A short walk from New Orleans’ French Quarter and on the ground floor of the upscale Hotel Fontenot you’ll find the Peacock Room, which has been serving upscale cocktails — no TVs, even when the Saints are playing — to thirsty locals and visitors alike. On a recent trip — during the first chill of fall to hit the city — we were hosted by the bar to run through the highlights of their cocktail menu, which stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the most inventive and craft-focused in the city.
Let’s start with some of Peacock’s originals which include the “layup” Flock to Me, made from Grey Goose Watermelon Basil, pressed honeydew juice, falernum, lemon, and pea flower tincture, which gives the cocktail a truly unique color — blue on the bottom, purple on top. It looks like Mardi Gras and tastes like honeydew candy, though the bar staff take great pains to ensure consistency, adding sugar as needed to even out the sweetness of each batch of house-made honeydew. While this cocktail was a slurp-’em-down crowd pleaser, it was a bit sweet for my taste.
My favorite house cocktail was the Herbal Virtue, made from Dickel rye, Atxa Pacharan (a sloeberry liqueur), and Boomsma Cloosterbitter, which is something of a Chartreuse substitute. Take an Old Fashioned and give it a spicy, fruity kick and you’ve got this immediate hit, which segues from its herbal and whiskey-forward elements to a curious coconut note on the end.
The El Pavo Real — Herradura blanco, ancho chili, hibiscus, and pomegranate — would have felt better on a warmer day, its heavy chili note at first a bit disarming. As the ice melts, the cocktail evolves beautifully, letting the pomegranate do more of the heavy lifting.
Like any good NOLA bar, Peacock Room also offers some local classics, including a Sazerac and a high-end Hurricane made with Brugal Anejo rum, Hamilton 151, and real passionfruit and lemon juices. I loved this version of the cocktail, particularly the presentation, complete with a hurricane-destroyed paper umbrella. We closed things out with the Layover in Glasgow, which is Peacock’s riff on a Paper Plane, adding Earl Grey and grapefruit to the recipe (in lieu of lemon), which brightens things up nicely. The tea notes are incredibly clear — and a worthy addition to the drink.
Service at the Peacock Room is quick and efficient, in part because the bar focuses on draft and batched cocktails in order to improve consistency. The pains taken to get recipes perfect are easier to do when you’ve making them a gallon at a time — but taste-corrected and adjusted down to the drop. The room’s decor is elegant — this used to be the hotel’s indoor pool — complete with stuffed peacocks that, we’re told, are perfect for selfies whether or not you happen to be at a bachelorette party.
501 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans