One thing this country has always enjoyed is a good drink. Whether it was rum on the Atlantic, bourbon at the races or that Bloody Mary at Sunday Brunch, alcohol is the American Drink.

This city, man, I tell you. I can’t stop talking about New Orleans. I can’t stop writing about it and since I left, details of the iron and stone work, wood beams and even the grass growing between the streetcar tracks keep making their way into my head. This city is ornate and down to earth, decadent and noble, traditional and unconventional. This city has many reasons to hold its nose up at the rest of the country but somehow manages to keep it real.

How could we ignore this city? You can’t ignore this city. It was the opening to our westward expansion. It gave us jazz, cajun food and creole cuisine, and produced the pirate Jean Lafitte, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Elmore Leonard, Tennesse Williams, Louis Armstrong1, and you can get a good drink anywhere.

UPDATE:2It’s said that if you look at New Orleans’ history — founded by the French, occupied briefly by the Spanish and sold to the Americans— that there’s a real sense that we’re simply the latest landlord to sit in the chair, and well after we’re gone, this city will remain New Orleans. JT rightly stated that it is the type of city where you rest when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry and drink when you’re sober.

On my last day in New Orleans, I ducked into a quiet cafe to wait out the rain. Across the street, a jazz guitarist with a grey ponytail and red muscle-shirt, pawed out a quite, romantic tune. A sparrow with a crown and gold bill fluttered in, landing on a table and eyeballed the pretty lady in gladiator sandals. A couple men in straw hats talked their business talk— passively ignoring their wives, intentionally ignoring the bird— as it needle-and-threaded for crumbs. The rest of us— Gladitoria, trophy wives ordained in turquoise, Japanese students, squirmy kids struggling to understand why the family vacationed in this place— noticed each other noticing the sparrow, shared a smile and returned to our isolated lives. Realizing that I planted myself in the middle of the most cliché situation I could, I ordered a soy cafe-au-lait to keep it real.

This city. Man, I tell you.

This is the last in a five-part story about my first trip to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail 2011. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Thanks for reading along.

  1. And many, many more. - List of People from New Orleans, Wikipedia. 

  2. Published an older draft because I’m keeping it real. 

Posted at 9:30pm and tagged with: two column, Albert,.

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