French toast, Cajun bloody Mary’s and its signature bananas Foster desserts.
We also ventured to newer spots like Maypop
in the Warehouse District, blending Southeast
Asian and Southern cuisine…and the ubiquitous
Even better than partaking in the New Orleans
cocktail scene, we actually learned how to make
our own at Drink Lab, run by Daniel Victory and
Camille Whitworth. We each had our own station
with various liquors, and under the guidance of
Victory created classics like the Sazerac, Hurricane and the Ramos Gin Fizz. Lulu White’s early
1900s-era portrait in the bar added local flavor.
“She was the most over-the-top, gregarious,
dripping with jewelry madam of that time,”
Drink Lab caters to groups of up to 36 with
private mixology and spirits tasting classes.
Between events we had time to wander the
French Quarter, alive with street musicians,
horse-drawn carriages, art galleries and in Jackson Square, caricaturists, palm readers, tarot
card specialists and self-proclaimed psychics.
Along nearby Frenchmen Street, in the Faubourg
Marigny area, music blared out of bars like The
Spotted Cat Music Club and Maison.
In the Quarter, I checked out the Historic
New Orleans Collection history museum; Voodoo
Museum, a tiny space overflowing with altars
and voodoo history; and the Museum of Death,
focusing on serial killers, morbid video footage
While the French Quarter is thankfully much
the same since my last visit, the Warehouse, or
Arts District of New Orleans (ADNO), has blossomed with a dozen galleries, restaurants, bars
“I can’t tell you how much the area has
changed,” said our walking-tour guide, Les-lie-Claire Spillman, director of Soren Christensen
Buildings that house many galleries were
warehouses before the 1984 World’s Fair, and
then later were offered as gallery space to local
“Now it’s one of the richest areas of the city,”
The area is also filled with impressive cultural
venues that have enough space for groups,
including the sprawling National WWII Museum,
brought to life with videos, personal stories and
On my visit in 2005, the Lower Ninth Ward,
which was largely under water after Hurricane
Katrina, was in shambles. Out of curiosity, this
visit I ventured to the tiny Lower Ninth Ward
Living Museum, featuring displays about the
turbulent history of that area, which is still struggling to make a comeback.
Still, New Orleans at 300 has much to cele-
brate, and we did. During our farewell evening at
NOPSI we were treated to a private dinner with
the hotel’s executive chef, Peter Page, in the
Dryades Ballroom, formerly a loading area during
the building’s years in the utility industry.
NOPSI held our sendoff champagne toast in
the Power Suite replete with patio views of the
city lights, as a reimagined NOLA showed she’s
only getting better with age. m
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