There was a time period when I considered Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith's Shop to be just about the best study break going. There was a French piano player there named Jean who never finished a song, but would belt down a glass of red wine before running around the piano half-way through. That was my youth.
Today, New Orleans' hipsters have other hangouts. I was amused to read in the Times-Picayune's weekend guide, Laginiappe, about three popular spots and their typical clientele.
3067 St. Claude Ave.
Average drink prices: Beer $2.25; cocktails $4
Crowd: Hipsters, spirited drinkers and music lovers
This fabled New Orleans dive features two stories covered with newspaper clips, party photos and various paintings. Since longtime proprietor O'Neil Broyard died, the bar is open sporadically for shows. DJs Matt Ulhman and Kristin Zoller host the popular Mod night.
ST. ROCH TAVERN
1200 St. Roch Ave.
Average drink prices: Well $3, domestic bottle $2
Crowd: Neighborhood people, hipsters, gutter punks, dogs
Food: Corn dogs and mini pizzas
Hours: noon to 4 a.m.
This smoky spot with a long, wrap-around bar sits in the heart of the St. Roch neighborhood and is highly popular with kids living off the grid. The natural yellow glow, brown wood paneling and dark green walls give the bar's unmanufactured decor a late-1970s vibe. The pub features a piano, jukebox, pool table and cigarette machine. On Saturday nights, DJ Rusty Lazer runs one of the best bounce parties from a slightly raised stage in the middle of the room and the "booty poppers" stay late.
961 St. Mary St.
Crowd: Hipsters, uptown gutter punks, cool kids, Zach Galifianakis-look-alikes
Hours: 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Red and blue lamps, multicolored Christmas lights and neon beer signs illuminate this cavernous bar, smelling of freshly lit cigarettes. Each evening has a special theme: Sundays: Hangover Tavern with DJ Pasta; Mondays: $1 Schlitz and Miss Allison's Red Beans; Tuesdays: Tikioke Tuesdays with Tiki Drinks; Metal Wednesdays; Thirsty Thurz: $2 Tecates, $4 El Jimador and Sauza, Fridays: TGIF with Swirl and Saturdays: DJ Musa's Obsession Dance Party.
SNAKE AND JAKE CHRISTMAS CLUB LOUNGE
7612 Oak St.
Average drink prices: Well: $3.5, domestic, $2.5; Schlitz $1 and imports $4
Crowd: Service industry employees, neighborhood people, graveyard shift drinkers and college students
Hours: 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
This is New Orleans' quintessential late-night bar. It has been a watering hole of some sort since the mid-1920s. A classic dive, the light inside reflects the casual disrepair of your favorite frat basement. Approximately the size and width of a double-wide trailer, the room is cozy and ideal for the last stop on a long night.
Check out this flowchart guide to drinking in New Orleans.