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New Orleans Cocktails Movement In the Spotlight As 3 NOLA Bars and Bartender Named Semifinalists in 9th Annual Spirited Awards

New Orleans cocktail are wise and wonderful things. I mean where else do you find a whole movement, festival and awards dedicated to the promotion and enjoyment of it. It’s been claimed that the cocktail itself started in New Orleans at an apothecary shop, the museum of which still exists in the French Quarter next to Napoleon House. It’s also been claimed that the Sazerac was the very first cocktail ever.

New Orleans Cocktails Movement In the Spotlight As 3 NOLA Bars and Bartender Named Semifinalists in 9th Annual Spirited Awards

In this video we have Chris Hannah, finalist for American Bartender of the Year, who runs the French 75 Bar housed in Arnaud’s restaurant. Here he is talking about his take on the Sazerac, calling it “really masculine way” in the way they make it. Some ‘racs” can be too sweet and icky. But I’ve had the one at the French 75 and I can attest to its boldness and beauty.

If you watch the video he tells you exactly how they make the Sazerac and why it is so good. One secret is keeping the bottle of rye in the fridge. Hm. I will have to try that.

The beautiful Sazereac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.

The beautiful Sazereac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.

Here’s a little more info about the Awards on the NOLA.com site:

Earlier in the year, Arnaud’s French 75 was a semifinalist for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program (along with Cane & Table). (Sazerac and French 75 Bar were named to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’s list of Top 10 bars for 2014 while Cane & Table was named one of the Top 5 new bars for 2014. French 75 Bar subsequently won the readers’ poll of the Top 10 bars.)

So here’s to New Orleans cocktails. And really no one no where can make these blended bar drinks like we do in New Orleans.

Posted in New Orleans Business, New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans Food, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Recipes, New Orleans Restaurants, New Orleans Videos.

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Did Hurricane Katrina Really Doom New Orleans or Was it The Corps of Engineers? – Video

This coming August 2015 will mark the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and what it wrought on New Orleans and the surrounding   areas. But was the flooding by Katrina a natural disaster or was it man-made?

Did Hurricane Katrina Really Doom New Orleans or Was it The Corps of Engineers? – Video

This video by National Geographic pretty much spells is out. It talks about how the prevention of annual flooding by the river and the incursion of canals in the wetlands has pretty much caused a lot of the problems that our area has. But what it does not talk about, and this is huge missing from this video, is that the flooding after Katrina was caused by the poorly built levee and flood-wall systems of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

It’s important that people know this because the Corps has a multitude of projects all over the country. And the same thing could happen to any area overseen by the Corps that happened in New Orleans.

I don’t know why National Geographic failed to mention that in this video. But it is an important piece to understanding that New Orleans was almost destroyed after Hurricane Katrina and it was not by natural means at all, but a disastrous failure of the US government particularly the Corps of Engineers.

Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans History, New Orleans Landmarks, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Neighborhoods.

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Old New Orleans Jazz Clarinetist George Lewis Tears It Up on Mahogany Hall Stomp

One of our most famous New Orleans Jazz musicians was George Lewis. Not as well known as Louis Armstrong but in my view just as important, as were all those fellas back in the early days of Jazz

Old New Orleans Jazz Clarinetist George Lewis Tears It Up on Mahogany Hall Stomp

George Lewis travelled all over the world spreading the good news of  jazz. But strangely enough he was less well-known in his hometown New Orleans. I had only heard about him when it was announced he had died.

In the 1950s he became a popular figure in the New Orleans jazz revival movement. He played with all the early greats of the jazz movement, like Kid Ory, the Eureka Brass Band and others. For a time he was a regular at Preservation Hall.

He was relatively young by today’s standards, passing away in 1968 at 68. And his legacy lives on in the many albums he recorded. He was a New Orleans jazz classic.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music.

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Elvis Presley Sings the Song of the Shrimp – Best Song from the Movie King Creole Set in New Orleans French Quarter

Whenever our family gets together to play guitar and sing, usually Christmas night, we always add this sweet and upbeat song from Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley Sings the Song of the Shrimp – Best Song from the Movie King Creole Set in New Orleans French Quarter

The movie is set in New Orleans and filming was done in the French Quarter and in Hollywood. Michael Curtiz, a respected director, did the directing duties and was impressed with Presley as a person and as an actor. Carolyn Jones and Walter Matthau also star in it.

King Creole, one of Elvis Presley's best movies, is set in New Orleans French Quarter.

