Cradle of Jazz Tour
After snapping images of his hometown for more than 30 years,
former The Times-Picayune photojournalist John McCusker is
taking another look at New Orleans—through the lens of history,
leading tours that trace the birth of jazz via the homes and
haunts of Armstrong and Morton as well as pioneers like King
Oliver and Edward “Kid” Ory (about whom McCusker wrote
a biography, titled Creole Trombone).
McCusker’s Cradle of Jazz Tour takes about two hours and can
be as intimate as four people in a van or a busload of up to 55.
LOUISIANA CAJUN-ZYDECO FESTIVAL Mixing It UP
New Orleans may be the birthplace of jazz, but it’s also where the cocktail was born, created by a local apothecary in 1838 using a measuring cup then known as a “coquetier,” from which the word
“cocktail” was derived.
Combine that fact with French/Cajun fare and a plugged-in bar scene,
and it’s no wonder that food and drink are right up
there on many to-do lists here.
Just as you might want to take home recipes for
crawfish etouffee and jambalaya, you might want to
learn to make your own Crescent City cocktails. The
following two venues can help:
• The Hilton New Orleans Riverside (www.hilton
neworleansriverside.com) offers hands-on mix-
ology classes in Public Belt, the speakeasy-style
piano lounge hidden on the hotel’s second floor.
The crash course begins with a history lesson of
the cocktail followed by an interactive demonstration crafting the city’s
signature drink, the Sazerac—a concoction of French brandy and bitters and holding the distinction of being the first “branded” cocktail.
• Set in the heart of downtown, the New Orleans Drink Lab (www.drink
labnola.com) was founded by master bartender Daniel Victory, who
together with his team offers two-hour sessions for six to 20 people on
creating everything from the Sazerac to the Hurricane and the Ramos
“Our classes are hands-on, fun and interactive,” said co-owner
Camille Whitworth. “Guests learn the history, tradition and culture of
New Orleans cocktails and then get behind the bar and make their
own. It’s great for corporate teambuilding. We try to keep the lessons
to New Orleans classics, but are always open to customizing based on
the guest’s request,” she added.
– Lisa Simundson
NEW ORLEANS DRINK LAB