Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. You’d think Louisiana would have a nickname like Party Central or something like that, but it’s actually the Pelican State, with the birds found in droves along the state’s coastline. As the locals say, laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll):
Motto: “Union, justice, confidence” – Sometimes, any three words will do.
Food: Louisianans love food and have introduced the world to a number of dishes. At the top of that list are items such as Jambalaya, Gumbo, Po’boys (a Sip Advisor favourite), Tabasco Sauce, and even the legendary Turducken (a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey).
Drink: Given the state’s party reputation, it should come as no surprise a number of cocktails have been created in Louisiana. The Sazerac, for example, is thought to be among the first cocktails ever made. Also, Southern Comfort was invented by a bartender in New Orleans.
Site to See: Nobody travels to Louisiana without stopping in New Orleans for some French Quarter action. If you happen to visit during Mardi Gras, you’re in for one of the world’s greatest parties. Other attractions worth visiting include various plantations (Oak Alley, Myrtles, Whitney), or taking in a swamp/airboat tour.
Street: Bourbon Street is the most famous of the lanes that make up the French Quarter. The route is lined with bars and strip clubs and fuels the nightly party in the district. Open container laws in the French Quarter allow patrons to drink in public and travel the streets to their heart’s content.
TV Show: True Blood ran for seven seasons and 80 episodes of mythical creature adventures. Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries books by Charlaine Harris, viewers are transported to a world where almost anything is possible and thanks to being broadcasted on HBO, nothing was really off limits in terms of content.
Movie: There’s some great movies set in Louisiana. Chief among them, The Waterboy, starring Adam Sandler as Bobby Boucher, an amateur hydration expert, who has hidden talents on the football field. Disney fans have also been taken to the state through films such as The Rescuers and The Princess and the Frog.
Book/Author: Anne Rice, author of The Vampire Chronicles series, was born in New Orleans. Two of Rice’s novels from The Vampire Chronicles, Interview with the Vampire and The Queen of the Damned, have been adapted into films, while a TV series has been announced as being in development.
Fictional Character: The Ragin’ Cajun, Gambit, is a member of the X-Men, known for his ability to control energy and turn everyday items into weapons. I’m waiting for the day we finally get a Gambit feature film, but it seems to be stuck in development hell, despite the willingness of A-lister Ryan Reynolds to play the character.
Fictional City: Bon Temps, the setting for True Blood, and home to its many memorable characters, is a place one might want to live… at least until crazy stuff starts happening. Despite being inhabited by vampires, werewolves, witches and all other types of predators, you could say the humans of Bon Temps aren’t much better and are actually worse.
Actor/Actress: Reese Witherspoon was born in New Orleans and became an actress as a teenager. Witherspoon’s career has grown to see her be one of the highest paid women in the industry, thanks to starring roles in Legally Blonde and Walk the Line, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar.
Song: Louisiana is the birthplace of jazz music, so I had to pick a tune from that genre for this category. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? originally appeared in the film New Orleans, performed by jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. The track has been covered countless times, including by artists such as Harry Connick Jr. and Jimmy Buffett.
Band/Musician: More on Louis Armstrong, who was born in New Orleans. Satchmo, as he was nicknamed, greatly influenced the style of music that he would become synonymous with, over a 50-year career. New Orleans’ primary airport was renamed in his honour, in 2001. Other accolades included a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, posthumously presented.
People: Popular talk show host and activist for the LGBT community, Ellen DeGeneres, was born in Metairie. DeGeneres has her own lifestyle brand (who doesn’t nowadays) and is one of the highest paid entertainers in the world. Her daytime talk show has been in production since 2003. In 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Animal: My top options for this category were a cat, a peacock and an alligator… all the eclectic variety one would expect from Louisiana. I’m going with the cat because he took up residence at New Orleans bar, Molly’s at the Market, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Wu would even join patrons for a drink, served shot glasses of cream.
Invention: Two of the most popular casino games, Poker and Craps, were invented in Louisiana. While versions of the games had previously existed, they were adapted and became popular once being introduced in the state.
Crime: The Axeman of New Orleans operated between May 1918 and October 1919, killing six people and injuring another six. Never identified, one theory was the slayings were Mafia motivated, as most victims were Italian. The Axeman also wrote a letter at one point, stating they would not attack any home playing jazz music on a particular night. Jazz music filled the city and no murders occurred.
Law: A couple Mardi Gras based laws should be highlighted. It is illegal to throw beads from a third-story window and snakes are not allowed within 200 yards of the parade route. Alligators may be allowed, but they are not to be tethered to a fire hydrant.
Sports Team: New Orleans is home to two Big 4 sports franchises, with the Saints (NFL) and Pelicans (NBA). The Saints won the 2009 Super Bowl, uniting the city after the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina. The Pelicans (formerly Hornets) were relocated from Charlotte, North Carolina for the 2002-03 season.
Athlete: Brothers Peyton and Eli Manning were born in New Orleans, while their father Archie (also a quarterback) played for the NFL’s Saints. Both Peyton and Eli were drafted first overall before going on to win two Super Bowls each. Other notable hall of famers from Louisiana, in their respective sports, include Terry Bradshaw, Bill Russell, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler and Marshall Faulk.
Famous Home: LaLaurie Mansion, in New Orleans, is where Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a member of high society, tortured and murdered slaves. Her crimes were discovered following a fire at the home, which was then destroyed by an angry mob. LaLaurie escaped to France, while the mansion was rebuilt and owned by actor Nicholas Cage for a brief time. Today, tours will take you to the home, but visitors are not allowed inside.
Urban Legend: Voodoo is so prominent in the state, the practice of it is commonly known as Louisiana Voodoo. Acts include the use of potions and Voodoo dolls, among other techniques. Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, is still quite popular among followers, despite dying in 1881. Ghostly sightings of Laveau have been reported and according to lore, marking her grave with an ‘x’ and doing a few other actions, may end up with a wish being granted.
Museum: The Cabildo, in New Orleans, is now home to the Louisiana State Museum, but it played quite the role in the history of the state and country. It was the site of the Louisiana Purchase pact, which doubled the size of the U.S. For $15 million, or $18 per square mile, France sold America land which now comprises parts of 15 states and even two Canadian provinces.
Firsts: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. was Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove, in Delta), whose wealth was earned through her line of cosmetics and hair care products. When Walker died in 1919, she was considered the richest African-American woman in the country.
Company: Two popular fast food chicken restaurants can trace their origins back to Louisiana. Popeyes was founded in the state in New Orleans, in 1972, although it’s now headquartered in Miami, Florida. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers first operated in Baton Rouge, in 1996, where it is still based.
Events: Hurricane Katrina was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded, with its epicenter being New Orleans. It was the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, causing an estimated $161 billion in damages. The human toll was worse, with 1,833 recorded deaths from the hurricane and ensuing floods.
Miscellaneous: The Sip Advisor’s favourite area at Disneyland is New Orleans Square. Rides like The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean form the basis for this affection, while restaurants serving up southern fare and bands playing jazz numbers complete the departure to another world.
New Orleans Fizz
- 1.5 oz Gin
- Splash of Lime Juice
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- Splash of Cream
- Dash of Simple Syrup
- Dash of Orange Bitters
- 1 Egg White
- 2 Drops of Vanilla Extract
- Top with Club Soda
Also known as the Ramos Gin Fizz, this drink was invented by Henry C. Ramos at his bar, the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, in New Orleans. Despite the cocktail’s long preparation time, its popularity grew when Louisiana Governor, Huey Long, acquired a taste for it and had a bartender travel from New Orleans to New York, to teach bartenders there how to make it.