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“More "authentic" than the other tourist traps.”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Old Absinthe House

Old Absinthe House
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: This historic building, which dates back to 1806, now houses a bar and two restaurants.
Miami
Level Contributor
33 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“More "authentic" than the other tourist traps.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 12, 2010

First visit to New Orleans. I was in town on a Microsoft convention and got invited to a vendor sponsored event at the Absinthe House. Can't say that I am a NOLA expert in a any way, shape or form...but this little hole in the wall seemed to offer far more local appeal, ambience and history, then the various "get sh*tfaced here" cantinas scattered abundantly about ON Bourbon St. Now, "off" Bourbon is another question, as there are various great "old style pubs" down the may alleways and interesections of the French Quarter....but if your main focus is to grab a few drinks and share a conversation for a bit, without wandering around, then this might be as good a spot as there is on "the strip". Not sure if the absinthe is "done right" or not, because that's just not my cup of tea....but apparently there is an "absinthe drip" that has been around since the 19th century. Good times, good drinks, good tunes, OK food (but I wouldn't recomend going for that.)

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1 Thank xandergomez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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234 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Lexington, Kentucky
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Hobnob with Walt Whitman”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 16, 2009

We visited the Old Absinthe House after visiting New Orleans' absinthe museum, so we were surprised that the bar violated two of the main facets of the absinthe ritual: They set the sugar cube on fire (which is a recent Czech practice that was never done in the days or venues of Toulouse-Lautrec, "Moulin Rouge" notwithstanding) and they let the water pour into the absinthe over the course of maybe 30 seconds, not drip by drip over a few minutes (the careful blending effect you'd get with an absinthe fountain or a two-part glass -- getting the absinthe to be milkily diluted is necessary).

However, we had explained that we were newbies to absinthe, and the bartender showed us the half-dozen brands, explained the varying levels of flavor and popularity (one brand is bluer and mintier if you're not crazy about anise), and prepared us for the $14-$17 price tag per glass.

The drink was surprisingly potent -- take it slow; don't split one and gulp it down like the couple next to us. I was not that enamored after the first tastes, but 20 minutes later I was looking forward to having it again sometime.

The bar's ambience is decrepit, in the good NOLA way. There are autograph registers on display, one signed by Billy Joel, and one ancient one with signatures such as "I.P. Freely" in spidery fountain pen. The tour books will tell you that this place was frequented by Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, which was exciting, since some of the decor looked unchanged since those days. It was Oscar Wilde who said one of the great quotes about any beverage: "After the first glass [of absinthe], you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.'" Not crazy about the bar's football helmets -- why be a half-hearted sports bar when you have something much more special to offer? Be sure to look at the historic photos of the bar over time.

At the absinthe museum, you will learn that the "toxic, dangerous" elements of old-time absinthe were: green colorings such as copper sulfate (used only in the lower-grade brands) and the relatively high amount of alcohol (when compared to wine -- vintners demonized absinthe in an effort to regain dominance after a crippling blight sent wine sales into eclipse). The absinthe you can buy today is not necessarily that much different from the better brands from 1900; wormwood, in limited amounts, is present, and it was present back then too, also in usually limited amounts.

Go to the Absinthe Museum on Royal Street first -- you'll enjoy the experience far more. And don't let the bartender set the sugar on fire.

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3 Thank BeeLex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jacksonville, FL
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Best bar on Bourbon”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 22, 2009

My husband was pleasantly surprised to learn they served absinthe - thought it wasn't legal in the states. Had a great bartender that explained the beverage and the different kinds available. Place has a great ambiance, great staff. Would recommend to anyone.

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1 Thank justtravelinthru
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Knoxville TN
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Step Back in Time at the Old Absinthe House”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 30, 2006

My husband and I have returned to New Orleans three times since Katrina. We've visited five times in five years, and one day we'll retire here. We can hardly wait to make the Old Absinthe House our "local" pub. This place is dripping in history. It will be 200 years old next year. Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson planned the defense of New Orleans against the British in this bar. And the names of the distinguished men and women who have visited (including four Presidents, a nobel winning author, the greatest operatic tenor ever, military heroes -- even Babe Ruth) have made their way to a plaque on the wall outside the bar. If you're a tourist strolling down Bourbon Street, you might barely notice the charm, but if give it enough time to savor it, you'll never want to leave! In some ways, the Old Absinthe House doesn't belong amid the tacky bars and neon lights of Bourbon Street -- then again, maybe IT DOES belong and the rest do not!! Nothing beats a "Lemon Ice" for cooling you down on a hot summer day (and let's face it, all days in N'awlins are hot in the summer) -- especially when it's served up by our favorite bartender, Lisa, a 15-year veteran of the bar. 'Nuff said.

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4 Thank Grandma_Lolly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
“From High Profile Attorney's To Off Duty Bell Boys - There Is A Stool For All”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 30, 2006

This bar is probably my favorite experience from New Orleans. Definitely the best experience of the French Quarter and 100% cert the best experience on Bourbon Street.

With temperatures soaring to 100 degrees my wife & I occupied the same two bar stools for three afternoons in the Old Absinthe and saw everyone from extremely well to do Attorneys, to off duty Bell Boys, to local residents, to us tourists.

You see, you can drift into any bar in Bourbon Street and immediately you're parting with your cash/tip to a non-face who won't remember you or what you are drinking 10 minutes later when you're trying to get their attention for another round. Here though the staff ensure Bartending is a fine art. We were complete strangers and yet we ran up a $52 tab and we were never pushed for payment until WE were ready.

The only negative thing I would say is that the bar doesn't serve food (except for the free non-stop supply of home-made Popcorn) and the 5 star "Jean Lafitte's Bistro" upstairs is somewhere I'd probably not feel too comfortable attending after a few lazy hours of drinking beer. Oh yeah, and there is the most tacky building over the road for a view called "The Phrat House" - the name says it all!

General information: Its only a block down Bourbon Street from Canal. I drank the local beer - Abita - which was dark and delicious and priced at $4. My wife drank cocktails that were specifically requested to be made weak and they averaged $6:50. That I know of, there is no live music to compete with - just a Juke Box. The barstaff are all long term employees - Diane is in her 16th year at the Old Absinthe and Lisa is in her 13th year. I think there were three gaming machines on site - so you're not competing with noise from those. The bar itself is square and positioned in the middle of the room with bar stools surrounding it - no tables except for a couple of high tables near the gaming machines. The place is absolutely dripping with history and previous posters have explained it far better than I could do.

I'll definitely be back next year for the two hundreth anniversary of the Old Absinthe House! I think us English should be safe enough to return by then! I might bring my dueling pistols just in case!

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2 Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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