I don’t usually spend much time here plugging my personal projects, but today, you’ll have to indulge me, because…
It’s finally here! The book that I’ve been working on the past two years has begun arriving in bookstores!
It’s called The French Quarter Drinking Companion, and it’s a guide to the Quarter’s 100 best bars.
My friends Allison, Elizabeth, and I wrote it because we were frustrated with most New Orleans travel guides. If you’ve ever read a guidebook for your own hometown, you know what I mean. You probably cringed at the glaring omissions, the over-simplifications, the gobs of utter crap that tourists were being fed.
In the case of New Orleans, the situation is about a bejillion times worse, because every visitor gets a different story of the city thanks to an off-kilter kaleidoscope of ghost tours and shopping tours and old home tours and — worst of all — mule buggy tours, which are like little Pilgrimages of Misinformation. In New Orleans, there are guidebooks about guidebooks about guidebooks, with errors piling up year after year. That kind of thing drives us crazy.
But what also drives us crazy is trying to explain the city’s nuances to everyone who swings through town. We tell visitors, “If you’re looking for a great cocktail, start here.” A few moments later, we add: “Unless Geraldo is working, in which case you should go to this other place.” And then: “But since it’s Wednesday, you should really avoid both of those and go to another bar three blocks over.” It never ends.
That doesn’t stop us from trying, of course, When travelers come to New Orleans — whether they’re family, friends, or complete strangers — we do our best to walk them through the city’s quirks and its unique cocktail culture. And every time, we fail. Miserably.
A couple of years ago, things go so bad that we decided to write a guidebook of our own — a different kind of guidebook. Instead of giving tipplers a fair-and-balanced list of every watering hole in town, instead of aiming for absolute, unbiased accuracy, we chose to profile our French Quarter favorites with 100 vignettes, anecdotes, snapshots. Sure, we’ve included the usual practical information: hours, prices, phone numbers, and so on. But the real focus of the book is the stories of our experiences at those bars.
The result is something that reads less like a series of Yellow Pages listings and more like a personal diary — less travel guide, more travelogue. People who’ve visited these bars before will say, “Yes! That’s exactly the vibe I remember!” And newbies will get a sense of what they’re in for. My friend Allison wrote a description that explains better than I can:
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.
The French Quarter Drinking Companion has already begun arriving in bookstores. Stagger on down to your favorite indie bookstore or big-box shop, or pay a visit to Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a nice, hefty discount.
If you live in New Orleans, or if you’re visiting this fall, you can also grab a copy at one of our readings/book-signings. We’ve got a launch party scheduled for Sunday, September 29 at One Eyed Jacks, and more are popping up all the time. Stay tuned!
P.S. If you like the cover — and of course you do — you can thank my talented photographer husband. Neither he nor I had anything to do with the outer text treatment, though. Yeesh.