how survived Prohibition and has stayed in one family for so many generations.

The cocktail of the hour was the Sazerac, anointed the official New Orleans cocktail by the state legislature. The mix of rye whiskey, bitters and absinthe seemed more than my post-Mardi Gras liver could handle, so I went with the more mild alternative offering of a Pimm’s Cup. I’d actually never tried the dry gin, lemonade and cucumber concoction — but it’s now a new favorite.

Our next stop brought us from New Orleans’ past to it’s super-hip present. is known for creativity in both the mixologist’s menus and their cocktail naming abilities. Tempted as I was by a certain drink known as an Elephants Sometimes Forget, I gave my body and my budget a break and sipped water here.

I had a lot of faith in our guide Brian’s judgement, and it all came full circle when we arrived at our final destination — Carousel Bar, which I’d visited earlier in my stay and had already fallen for. A rotating bar that serves the best amaretto sour in the South? You had me at free snack mix.

Though our timing was admittedly not ideal (we were still in serious Mardi Gras recover mode) I still can’t recommend this experience highly enough. I’ve taken a lot of tours in my travels and our guide Brian was up there in the top five for knowledge, engagement, and passion for his topic of tour. There’s simply no better way to drink in the cocktail culture of New Orleans.

Though we said goodbye to our tour buddies after that, Olivia and I still had one more stop for the day. My friend Nadia, who’s been featured in my Earning Abroad series, was in town for a design conference and we made plans to catch up at with my sister and her boyfriend. That’s the lovely thing about having a massive group of wanderlusting friends — you never know where you’ll run into one next. Over dinner we talked New Orleans, art and design, and of course, where we were all headed next.

I fell crazy in love with New Orleans on this trip. I always felt a calling to the city and was more excited than Olivia was when she received her placement there. My first trip didn’t disappoint. New Orleans, I’ll be back. Take care of my baby sister in the meantime.

Did I miss any of your favorite New Orleans activities? Let me know for next time! And coming up next… California!

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Note: I am a freelancer for Viator and participated in these tours in order to write a review for their site. I was compensated for my time and they did not request favorable reviews on either their site or my own.

  • becky hutner
    May 19 2014

    what a great idea for a tour! did you ever end up getting to tonique in the french quarter? i still dream of their moscow mules with made-right-in-front-of-you ginger syrup.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      Sadly we did not make it this trip (our schedule was SO packed) but when I mentioned it to me sis she told me she’d been dying to get there too, so it’s definitely a must for next time!

  • that looks like a great tour. FYI the photo isn’t clickable for the travel blog success- wasn’t sure if you meant for it to be, but no other link there!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      The link was in there in the text but you’re right, it should be the image too. Just updated — thanks for the tip!

  • TammyOnTheMove
    May 19 2014

    This sounds like a great tour Meihoukai! As a German I love my beer, but I am also a complete cocktail addict.
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    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      Not a beer drinker here, so sadly all the fab microbrew tours I see around the world are out for me! Which is why I love ones like this 🙂

  • Katie
    May 19 2014

    What a unique way to see New Orleans! I especially like the $0.25 martinis and the carousal bar. Some of those cocktails sound amazing!
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      Indeed they were! And yes, I’m going to try out some of the other 25 cent martini joints next time I’m in town — appearantly it’s a thing!

  • MCVK
    May 19 2014

    As always, Meihoukai, you are great at describing a place I know very well, even though it was your first visit. Here’s a recipe created by a Pat O’Brien’s master mixicologist which was published in the NY Times 1980 or so, called the “Skylab” in honor of NASA’s lab which reentered the atmosphere and was destroyed. The article said, “This drink is capable of felling you too.” Last time I was in Pat O’Brien’s (2012) I asked the bartender for the drink, and by golly, he knew the recipe.

    The Skylab

    1/2 oz Rum
    1/2 oz Vodka
    1/2 oz Apricot Brandy
    1/2 oz Blue Curaçao
    1 oz Pineapple Juice
    1 oz Orange Juice
    1 oz Collins Mix

    Garnish with a cherry. Looks beautiful in a crystal pitcher, tastes better.

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      Sounds delicious, and love the story behind it — thank you for sharing!

  • Danica
    May 19 2014

    I loved your post! I really wish I knew where to get drinks for 25 cents! I’m also really surprised you never had Pimms! It’s everywhere in Edinburgh in Spring/Summer! I’m looking forward to reading about your travels in my home state AND even my resort filled hometown!

