The gifts have been opened, the living room is littered with paper and bows, but you find yourself left with one gift you can’t unwrap: the difficult relatives you have to entertain for three more days. By now you all need to get out of the house, and you, the host, sorely need a drink.
Fortunately, the French Quarter offers watering holes to please the most difficult visitor.
But even for locals, the myriad choices in the Quarter can be overwhelming. So, we’ve identified five of the most challenging houseguests and now offer a few suggestions of where to take them.
He’s already commented that New Orleans sure has a lot of litter, uneven sidewalks and “interesting” smells. He’s keeping careful watch on the ladies’ purses and notes that the city could use more driveways and garages. He doesn’t need a craft cocktail; he thinks New Orleans is muddled enough as it is.
Take him to Crescent City Brew House (527 Decatur St.): clean, well lit and familiar with a good selection of house-made and local beer. The St. Lawrence (219 N. Peters St.) is about as edgy as your uncle will go, with a good beer menu.
And the Green Bar in The Westin Hotel (100 Iberville St.) is orderly and efficient, with great views of the city and the river.
MISS ‘LET’S GO TO BOURBON STREET’
Our condolences. Pleasing her may require sacrificing dignity and brain cells. Chances are this relative is going back to a cubicle, a regional sales office, or a McMansion on the outskirts of Duluth. She is NOT leaving New Orleans without beads and a night she can’t remember. But if you’re willing to leave your standards and morals at home, you can have a blast on Bourbon Street. Damn the torpedos; full speed ahead.
Try the Cat’s Meow (701 Bourbon St.). Who doesn’t love karaoke?
There’s also the Krazy Korner (640 Bourbon St.) and The Famous Door (339 Bourbon St.): Spot-on cover bands, dayglo shooters, dancing.
Krazy Korner also has the benefit of a balcony from which your relative can shout any number of inappropriate comments.
Maison Bourbon (641 Bourbon St.) and Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub (733 Bourbon St.) will please the nostalgists who still associate Bourbon Street with traditional Dixieland jazz.
MS. ‘DON’T YOU DARE TAKE ME TO BOURBON STREET’
This visitor is terrified of doing anything touristy. In college she studied anthropology and now runs an Etsy shop from her converted warehouse loft.
She has spent Christmas complaining about American consumerism. Her gift to you? A card that says a tree has been planted in your name. She knows her way around Airbnb, but sadly, didn’t use it this time.
This person can still have a great time in the quarter. She’ll enjoy The Abbey (1123 Decatur St.): a bit smelly, but well off the tourist path — for the edgy or culturally adventurous. Sylvain (625 Chartres St.) offers an authentic, understated interior and inspired food and drink. And Bar Tonique (820 N. Rampart St.): Hipster-friendly craft cocktails and — should she be cleansing — Temperance drinks.
He doesn’t care if the bar is clean or well lit. He certainly doesn’t care about decor. All he’ll talk about when he gets home is how much stuff costs. A couple of reminders: Make sure to bring cash and lots of singles. Make sure he leaves an appropriate tip. After all, you have to live here.
But in the French Quarter, there’s plenty of cheap fun. Harry’s Corner Bar (900 Chartres St.), the Chart Room (300 Chartres St.) and Johnny White’s (733 St. Peter St.) all offer affordable options that don’t skimp on local character. And there are great local jukeboxes to complement the Yat accents.
This first-time visitor to New Orleans is probably the easiest of the bunch. The difficulty here is not wanting to disappoint your ingenue. Aim for iconic, visually appealing establishments that feel like the New Orleans she came to see — the ones that explain why you’ve never left. The best of the bunch might be the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St.): It’s pretty, shiny and it revolves. Then there’s Napoleon House (500 Chartres St.). While Uncle Straight-laces would observe that it could use a fresh coat of plaster, the Virgin sees the patina for what it is.
And of course, don’t miss Pat O’Brien’s (718 St. Peter St.) Touristy, yes, but the courtyard and its fountain of fire are spectacular. Try to remember the magic of your first time.
Allison Alsup, Elizabeth Pearce and Richard Read are the co-authors of “The French Quarter Drinking Companion.” They can be reached at spiritedtipplers.com.