Quite possibly the city’s most popular late-summer tradition, Whitney White Linen Night attracts thousands of art enthusiasts and fashionistas, decked out in stylish achromatic ensembles. And although the annual art walk offers outdoor food and drink options, nearby restaurants provide a break from the crowds and respite from the sizzling heat. Here is a guide on where to go, and what to order when you get there.
R ock-n-Sake is often bustling with fun-loving sushi fanatics, but the restaurant likely will be busier than usual this Saturday. “We tend to be busy on the weekends, but White Linen Night does pump it up even more,” said manager Tisbee Dantin, noting that they recently renovated the restaurant’s main dining room. “We’ll be pushing for people to come see our new look.”
While you’re there, cool down with a Japanese 75, containing Oryza gin, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and Zipang sparkling sake, served in a sleek Champagne flute and garnished with a delicate lemon twist. The Tokyo-tini is another refreshing treat.
Both beverages pair nicely with the Kale-n-Salmon Sashimi, featuring slivers of salmon sashimi topped with dashi-fried crispy kale, plump orange segments, candied walnuts and a truffle-ponzu and garlic oil. A light summer gazpacho with fresh tuna also will be available.
With its spacious dining room and outdoor patio facing Magazine Street, American Sector is ready to accommodate an ample crowd of art lovers. Cocktails include the Midway Mule — a take on a classic Moscow Mule, made with Stoli vodka, ginger simple syrup, muddled limes and zesty ginger ale, mingling with ice cubes in a shiny copper mug. Sip on this thirst-quenching medley while nibbling on crispy Shrimp Corndogs, served alongside house-made preserves and an Abita Turbo Dog mustard.
Over at Cochon Butcher, enjoy a shareable cheese and charcuterie plate and chilled libations. Matthew Ghabrial, the general manager, recommends the slightly sweet Peach Pit. This snazzy twist on the classic Vesper Martini contains Dorothy Parker gin, Tru vodka and peach-infused Lillet Blanc. Off-the-menu items include red and white sangria, brimming with seasonal stone fruits.
For nourishment right next to the block party, slip into Emeril’s New Orleans for a Citrus Spritz, made with Limoncello, lemon juice and simple syrup, topped with prosecco and a splash of soda. Or, try The Stoner, made with light rum, apricot puree, lavender syrup and lemon juice, topped with soda.
“The apricot and lavender flavors of The Stoner give off fruity and fragrant notes — perfect for summer and for taking a little break from the crowds during White Linen Night,” said Miki Nikolkic, the bar manager at Emeril’s New Orleans. Small bites from the menu include the Back Bacon Sliders on Hawaiian rolls, with blue crab mayo and pineapple chow chow.
In addition to offering traditional mojitos, La Casita on Julia Street will offer a white sangria and Champagne margaritas, made with premium tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, organic agave lime and Champagne. While you’re there, snack on the Cochon de Mexicana taco — a crowd favorite containing slow-roasted Mexican-style pork shoulder, pickled cabbage, avocado and ancho cream, resting on a flour tortilla.
And if you are in the mood for an icy beer, look no further than Wood Pizza Bistro & Taphouse, which offers more than 40 brews on draft. Andrew Pear, the bartender, recommends the Abita Seersucker Pilsner and the Chandeleur Surfside, which contains subtle hints of pineapple. But his favorite brew is the Chafunkta Kingfish, a cream ale that he describes as “a craft beer’s answer to the light lager” and a “gateway beer.”
“This is a good way to get your palate adjusted to more intense stuff,” he said. Sip one of these summertime beers with a beautiful heirloom tomato salad or the Mussels All’ Arrabiata, served with a spicy tomato sauce on seasoned flatbread.
A few blocks down, Root offers a menu that is packed with innovative cocktails and cleverly crafted fare. Wondering where to start?
“You’d always ask what kind of spirit they’ve been enjoying, because people are overindulging on nights like that, so you want (the drink) to blend in,” said general manager Ian Clarke. “I’m definitely a gin fan for warm days. Whiskey is a little too tannin and makes you sweat through your white linen suit.”
For fellow gin drinkers, Clarke recommends the Moneypenny cocktail, prepared with cucumber water, gin, a sweet vermouth and bitters that give it a red glow. The drink pairs well with a Crispy Pig Ear & Warm Giardiniere Salad. He also suggests the Saint Aper’tif, presented in a stylish art deco-style glass.
“Our mantra, as far as the summer cocktails go, is keep it simple,” said Clarke, who anticipates a lively Saturday evening, with patrons dressed to the nines. “White Linen Night has its own pageantry. It’s a lot of fun for us.”