Yes, you can still get a drink in New Orleans – Sep 5, 2005
Posted On September 7, 2005
(In the midst of chaos, one can sometimes find order. Constants exist everywhere…cd)
Dinia Straydog has a cigar Saturday at a bar on Bourbon Street, as another patron finishes off a drink.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (Reuters) — At least two bars in New Orleans’ fabled French Quarter are honoring the tradition that drinking establishments in the boisterous tourist district stay open during hurricanes, even apocalyptic monsters like Hurricane Katrina.
Molly’s at the Market shut down the evening of August 28 as Katrina bore down on New Orleans. The storm struck the city with damaging winds that night, then floodwaters began to seep in through levee breaches on the north end of town the next day.
Except for wind damage, the Quarter stayed high and dry and so did Molly’s and Johnny White’s. And both were back in business Monday, August 29, with little apparent damage despite a lack of electricity and running water.
“That’s our job. That’s just what we do,” Molly’s owner Jim Monaghan, 47, said.
Molly’s somehow managed to serve iced drinks Sunday to a mixed crowd of die-hard locals, visiting authorities and the media gaggle. Monaghan wouldn’t say where he got the ice, and any inquisitors didn’t much care.
“This is gold,” said Sonny Fyler, 45, a builder who chatted over a well-iced vodka and cranberry cocktail. “This is definitely gold. I’m coming in here every day.” (See a report on how New Orleans residents vow to party and survive — 2:12)
While Molly’s stays open only during daylight hours and caters to a varied clientele, the customers at Johnny White’s were different. A late-night visit found a group of dedicated, mostly intoxicated, locals who drank uncooled cocktails by candlelight in the bar at the corner of Orleans and Bourbon in the heart of the Quarter.
The open-air joint has no doors, so the proprietors decided to hang on for as long as possible.
New Orleans police, normally ambivalent about the public drunkenness that occurs most nights throughout the district, seemed strangely intolerant of it over the weekend even as it seemed they had bigger problems at hand, such as mass deaths and destruction throughout the region.
“We have a makeshift jail. You cross this line, and we’ll take your ass there,” a policeman, drawing an imaginary line at the doorway, screamed at a drunken middle-aged woman who had stumbled out the door momentarily.
A few minutes later, the woman collapsed to the floor in an alcoholic stupor.
If he can give folks, whether they’re locals or visitors, a short respite from the despair gripping New Orleans, Monaghan said his bar on Decatur Street on the Quarter’s edge is doing a public service.
“I believe this city is coming back,” he said. “I wouldn’t have stayed open if I didn’t think that.”