Packing the Punch on Bourbon St.
All year long people flock to New Orleans to let loose. Some come to gamble and others come for that southern sin city vibe. No matter the reason, they are all here to drink. Bourbon Street lays in the middle of the French Quarter and is packed with tons of bars ready to drown you in any poison you desire. Drinking can be expensive here if you’re not careful, so I decided to be your test dummy and find out who was packing the best punch for the least amount of money. Sure there are spots along the strip that offer $2 near beers and $5 Huge Ass Beers but it can take some time to get that good warm feeling from beer. Plus you end up pissing it out most of the night. While I don’t condone binge drinking, I support a healthy and respectful attitude towards alcohol. It’s not hard to spot the people that clearly can't handle their liquor. Almost every block you walk down there is someone falling down or throwing up, and every other block there’s a couple fighting. Maybe it’s the humidity or hot air combined with too much liquor that makes people act this way. Either way, this was going to be an interesting test. To be fair I only had one strong drink per night. This would be the only way to gage the effects of the drinks. The humidity in New Orleans is similar to Houston but the air seemed thicker and the heat made it almost unbearable to drink.
We stayed at the historic Bourbon Orleans hotel located on the corner of Bourbon and Orleans. The first stop for us on our intoxicated adventure led us to Tropical Isle since it was half a block away. While they have a few other drinks they are most notable for their famous Hand Grenades. You can’t walk anywhere along Bourbon St. without seeing someone carrying around the green plastic cup. For $8 you get a souvenir yard cup and a little plastic grenade atop a strong but sweet, yummy concoction that tastes of pineapple and melon liqueur. Right away I fell in love. While the taste of alcohol was faint, it was clear this drink had a punch judging from all the people dancing in the streets, but all I cared about was how delicious it was. The recipe is very secretive and the Hand Grenades can only be found here. No exporting on this fine drink. It really makes a trip to New Orleans all worth it. Once I finished the drink, I didn’t quite feel the buzz but I wasn’t disappointed because it tasted so good. I was so intrigued by the company that I setup an interview with the creator of the Hand Grenade so I could learn more but that’s another article. Right now we’re on a mission to find the hard stuff.
Next, we had to visit one of the most famous places in New Orleans, Pat O’Briens to grab their famous Hurricane. A mix of light and dark rums with fruit juices makes this a strong,cold drink to ward of the summer heat. I was expecting it to be frozen, but on the rocks would work too. This was a strong drink and it wasn't hard to taste the booze. While it was somewhat sweet, the stiff taste of alcohol was always present. At each sip, the alcoholic fumes rose to the nostrils followed by a sweet sticky taste of fruit punch. At $8 I wished it came with some sort of souvenir cup to help me remember what I drank the night before. As I continued to drown my liver, the punch flavor disappeared and all I could taste was watered down alcohol. Not exactly the best taste in the world. Once I finished the Hurricane I felt kinda queasy but it wasn’t from being drunk. Maybe it was from the sugary syrup or that watered down taste. Whatever the reason I wasn’t too thrilled about the Hurricane. I was expecting a drink to blow me away with the force of Katrina. Instead it was a tropical depression on both my buzz and my wallet.
On the last night in New Orleans I was still in search of that strong punch. Many people began to recommend I check out Port of Call. An old steakhouse located on the edge of the French Quarter one block north of Bourbon on Dauphine and Esplanade. Granted it wasn’t on Bourbon St., I was told it was here that I would find that kick I was looking for. Esplanade isn’t one of nicest looking areas but it felt safe. Your about 8 blocks from all the action so it’s in walking distance but on a hot night like this I was getting a cab. Walking into Port of Call, it’s a little different...think Gilligan's Island. It’s a very small place that’s very dim lit and the bar takes up most of the space. They are most known for their burgers and stakes but on this visit were looking for the Holy Grail of drinks to make us regret it in the morning. Neptune’s Monsoon was a big cup of fruit juices and alcohol. When I asked what makes it so strong I was told “It’s only got two liquors and that’s all it needs”. They said Neptune's Monsoon was a last request drink for pirates that were forced to walk the plank. I figured if it was going to be their last drink it must be something to remember. This was a pretty big drink and at $9.50 it also came in a souvenir cup. I was a little nervous to drink this on my own but I'm known to take on a challenge, so I sucked it up and started drinking away. It was so very sweet but not overbearing. It reminded me of a Hurricane but not as overloaded with that stiff alcoholic taste. By the time I reached the middle of the cup I was already starting to feel a little warmth. I needed a little help on this one but I had down most of it on my own. I felt pretty nice as I walked out of the bar. I waited for cab to arrive and I could feel the Monsoon's warm breeze flowing over me. I had to admit I finally caught a buzz. Not only was it strong...it tasted delicious. The punch wasn’t too sweet and the alcohol wasn’t too strong. It was mixed perfectly to make this enjoyable drink. Overall I think this challenge could've ended up different for everyone. It really depends what you’re looking for when you’re looking for the biggest punch on Bourbon St. I admired the Tropical Isle Hand Grenade the most because of the flavor I wouldn’t have minded paying another $8 for seconds. While the Pat O’Briens Hurricane was my least favorite, some people enjoy it. All of the drinks were about the same price and granted not everyone cares for a souvenir cup. I just think it adds into the cost of the product for what you get. I think that the Hurricane has become so hyped up that it’s kind of lost it’s flair along the way. The Port of Call's maybe a dollar more expensive, but I believe it’s a bigger drink and it clearly packing the punch I was looking for. In the end you can choose your beer of choice or sample the many different daiquiris and frozen drinks along Bourbon St. but don’t overdo it. If I really had to choose I would say it’s a toss-up between Tropical Isle & Port of Call but my heart has a passion for the Hand Grenade and its yummy secret recipe. Next time you’re in New Orleans you be the judge.
721 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70116
718 Saint Peter St
New Orleans, LA 70116
Port of Call
838 Esplanade Ave
New Orleans, LA 70116