EMPIRE BAR AT BROUSSARD’S NEW ORLEANS

The original owner of Broussard’s was a big fan of Napoleon and named the Empire Bar in honor of the general. His brandy appears in a list of signature cocktails created by booze star and head bartender Paul Gustings. Drinks from Paul are often full of surprises. His Ramos Gin Fizz (made in less than five minutes with a secret technique) is one of the best in the city, as is his Sidecar made with Armagnac. He delights in making obscure, historic drinks. His milk punch, for example, is nothing like the creamy Brandy Milk Punch that appears on so many New Orleans menus, though he will make you one of those if you specify so. Instead, his version is unusually light and refreshing. He recently created a flight of five New Orleans signature drinks, serving two ounces each of a Sazerac, a La Louisiane, a Vieux Carre, a Roffignac, and a Pousse-Cafe. Paul looks like a grumpy Santa Claus, but if you are interested in going down a deep rabbit hole of obscure eighteenth and nineteenth century drinking, he is your guy. The happy hour is worth trying to hit, not only for its drink specials but its tasty snacks, in particular the crab sliders. The bar is small and perfectly fine for sitting and visiting with Paul, but weather permitting you should take your drink outside. Take a seat under the 150-year-old wisteria or at one of the wrought-iron tables in the middle of the space. Broussard’s was once part of a larger property built in 1837 by Samuel Hermann. The gate in the back wall of the courtyard leads to the Hermann Grima historic home, which is open for daily tours. It’s easy to spend a late afternoon in the Broussard’s courtyard, enjoying your drink and pretending you are a wealthy nineteenth-century merchant, like Samuel Hermann, away from the hustle of the city.

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