When in...New Orleans

12.11.2009

By Jason Rowan

The city of real brotherly love proves it’s bouncing back.

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Originally published in the December 2009/January 2010 issue of Out.

Through hell and (quite literally) high water the nearly 300-year-old city has managed to remain faithful to its complex homegrown identity in a way no other major American city has -- a testament to both the hardy soul of the community and the enthusiastic efforts of outsiders who have reinvested and rebuilt much of the Big Easy.

The cross-section of cultural influences here -- French, Cajun, Creole, Latin American -- has created a unique culture that values music, food, drink, and richness of soul above money or material gain. And unlike the rest of the South, uninhibited sexuality has always been a mainstay, well before Truman Capote arrived. A steady influx of creative northerners drawn to the city?s vitality have made it a hotbed of new boutiques, art galleries, funky restaurants, and caf?s?but it?s the live music that unifies the community.

With bars open 24 hours a day, and a laissez-faire approach to open containers -- try wandering under the lush foliage of Uptown or between the boho-hipster axis of the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods with a Hurricane or Abita beer in hand -- the entire city feels like one big progressive party.

THE SOUNDS
Bacchanal
BacchanalWine.com
This sprawling backyard in the Bywater area offers a bohemian atmosphere, fantastic jam sessions, and a small but superb wine list.
600 Poland Ave.
(504) 948-9111

Maple Leaf
MapleLeafBar.com
The most authentic Uptown live music venue -- dark, sweaty, and grimy. Tuesdays the Rebirth Brass Band rocks the house.
8316 Oak St.
(504) 866-9359

THE DRINK
Cure
CureNola.com
One of the best-stocked bars in the country with some of the boldest bartenders, this is the spot for serious craft cocktails.
4905 Freret St.
(504) 302-2357

R Bar
RoyalStreetInn.com
A hipster hangout for relaxed drinking and a meet-up spot between live music stops.
1431 Royal St.
(504) 948-7499

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