A balanced blend of spirits for fine cocktails and a subtle blend of classic and contemporary are defining characteristics of Jewel of the South and Peychaud’s.
Now, the French Quarter’s two independent bars have gained major national recognition, making it onto Esquire magazine’s annual list of the 25 “Best Bars in America.”
Both were included in the story by Kevin Sintumuang who appeared in Esquire’s summer issue, part of a national survey of bars where “you don’t show up for a drink after work. You’ll feel like it’s your birthday, even if it’s just a Tuesday.”
Both bars strike a defiantly different tone from the lowest common denominator of tourist-driven French Quarter bars and reflect both cocktail history and modern style in evocative New Orleans settings. In other words, they’re precisely the kind of hospitality venue that lives up to the French Quarter’s rich heritage.
The Jewel of the South (1026 St. Louis St., 504-265-8816) opened in 2019 in a Creole house from the 1830s. Chris Hannah, a widely known authority on cocktails, is a partner and runs the bar, while chef Phil Whitmarsh serves a highly contemporary menu informed largely by modern British styles.
Sintumuang writes that Hannah makes “the best cocktails in this city, and therefore in America. You will have the best Sazerac here. The best 75 year old Frenchman. And several other obscure historical concoctions he dusted off, as well as sublime new creations. You’ll come for the drinks, but the decadent foods – Wagyu tongue, sweet breads, caviar – will have you staying for extra rounds.”
Peychaud’s (727 Toulousse St.) opened in the midst of the pandemic, moving shakers for the first time in April 2021. It’s the latest from Neal Bodenheimer and his partners at Cure Co., which runs the Uptown Cure bar and Cane restaurants. & Table and Val. Nicholas Jarrett, a longtime bartender at The Cure, the Saint and other bars, runs the drinks program, with a focus on classics.
The property, with an intimate bar and lush patio, was once the home of Antoine Amédée Peychaud, a 19th-century apothecary known to history as one of the most influential people in the cocktail world and namesake of the bitters that remain an essential bar.
Sintumuang praises the Sazerac here as well, and writes that “the professional move is to go out to the back patio and order Peychaud’s Fizz, a refreshing appetizer that will keep the neighborhood damp.”
The cocktail, a brandy crust, came to the table during the 19th century in New Orleans.
Just off Bourbon Street, a small French Quarter bar is stepping into some big shoes from New Orleans cocktail history.
Sazerac is so deeply rooted in New Orleans that, in many restaurants, ordering one of these cocktails practically counts as a first course.