New Project: “The French Quarter 100: A Drinking Companion to America’s Most Eccentric Neighborhood”


When I was a kid, I wanted to be a novelist. Forget cowboys and doctors and lawyers and such: I wanted to be the Madeleine L’Engle of my generation.

This did not happen.

This did not happen because eventually I realized that I can do short stories and essays and the occasional one-act play, but I probably don’t have the ability/interest/desire to pull off a full-length work of fiction. Not a good one, anyway. So, I’ve left that to the people who know what they’re doing. Which is fine, because the world has enough half-assed novels, am I right?

Over time, blogging became my thing, my niche. I may not be great at it, but it gives me the opportunity to get the wordsmithing bug out of my system. I’d pretty much given up on writing a book at all, until my friends Elizabeth and Allison approached me about putting together a field guide for people who want to booze it up in New Orleans’ Vieux Carré.

Long story short: we drafted a proposal, found an agent, and the book is moving forward, with the working title, The French Quarter 100: A Drinking Companion to America’s Most Eccentric Neighborhood. Elizabeth, Allison, and I are writing it under the collective pseudonym “The League of Spirited Tipplers”. Jonno has graciously agreed to provide photographic support.

“Why the hell would you need to write a book like that?” you ask. “You can’t swing a cat without hitting a bar in the French Quarter. How hard could it be to find a decent drinking spot?”

Sugar, it is harder than you think.

For starters, there are plenty of terrible watering holes in the Quarter — places I wouldn’t send my worst enemies. (Not that I have many enemies, I hope.) These are places where the booze is expensive and/or watered down, where two-drink minimums are strictly enforced, and where the clientele is unpleasant enough to make the Real Housewives of Atlanta look fun.

Furthermore, there are a bejillion different kinds of bars in the Quarter. Maybe you’re all dressed up and ready to sip Sambuca. If so, wandering into the Double Play is probably going to be a disappointment, but just around the corner, you’ll find the Bombay Club. Mission accomplished.

So, the point of all this is to say that (a) we’re working on the book now, and (b) I heartily encourage you to check out our growing website and to like us on Facebook. For now, those sites are focused on general bar info, like cocktail recipes, vintage lounge accouterments, booze news, and so on, but we’ll be incorporating French Quarter-specific items soon.

I’m pretty excited about the book, and I think it’s going to be a very good read. Plus, since it’s really just a collection of short-form essays, I feel like I’m totally in my element. Win.

If you’d like a little more info, here’s an excerpt from the book’s description:

For years, family, friends, and total strangers have hounded us for tips about the best French Quarter bars. Now, we’re putting our hard-earned knowledge to use in a new guidebook called The French Quarter 100: A Drinking Companion to America’s Most Eccentric Neighborhood.

What makes the French Quarter unique? Apart from the historic architecture and open container laws, it’s mostly a matter of geography. Technically speaking, the Quarter covers less than one square mile, but it contains countless worlds within, seamlessly slipping from upper-crust to low-rent in a space of 30 feet. You can start with a Sazerac at the seersucker-friendly Carousel Bar, toddle out the front door, and before you’ve hit the midway point, you’re whooping it up with the frisky transsexual clientele at Le Roundup.

Over the course of the book, the three of us wander from bar to bar, taking notes as we go: what’s playing on the jukebox? Who’s passed out in the corner? And most importantly, what the heck are these people drinking? Read along, and you’ll vicariously join us on the dance floor, sample some improvised shots, eavesdrop on the bar patrons, and of course, check out the bathroom.

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