Alan Walter, the new(ish) creative director at Loa, the bar at the International House, was stamping menus (on vintage game boards) when I wandered in. I was intrigued by his foppish hair and 70s style ensemble – and even more intrigued by his experiments with unusual ingredients, like Spanish moss, which he brews into a tea, then makes into a simple syrup. I tried the Jean Lafitte, a rum-and-pisco cocktail served in a coupe glass with a dried lime and fennel rim. It almost made me forget I'd been drinking for three days straight.
New Orleans is a town that knows how to drink. Whatever time of day—before dinner, after dinner, at brunch—and whatever your tipple of choice, there's a bar that fits the bill. If rum is your poison, try Cane & Table, a proto-Tiki bar from cocktail guru Neal Bodenheimer. On Rampart Street, Bar Tonique is part dive, part craft cocktail bar where you can find classic sips, like a Sazerac or Vieux Carré, plus sours, slings, possets, and punches. For draft beers with a side of music, try d.b.a. on Frenchman Street, and Loa, the bar at the International House Hotel, which has a glamorous clientele and seasonal concoctions by mixologist Alan Waters.