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      I’m not a gin lover so I think I had always avoided it because of that, but the way the guide described it made it sounds really appealing for once — and it was!

  • Justine
    May 19 2014

    The Pimm’s Cup sounds divine! In the spirit of booziness, I have a recommendation. Did you make it to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street? It was built in the 1700s and is one of the oldest bars in the area. Touristy but still pretty historical and awesome! Also, did you make it to the Lower Ninth Ward? That was definitely one of the most memorable things I did while I was in New Orleans.
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      I didn’t do either of those things… but they are now on my list for a future visit, so thank you! I’ve gathered some great suggestions here.

  • You’ve convinced me 🙂 Just signed up through your link.
    Emily from Let’s Roam Wild recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      Yay! Good for you, Emily! See you in the forums 🙂

  • Alouise
    May 19 2014

    Love New Orleans. That cocktail tour sounds like a lot of fun – might have to check that out the next time I’m there.
    Alouise recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      Yes, go for it! PS: Wasn’t Sleep No More so cool?

  • Jade
    May 19 2014

    What an awesome tour! I love that Viator seem to have all bases covered, not just your regular city walking tours. It’s only 11am here but I want a Pimms cup!
    Jade recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      They have an amazing variety. I’m super excited for the chocolate making tour I just signed up for with them in Belgium 🙂

      • Jade
        May 20 2014

        Now that is my type of tour! Have fun and can’t wait to read about it 🙂

  • 25 cent martinis – wow! Even with my hangover today that sounds good. Viator hosted the travel meet up I attended in Sydney last night – great company and I am definitely looking forward to doing one of their tours soon
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      Awesome, I want to go to a Viator travel meet up! Sounds like a blast 🙂

  • Corinne
    May 20 2014

    New Orleans is easy to fall in love with! It is such a unique place; there’s just nothing like it. I love the food, the accent…I love it all!
    Corinne recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 20 2014

      I have to agree with you on that one… it’s a super special place!

  • Laura
    May 22 2014

    I was in New Orleans this past February and also fell for the city pretty hard. I don’t think I had a single bad meal there. This cocktail tour sounds really fun – love the Sazaracs and Pimm’s Cups down there!
    Laura recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 25 2014

      I know how you feel, Laura. Can’t wait to be back again soon.

  • Camels & Chocolate
    June 1 2014

    How on earth can you find a cocktail for a quarter anywhere, let alone at a W hotel???
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      June 2 2014

      You might have to see it to believe it 🙂

  • Franz Müller
    June 2 2014

    Very tasty treats in New Orleans. I’m looking forward to my next visit in September. Will most definitely check theses places out. Thanks for the post.

    • Meihoukai
      June 2 2014

      You are so welcome Franz! Let me know how you like them!

  • Kristen Noelle
    June 6 2014

    Did someone at quarter cocktails at my favorite hotel-chain ever!?


    Gosh I need to get back to Nawleans. It’s one of those cities I went to with my parents while underaged, so I didn’t get to experience the real fun! You and your sisters’ adventures are always so cute.
    Kristen Noelle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      June 8 2014

      Definitely time for a return trip! I’m sure it’s a different place as an adult.

  • Whitney
    June 17 2014

    Wow! I wish I could have been there for Mardi Gras. I was lucky enough to experience New Years in NOLA this past year and it was so crazy! Love the Bourban Street madness.

    Did you check out any nearby plantations? I absolutely loved all the old homes, the history, and the Oak Trees! Also, did you see any cemeteries? Honestly… never would have thought of them as tourist sites but actually so cool. And, next time you have to check out Frenchmen Street for the coolest bars, music, and local hang outs.
    Whitney recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      June 18 2014

      Hey Whitney! I didn’t get a chance to do any plantation tours on this visit but absolutely will when I return. I did spend a good amount of time on Frenchmen Street, and loved it! Just a quick note, I’d advise against posting URLs into a blog comment as in most cases it will send your comment to spam (it did for me!)

  • Kathy Brohan
    August 3 2018

    Wish Iris hadn’t closed 🙁 was talking about that place today and searched online your blog came up…being from NOLA its nice to see your experience was enjoyable!

    • Meihoukai
      October 9 2018

      You have such a cool hometown! I’m obsessed with New Orleans <3