Saturday, February 9, 2013

New Orleans Speakeasy: Old Absinthe

December 5th, 2013 marks the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, and to celebrate, Mystery Playground (and friends) are visiting modern takes on the speakeasy across the country. John Lafitte's Old Absinthe House is the latest on our list and part of our special New Orleans Mardi Gras feature coverage. 

The Old Absinthe has been in the same location for more than 200 years, except for the Prohibition years when it was moved to a secret location down the street (the real speakeasy location is now a place called the Mango, Mango Daquiri shop, although there are at least three of these on Bourbon Street and we couldn't tell which one was it.) 

This bar boasts that several celebrities have visited including: 
Oscar Wilde, P.T. Barnum, Mark Twain, Jenny Lind, Enrico Caruso, General Robert E. Lee, Franklin Roosevelt, Liza Minelli and Frank Sinatra. They also say that the Pirate John Lafitte and Andrew Jackson planned how to win the battle of New Orleans on the second floor of the building.

Edgar Degas L'Absinthe 1876, Degas lived in New Orleans at one point.

The walls of the bar are now covered with thousands of old business cards from visitors (Am I the only one that thinks stapling your business to card to anything in a Bourbon Street bar, or any bar really, is a bad idea?)


Here is the recipe for the house drink, The Absinthe House Frappe. 

The Absinthe House Frappe
Created here in the 1860's by Cayetano Ferrer.
Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice add:
1 1/4 ounce of Herbsaint (this replaces the absinthe)
1/4 ounce of Anisette
top with a splash of soda water

The Old Absinthe website has quite a few cocktail recipes posted. 

Food: They do not serve food, but there is food upstairs at the Bistro.

Old Absinthe House is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans on Bourbon Street between Beinville and Iberville Streets. It is easy to find and there is no password required.

What Are Speakeasies?
Speakeasies were essentially secret bars that sprang up when the United States outlawed alcohol in 1919. 
Most speakeasies were housed in unmarked locations, many required a password to get in and some may have even moved from place to place to stay ahead of the law. Many think the name came from patrons being told to "speakeasy" or to lower their voices so no one suspected they were serving alcohol. 

Today, there are many modern speakeasies that retain some of these traditions. Usually they feature fresh ingredients in their food and drink, and though the secrecy is no longer needed, many are in discreet locations that lack signage. Some even require passwords.

You can read about Mystery Playground's other speakeasy adventures here

1 comment:

  1. This place looks awesome. So jealous. It's now added to my bucket list.