New Orleans in May-June is about as hot as I can stand it. The highs are usually in the late 80s, there’s humidity (which doesn’t surprise anyone) and there are occasional bouts of torrential downpours (which, in keeping with most subtropical climates, only lasts about 15-20 minutes) but it’s nothing like the August heat I keep hearing locals talk about with dread. You can either deal with the heat by hopping from store-to-store, or restaurant-to-restaurant more like, to freeload off of their AC, or you can sit yourself down to a nice cool and refreshing Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House.
Yes, Pimm’s Cups are originally from England and yes, are typically enjoyed courtside at Wimbledon, but New Orleans has a way of taking what's been done before and making it their own. Napoleon House, at the corner of Chartres (pronounced charters) Street and St. Louis Street, has been giving the traditional Pimm’s its own twist since the 1940s. At the risk of sounding cliche, it really is one of the most refreshing, zing-y, and light cocktails you can enjoy.
You can enjoy a Pimm’s at any bar or restaurant in New Orleans, since it’s been adopted by the city, but no one makes it as good as Napoleon House. You're skeptical but I say this with confidence: my boyfriend and I decided we’d try to find the place with the “Best ….” in town. During our 9-day stay we went to a bunch of bars and restaurants hoping to find a comparable Pimm’s but none came as close to the taste and price of Napoleon House. A lot of other places just combine Pimm’s No. 1 with some ginger ale. Where’s the lemonade? The cucumber garnish? What is this??
I will say that Brennan’s Roost Bar makes a great Pimm’s (as well as a great deal of other New Orleans cocktails) but it’s a tad bit more expensive than Napoleon House’s $9. The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone also serves a fairly good Pimm’s which I enjoyed, but Zach thought it was watered down.
I’m pretty sure that if Zach and I were to live in New Orleans, Napoleon House would be our watering hole. We were only there for nine days but after a couple of visits, waiters knew us by name.
On one occasion, one of the waiters (Noah) waved to Zach. He immediately walked over to our table and asked Zach, “Hey, do I know you from somewhere?”. We’d been there so many times that our faces probably entered into his subconscious. Zach laughed and replied, “Yeah, you were our server the first night we arrived in New Orleans and we’ve been here almost every day since.”
If you can’t make it to New Orleans just yet, here’s how you can make your own Napoleon House-style Pimm’s Cup:
1-1/2 ounces Pimm's Cup No. 1
Lemonade made from a frozen mix
Tall thin slice of cucumber
Fill a Tom Collins glass with ice.
Add Pimm's Cup No. 1.
Fill three-fourths of the way with lemonade.
Top off with 7-Up.
Garnish with cucumber slice.