I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a bar like Cane & Table in a James Bond movie. I kept expecting 007 to stroll in and order a daiquiri (in lieu of his usual martini) before joining a villain or beautiful woman (or both) at one of the tables along the patina-rich walls. The Caribbean vibe manifests throughout the bar, from the French doors leading to the lush patio to the fresh pineapples placed on tabletops and along the marble bar. The glow from mismatched, cloudy chandeliers casts a warm light. Drinking at Cane & Table feels like you are drinking in another country, and that’s saying something in New Orleans, a city that already feels about as far from the United States as you can go without a passport. This sense of journeying away from the mainland is echoed by a compass rose placed in the middle of a menu that does its utmost to steer guests in the direction that best fits their drinking needs.
The bartender insisted that everyone, not just cocktail nerds, can have a good time at Cane & Table. When a bar is located on the busy end of Decatur, it needs to be able to satisfy the many kinds of patrons who may walk through the door. But he also admitted that while he can make a vodka and soda for those who want one, Cane & Table is as much a rum collector and aficionado bar as anything else. Cane & Table treats rum with a reverence usually reserved for whiskey in this country. All of the bartenders here are incredibly knowledgeable about the spirit, well-schooled by rum connoisseur and co-owner Nick Dietrich. They can rhapsodize about their drinks and rums in a slightly geeky way. Some may find that level of knowledge off-putting, but I think it’s rather endearing. For centuries, rum has been scorned as the drink of pirates and spring breakers getting hammered on the beach. It’s nice to see it spoken of with such adoration and passion. Cane & Table is a not a tiki bar but a rum bar, a distinction that matters if you are looking for a Zombie or Mai Tai.
If that is your bag, you should head up Decatur to either Latitude 29 or Tiki Tolteca. Instead, Cane & Table’s focus is on what they call proto-tiki, rum drinks that inspired or led to tiki. Feel free to consult the map/menu, but I also recommend putting yourself in the hands of the very talented folks behind the bar, who can transport you to other lands while you stay firmly planted on your stool.