Arnaud’s French 75
One of two bars that are part of Arnaud’s — the historic French-Creole restaurant that’s long been a fixture in the French Quarter — the French 75 is known for tapping into its rich history to create an innovative contemporary drinking experience.
Head bartender Chris Hannah, who took over not long after Hurricane Katrina struck, revels in both bringing new life to forgotten cocktails and creating custom mixes for this storied establishment. It was awarded the 2017 James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program, after having been a finalist in both 2015 and 2016.
And Esquire, when naming the French 75 as one of the “15 Bars Every Man Should Drink In Before He Dies,” touched directly on another reason why this is such an extraordinary place to drink: “Because it’s beautiful. Some bars are beautiful.” It’s a dark, luxurious space with vintage lighting, comfortable chairs and small sofas, and a crisp, patterned tile floor.
The most famous cocktail at the French 75 is, well, the French 75. At Arnaud’s, it’s a distinct mixture of Courvoisier VS cognac, champagne, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a lemon twist, chilled and served in a frosted champagne tulip glass. The cocktail came before the bar, having been a drink most likely developed in Paris — perhaps named after the 75-millimeter field gun the French Army used in the World War I — and became popular in the United States in the following decades. So popular that it’s one of only two cocktails ordered by name in the classic film Casablanca (feel free to re-watch the movie and try to catch it).
But Hannah doesn’t rest on the bar’s namesake. His Bywater — created in 2007 and named in honor of the artsy New Orleans neighborhood — is a rum-based drink with Green Chartreuse, Averna Amaro, and velvet falernum accompaniment. And a holiday special is the Tom & Jerrys, a warmed variation of eggnog, with a complex egg-white meringue base to which is added — when the drink is ordered — hot water, whiskey or cognac, and nutmeg.
“I wanted to make sure an old bar could do the same things the new Brooklyn-style bars can do,” Hannah once told the local paper, the Times-Picayune. “This bar is no longer just a lounge for the restaurant. It’s a destination.”
This is a watering hole popular with everyone, locals and tourists alike. It’s a famous bar in one of the city’s most famous restaurants, deep in the heart of the French Quarter.
Photo Credits: Arnaud’s Restaurant
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