by Cara Christensen
We just came back from a weekend in the Big Easy, a great party package that included a Sharks game (yup, we won!) and an Abita Brewery tour with an open tap room. Tons of fun for this NOLA virgin!
What – a NOLA virgin? Now don’t start judging my capabilities to blog about beer partying. Rest assure that my beer resume includes some serious beer party weekends and stories over the last several decades, many of which I take to the grave. So having that said, lets get to business…….
Our party bus left downtown Jax at 9:00am sharp. We had an eclectic group on the bus – party goers and Sharks fans ranged in age from mid 20s to mid 70s, drinkers (most of us) and tea-tottlers, athletes and infirmed, locals and non-Floridians trekking the miles to join us for a great time. Since many of us were well seasoned party goers, the first beer and/or beverage was consumed well before we hit the county line.
For those of us in the front of the bus, our coolers were empty upon entering LA. I confess I made a rookie move and didn’t drink enough….err… any water during the day (evidently ice cubes don’t count), which snagged me later on. But the ride was smooth and our driver, Big John, was a real sport.
After checking into The Prince Conti Hotel (awesome rooms, btw!) our illustrious and semi-sober leader, Bill, took some of us on a walking tour of Bourbon Street. He pointed out great eateries, jazz clubs, strip joints, and tranny bars. He clearly knew the hot spots and local history of the area, too. But what blew me away were the street performers. These guys and gals were top notch acts that would take a whole ‘nother page to describe… unbelievable!
Lets fast forward into the evening and – you got it – the food. Now I’m a born and raised New Yorker who grew up along side some of the best ethnic food in the country. Hell, I used to cut school to grab a bite at Bobo’s in Chinatown or grab a connoli in Little Italy. But folks, I’m tellin’ ya this food was The Bomb: Grilled garlic oysters with Parmesan, fried Buffalo BBQ oysters with blue cheese, jambalaya out of this world, and of course beignets smothered in powdered sugar. Fear not my non-foody adventurers! Hard Rock Cafe and Krystals lined the street as well.
As the night progressed, so did the “free entertainment” that came out of the woodwork. Bill scored us a balcony view of Bourbon St at Bourbon Cowboy. Armed with beads, we provided many young ladies and their moms a chance to earn them, to which there was no shortage of tits, my friends.
The night stayed lively and our Play Harder group disbanded to enjoy their evening as they saw fit. One group from the Jax Beach area went to Elizabeth’s on Gallier St to enjoy superb dishes. They described going to Markey’s Bar, a local joint on Louisa St where customers would come in wearing bathrobes and slippers to grab a 2AM shot and a six pack. The group then ventured to One Eyed Jacks to hear the unbelievably talented jazz fusion band Morning 40 Federation before heading to Erin Rose on Conti St to start the morning with brews.
The next day we met up with Big John and headed over to the Abita Brewery. Now I’ve been on plenty of brewery tours, but this was the first one that allowed customers to pour their own 12oz in the tap room. Game On! I hit up the Restoration Ale and Abita Amber, while others sampled the Purple Haze, Jockamo IPA and Turbodog. I was surprised to learn that Abita is a “green brewery”, and as their web site states: Green brewing means that the Abita Brewing Company is committed to preserving the environment through conservation of resources, energy efficiency and corporate social responsibility. Way to go Abita! So check out their site for more information and a list of their delectable brews at abita.com. And if your’re in the area, don’t forget to explore their Abita Brew Pub Restaurant and Brewery where our group enjoyed more beers and delicious lunches. After arriving back at the hotel, the group took a breath and recharged to head over to the arena for the Sharks game against the NOLA Voodoo. We heard that the local game had the largest amount of opposing team fans that the Voodoo had seen in a long time (Hey, don’t mess with a Sharks’ fan). Overall, it was a great game and awesome win for our local Jax team!
So what did this Big Easy virgin learn? Thanks to my own experiences and tales from our party group, I learned that:
• $2 bloodies at 7:30am at the tranny bar are ALWAYS a good idea.
• It’s not odd to see a late middle-aged, white collar man with a 20 yr old hanging from his arm, wearing FMPs and a painted-on mini dress.
• There is no “walk of shame” if you are shameless.
• Always wear closed-toe shoes on Bourbon St (I won’t describe what you could step in)
• You can get thrown off a city bus only to have the driver come back to get you 15 mins later (now that IS a quickie).
• You can find unknown panties in your suitcase.
• There really is Big Ass Beer
• Cafe du Monde is awe-some!
• If you had a decent night of sleep, you didn’t do NOLA right.
All in all, it was an amazing trip. Bill Tabone put together a party package that allowed people to attend the events, yet have down-time to enjoy the evenings on their own. Joe and Suzanne Talentino of I Know Jax (CW 17 and Cable 9, Saturday at 8pm and midnight- check it out!) documented the trip, and I suspect the editors have quite a task to keep it as close to a family show as possible. As for me, I can hardly cover half the things we did in this writing. Mainly because there was SO much to do and clearly a portion that is not fit to print. The most important thing I learned is, what happens in NOLA, stays in NOLA.