New Orleans: Bar Tonique / Clover Grill A Pleasantly Unexpected Night Out
The only night we went out in the French Quarter was our last night in New Orleans. We had made plans to meet up with our good friend Taylor, who moved to NOLA to go to law school at Tulane. We caught wind of a bar near Louis Armstrong Park that serves classic cocktails and has a five dollar happy hour.
Back in New York, we had grown accustomed to finely crafted cocktails. I worked at a speakeasy-style cocktail bar and John would visit often. It's where he learned to love whiskey. When we first met, just the smell of it would make him gag. Now it's all he wants to drink. Unfortunately for us, there aren't too many fancy cocktail bars on the road (we've resorted to making our own Old Fashioneds) but this place, Bar Tonique, came highly recommended by an old co-worker. And we were hankerin' for a good drink.
We arrived around five, walking into a light-filled room with a rectangular bar and small tables lining the walls. Chalkboard menus hanging on the exposed brick wall listed an impressive selection of local brews and classic Prohibition-era cocktails. Glass bottles of various bitters and house-made syrups and juices lined the bar. Everything and everyone was relaxed and friendly, with the added bonus of fantastic cocktails. Other bar patrons acted as if they'd known us and each other for years and we struck up cocktail-fueled conversations with one another.
Once Taylor arrived, we caught up over refreshing and all-too-drinkable Moscow Mules (ginger syrup, lime juice, vodka and soda) which happened to be the five dollar drink of the day. After many rounds (there were lots of "just one more"'s), we had some serious drunchies (drunk munchies) so we paid or tab and hit the streets of New Orleans.
We stumbled just a few blocks south and found ourselves on the crowded, tourist-tastic Bourbon Street. On the corner, we spotted a classic greasy spoon diner that would likely satisfy and cravings we had. We sat at the counter of the nearly empty diner and ordered biscuits and gravy and a chicken fried steak sandwich from the quick-witted grill man. As greasy and satisfying as you would expect, it hit the spot. Real hard. Finding Clover Grill (I had no idea what the place was called until I started writing this) was not what we expected, but was in fact the most perfect place we could stumble upon.
If you don't feel like elbowing your way through the drunken frat boys on Bourbon Street or sitting quietly in a jazz bar sipping on overpriced drinks, please go to Bar Tonique. Possibly on of the best bars I've been to in years. It's the perfect place; welcoming, unpretentious, laid back and has great cocktails to boot. And if you've had too many of those great cocktails (which you will, they're so good), head on over to Clover Grill; they will fill your belly with exactly what you need to get yourself home safely and full.