CELLAR DOOR NEW ORLEANS

The sign announcing Cellar Door doesn’t point to a door but rather a narrow walkway. That unassuming entrance is only one element of what makes this little jewel box so appealing. Cellar Door is housed in one of the oldest buildings in the city on this side of Canal Street. Set on Lafayette, a street stretching only a few blocks with no parking, it was once the site of a bordello. An element of that coy, hidden charm remains. Step into the space. Head left to the small bar. Or, turn right and settle onto a settee under a massive chandelier dripping crystals lifted straight from Storyville. The old New Orleans brick contrasts with modern art, including pieces by Jamie Reid, whose work graced Sex Pistols albums. The juxtaposition of old and new defines the bar, including its drinks menu, which has separate lists of both classics and some newer inventions like A Day at the Races, which balanced the sweetness of a Mint Julep with creme de cassis and lemon. Their happy hour is robust and deep: good snacks and $6 classics like an Old Fashioned or Daiquiri. Cellar Door’s owners feel that “it is possible to be progressive and forward thinking, without compromising the cultural integrity of one’s historic surroundings.” A great concept for a new kind of bar, in downtown’s oldest building.

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