Barrel Proof is a rustic bar embraces classic and traditional drinking. They serve up a wide array of cold beer, bold whiskey, and bespoke cocktails. This New Orleans roadhouse rides a fine line between cocktail haven and dive bar — and we love it.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Ryan Kirk Contributing writer
If Barrel Proof were a gentleman, we could argue that he is facing an identity crisis. A complex of sorts: one person in the daytime, another at night. It’s all handshakes and smiles during the day, but when the evening rolls in and the sun fades, he becomes a lively shadow, bouncing off the walls to the sounds of loud music. Morning breaks, and he’s back to being a sophisticated gentleman once more, but always dreaming of the next night to come. Fortunately, the soul of Barrel Proof is designed to weather the conditions of such a jam and embraces the quandary of a split personality.
Their house bourbon is Kentucky’s Old Grand-Dad Bonded. It’ll put some hair on your chest and make you understand where the term “old man strength” originated from.
Let’s start on the outside and work our way in. It opens at 4 p.m. every day, so there’s a good chance you’ll make it in early enough to catch the sun beating off its tin walls. The location was originally a house, making Barrel Proof the perfect watering hole for the neighborhood of the Lower Garden District. When nighttime rolls around, the lantern lights shine, reflecting off the metal exterior and giving it the feels of an old roadhouse. It’s not quaint, it’s rough. But when coming in to throw back some booze, who needs charming?
If you come in early enough, you’ll meet their first personality: a whiskey bar with over 250 different varieties. It’s a menu that is constantly changing but always keeps a fantastic draw of American-made bourbons and ryes, Japanese whiskies, and of course some Scottish and Irish choice favorites. Their house bourbon is Kentucky’s Old Grand-Dad Bonded. It’ll put some hair on your chest and make you understand where the term “old man strength” originated from.
If you’re looking for something that isn’t straight up, the guys behind the bar are all cocktail gurus. They treat bartending like an art and can easily paint you up a pretty-looking little cocktail. We recommend the Topo Chino – bourbon, cold brew, vanilla, walnut, and soda. When the sun starts to creep down and the bar starts acting a little different, we suggest you roll with the punches. The menu has some options to match a beer with a shot. We took full advantage with a pull from a bottle of chartreuse, a Topo Chico and a local beer – but brace yourself, because this night, it might punch back.
As the moon makes its full appearance and the sun is all but a memory, the dimly lit bar will take new form. With lights hanging down from a wood-panel ceiling, the rustic metal walls expose themselves as a dance floor for the shadows bouncing around the room. While the cocktails and limited-selection whiskey aren’t going anywhere, the bar transforms into a party. – It’s beers, shots, loud music, and the nocturnal risks that come barreling in with them.
Barrel Proof sits proudly on top of a fence built in New Orleans’s playground. One leg on the party side, swinging all night, taking warm shots of tequila and washing them down with a PBR. The other leg, neatly crossed over, sipping on Glenlivet or enjoying a bold glass of Nikka’s coffee grain whisky. Barrel Proof is a bar, not a gentleman, and for our sakes, we hope they never choose just a single side of the coin. The multiple-personality disorder, it’s working. Party on, boys.
This is the type of rodehouse that makes you want to post up at the bar and dive into a convo with your bartender
The bar changes with the coming and passing of the sun. Come in early, stay late, and watch the bar TRANSFORM
The menu has several specials to match a beer with a shot. We were all over this. Oh, chartreuse…