Thursday, August 6, 2015

Round and round she goes


The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone is a modern-day landmark.  It's not often you can sit beneath the canopy of a circus merry-go-round, sipping a cocktail while rotating slowly around the room.

It's been around since 1949, in this elegant hotel on Royal Street in the French Quarter. It's said to have been a hang-out for many literary lights of the South, including Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty and Richard Ford.

The room itself has hosted jazz greats, like Louis Prima, in the adjacent lounge.

We snagged a pair of barstools, upholstered in tapestry that depicted tigers and lions in a jungle setting. I ordered a Pimm's cup, and he ordered a Vieux Carre, a cocktail invented at this bar back in 1938.

Pimm's Cup
My Pimm's cup was the hotel's version of this ubiquitous New Orleans summer drink. Fill a highball glass with ice, and then fill with Pimm’s No. 1 (a mix of gin and special herbs and spices), Sprite or 7-UP, fresh lemon juice to taste. It was garnished with slices of cucumber and strawberries.

A Vieux Carre is 1/2 teaspoon Benedictine, dash Peychaud, dash Angostura, 1/3 shot each rye whiskey, cognac and dry vermouth. Shake and serve on the rocks with a twist of lemon.

As we sat, we could feel the bar rotating slowly, with small, almost imperceptible lurches. The bar makes a full circle every fifteen minutes.

It was a little unnerving. You can see how it might affect one's perception, especially after a couple of cocktails. At one point, [The Man I Love], stood up to take a photo, and then looked at me, wondering why I seemed to be nudging him. No, he was on the stationary floor, and I was slowly rotating clockwise into him, seated at my barstool.

There were two bartenders, and after they took our drink orders, we watched them slowly rotate away from us, as the floor behind the bar did not move. It was a marvel, watching them work while the bar implements slipped out of their grasp, dumping ice into a sink that rolled smoothly out of reach, waiting for the seltzer hose to come back around. They looked as thought they'd adapted to it, but then, I realized there was no cut in the bar. "How do they get in and out?" I whispered to [The Man I Love]?

On the second pass around the room, I got the answer to my question. One of the bartenders hiked up to sit on the zinc counter, lifted his knees into his body compactly as he spun around to lower his feet on the outside. It was so smoothly done hardly anyone noticed.

"You have to be in shape to work here," said [The Man I Love]. "I'm not sure I would make the cut."

[The Man I Love] took part in another New Orleans tradition, having a trim and a shave at the Hotel Monteleone barbershop. Doesn't he look fine?


Anonymous said...

Yay! The first time I had a drink there, I thought I was an easy drunk - it was such a relief to find out the damn bar moves. (naomi)

Ellen Bloom said...

I LOVE that bar! The Lobby is beautiful too. You're really experiencing the BEST of your new City. I love exploring online with you!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

That sounds much more dizzying that eating a meal in the Space Needle restaurant.