King Creole, one of Elvis’ best movies, is set in New Orleans French Quarter.

Funny thing about the video of the Song of the Shrimp is that the opening shot has mountains in the background! It’s a beautiful shot but heck we don’t got no mountains in Louisiana! The rest of the song looks like it may have been done on Lake Ponchartrain seeing how calm and flat the waters are. But I could be wrong. It was probably done in the L.A. area as well.

I perform once a month at the Neutral Ground Coffee House and Song of the Shrimp is usually part of my set. Although, no one can sing it like Elvis Presley.

Posted in New Orleans Landmarks, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans Videos.

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New Orleans Author Pens Beautiful Book About His Experiences Canoeing America’s Rivers

There have been many books written about the desecration of the American landscape by uncaring people, corporations and moneyed interests. New Orleans author and Tulane professor Oliver Houck has added his own memoir of his travels down some of the nation’s most beautiful rivers and added commentary on his experiences as he has seen rivers once beautiful become spoiled by narrow-minded humans.

New Orleans Author Pens Beautiful Book About His Experiences Canoeing America’s Rivers

Oliver Houck's Downstream Toward Home is a beautifully written, engaging look at American rivers.

Oliver Houck’s Downstream Toward Home is a beautifully written, engaging look at American rivers.

But desecration of beautiful American rivers is not what this book is really about. There are some writers who can just tell of their experiences in a matter-of-fact way to impart information that is all surface and no depth.

These are the books I start and perhaps put aside with the thought that, yes, what is here is worth reading, but somehow the author has not infused me some sense of wonder.

Oliver, who I know, calls the stories in Downstream Toward Home: A Book of American Rivers personal stories and as such perhaps he seems to indicate most people won’t be interested in them.

But this is precisely what makes this book so engaging, these trips down Americas rivers are close to his heart and he relates his journeys with personal insight and feeling.

Each chapter, which covers one trip on one river, is written like a short story, some only a few pages long. As I was reading I kept thinking, shoot I wish I could write like this, I wish I could see a scene and write it so easily and crisply that the images just jump off the page. Well, that is what Oliver has done.

I was amazed, while sitting with the book in my hand in the comfort of my home, as I was transported over tranquil waters, along the jumble of swamp and forests, under the spell of massive rock cliffs, and through dangerous rapids with the threat of injury or death ever near.

And somehow over the decades that he has been exploring rivers he has come through it all relatively unscathed and is able to relate to us what he has seen through his own unique viewpoint of someone who cares deeply about our natural inheritance and landscapes, and is able to look on the foibles of man and governments, who have sought to trample these beautiful wonders in the name of some type of ill-conceived progress, with forgiveness.

Many of the stories are exciting, some loaded with suspense as he meets some unsavory characters along the way who have him wondering if he’ll make it back to his car alive. And then there is the hair-raising adventure of being lost in the Atchafalaya and encountering a beast of a man crawfishing.

These stories are written with such beauty and eloquence, which only someone completely in love and inspired by the natural world could write. Here is an example early on in the book the type of writing that appears on every page.

“If there is a yet prettier river in Florida than Juniper Springs a strong candidate would be the Wicassa, which rises from its own springs in a Lord of the Rings landscape choked with cypress knees and then opens into a wide river with long grasses underneath that trail downstream in braids. Large fish pilot the canoe, spooked out of one refuge and seeking another. One afternoon Lisa and I watched an osprey dive down to take one, a reckless, all-out plunge into the water, and no sooner rise with the fish in its claws than meet an eagle screaming down out of the sun and set to rob him.”

His adventures stretch from Washington D.C., then down south, to the west all the way to the Northwest Territories where he engages us with a history lesson about the demise of a 150 men trying to find the Northwest Passage and his near-to-death encounter with a grizzly bear.

This is a book to be savored over time, not gotten through in a couple of sittings. And also good to be shared and read out loud with friends and family. If you want to learn something about America’s rivers, the beauty that awaits those adventurers who want to explore them, and perhaps to get an idea of what’s been lost with the onslaught of human progress and, despite this, what amazing beauty still remains, this is the book you must read.

Prepared to be moved, prepare to be inspired. You might just want to take a canoe and go out exploring yourself.

You can get the book Down Stream Toward Home on Amazon.com

This is Oliver Houck’s second book reviewed on this blog. His other book Down On The Batture is just as beautifully written and engaging. Check it out. Professor Houck is one of our best New Orleans authors.

Posted in New Orleans Books, New Orleans Life.

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