Most bars in the French Quarter seem to cater to either Mardi Gras bead-wearing revelers looking for the strongest neon drink money can buy, or more upscale cocktail connoisseurs looking for the most creative drinks money can buy. Bourbon O caters to both. Bourbon
O is one of the only bars on Bourbon Street that I know of where you can order a Vieux Carre and a Jaeger Bomb at the same time and know that both will be equally satisfying. In fact, they have an entire menu of drink bombs from which to choose, some of which are riffs on classic cocktails like the Death in the Afternoon Bomb and the Last Word Bomb. Bar manager Cheryl Charming (and she certainly is!) said that when she took over the bar, she insisted that she be able to serve the needs of the many different customers who come through her doors.
Knowing about the bar’s two doors is actually the key to understanding her patrons. One door opens to the lobby of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, a building dating to the nineteenth century and serving an upscale clientele. The other door opens to Bourbon Street, serving, well, everyone else. The decor of the bar also seems to find a happy middle ground. Its sleek, black marble bar and candlelit lounge area are elegant escapes from Bourbon Street, and the shiny Bourbon O Bar sign above the stage evokes a 1950s glamour, back when tourists came to Bourbon Street to see burlesque performers like Evangeline the Oyster Girl and Blaze Starr. It feels both classy and a bit showy. The bar’s menu is a delight, designed like a newspaper that is republished with every changing season. Though their cocktails may seem a bit pricey ($12-$ 15), they are all well crafted. Cocktail fans will want to be sure to order a Ramos Gin Fizz, just so they can see the shaking machine Charming has installed to ensure the drink is well mixed. The nightly jazz band (no cover) keeps the room lively. I love the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow in this bar, and when I return, I’m totally doing that Last Word Bomb.