The dust has barely had time to settle on the newest addition to the city’s expanding boutique hotel scene, the Troubadour.
Nevertheless, with three distinct bar spaces and a diverse cocktail menu, the Troubadour is worth a look for anyone who appreciates a well-considered drink.
Rising just a few blocks from City Hall, at the corner of Gravier and South Rampart, the Troubadour’s location is set apart from the CBD’s established cultural arteries.
It’s a section that until a few years ago felt a bit forgotten, a too-quiet, corporate no-man’s land. In fact, the Troubadour’s building, a LEGO-style midrise, will probably strike most as decidedly 9-to-5.
But this quadrant of the city is seeing tremendous growth, and a quick hoof to the surrounding blocks reveals the telltale signs of renovations: Dumpsters.
The Troubadour is within easy striking distance of new condominium developments and recent chic cafes and restaurants like Willa Jean, Merchant and the intimate and sensual Sea Worthy, as well as eye candy venues like the Roosevelt and the Ace Hotels and the long-ago brothel, now a craft bar, Cellar Door.
The result is that a neighborhood that in recent years would have emptied out come Friday sunset is holding its own as a night and weekend destination. And not only for hotel guests but locals as well with a choice of multiple bars, none of which feels like one-size-fits-all, Anywhere, U.S.A., lounge but that attempt to bear some connection to the city.
Hotels now make a point of offering classically inspired cocktails that reflect hometown flavors and whose spirits, like New Orleans Rum or Atelier de Vie’s absinthe and gin, often line their shelves.
Indeed a quick look into the front doors of the Ace, the Troubadour or the W in the Quarter reveal a trend in square footage: sacrificing the grand lobby effect in favor of more bar space.
In a city of gems, the Troubadour’s bars aren’t architectural standouts, but the hotel does offer three distinct spots for drinks and nibbles: the ground floor Petit Lion, the second-floor Lounge and the rooftop Monkey Board, each with its own particular angle.
All three feature a different selection of cheekily named cocktails developed by local T. Cole Newton, whose bar, Twelve Mile Limit, draws a devoted following for its creative, affordable combinations.
And while at an even $10 across the board, the Troubadour’s prices are higher than the popular Mid-City corner bar, the Troubadour remains a couple bucks less than many upscale spots.
Of the three spaces, the Petit Lion offers the most conventional experience. With a semi-circular bar, clean lines and spare furnishings, the aesthetic is clearly contemporary; aptly named, the modest size lends itself to a happy hour round or before dinner drinks for the solo drinker, a couple or a few friends.
Here, cocktails draw on classics but with unexpected twists and ingredients, like the Figue 75 that resembles a champagne and cognac-based French 75 but with the addition of fig syrup, or the Gentlemen in Question, a gin and vermouth martini that follows the path not taken with the addition of kirschwasser (cherry brandy) and orange flower water.
As with the Troubadour’s other drink menus, The Petit Lion’s cocktails are well considered and present a fairly wide palette: salty, sweet, fruity, tart.
Another smooth contender is the highly sippable Devil May Care mixed from Grand Marnier, crème de mûres (from blackberries), orange bitters and lemon. Simply put, these are clever, good drinks.
One flight of stairs above, The Lounge offers plush sofas and punch bowls for up to six and cocktails named after singular pop hits from the 1960s, such as “Hang On Sloopy,” and for better or worse, “Let It All Hang Out.”
On high is the Monkey Board, and while the Troubadour’s rooftop experience doesn’t include a pool, the view is fairly expansive and the deck boasts live music and DJs.
Here cocktails exude a Latin streetsmart vibe; a curated beer list and a limited selection of wine are also available at all three bar spaces.
Note: the Troubadour is not a wine-lover's paradise, though slightly more options are to be found on the ground floor Petit Lion and the second floor Lounge.
The Troubadour Hotel
1111 Gravier St.