Beads and Beer: Recycling in NOLA

The shrine to Abita that I had in my DC apartment.

This May, recycling finally returned to post-Katrina New Orleans. You can recycle paper, plastic, metals and cardboard. But not glass.* Recycling is costly, and glass hasn’t proven economically viable. It’s hard not to cringe when contemplating all the glass that must be thrown out around here, considering how much alcohol is consumed in this city. Abita, a local brewery (and by far the most pervasive beer in the city), comes exclusively in glass bottles.

The sublease I’m staying at until August cannot accommodate recycling; the subleaser says that the city has strange rules about condominium recycling. Accordingly, my boyfriend and I have been dropping off our recycling at Whole Foods. On our first trip there we discovered a bin for recycling Mardi Gras beads. This seems very New Orleanian. The city doesn’t provide a service found in most metropolitan areas, but understands the necessity to wash and resell the bartering commodity of Mardi Gras. It’s these little aspects of the city that make me roll my eyes… and then smile. It’s a backwards place, but there is charm in the aspects of the life only found here.

NOLA Brewing
There are some local companies that are thinking smart about recycling. NOLA Brewery recently announced that it will begin selling its beer in cans! On Friday, we went to the NOLA brewery for their weekly tour and our tour guide said the company purposefully chose cans because they can be recycled in the city. He acknowledged that people look down upon canned beer, but advised that all beer (whether from a glass or bottle) tastes best when poured into a pint. The beer cans should be on shelves around the city in the 4-6 months.

The taps at the NOLA brewery

In a city where Abita is king, NOLA Brewery has already made their presence known. They started in 2009 with two brews, NOLA Blonde and NOLA Brown, and have added two more year-round brews and four seasonals. Many of these beers are available in bars and restaurants throughout the city. Our tour guide  said that the company hopes to saturate the local and regional markets before they can begin to establish a national presence.

Although I love those Abita bottles (see: shrine picture above), maybe I’ll switch to Abita on tap.

*You can drop off your glass for recycling at Target and at NOLA Glass.


Lagniappe: Beeracuda

A few weeks ago I bumped into my friend in the French Quarter. He was wearing what seemed to be a yoga bag, but considering my knowledge of this friend and the fact that we were at the the Louisiana Seafood Festival/Creole Tomato Festival/Zydeco Music Festival, I knew this couldn’t be right.

Turns out that he was sporting a beeracuda, an insulated bag that holds beer. As previously mentioned, New Orleanians come prepared to outside festivals. They’re ready to drink and keep said drinks cool.

I would have never thought such a thing existed. What an amazing invention.
And that it was a Saints beeracuda?
The most New Orleanian of all.

Previously in Lagniappe: Mardi Gras Float Storage

I was Unprepared for This: The 610 Stompers

New Orleans, I’ve forgotten you. I’ve forgotten that any time there is outdoor drinking, one must bring a beer koozie. I’ve also forgotten that if an adult gathering calls for its participants to dress up, you’re a fool if you arrive in everyday wear. Most of all I have forgotten how crazy and creative your citizens are, forming clubs and krewes such as the 610 Stompers.

The two on the right are actual “610 Stompers.”

This Saturday I went on the 610 Stompers Midcity Bar Crawl. The Stompers were started by a group of men who sit in the 610 section of the Superdome for Saints games. They wanted to participate in Muses, which is the only all-female Mardi Gras parade. The men formed a dance troop themed around 80s and 90s music and mustaches, auditioned for Muses, got in and have since become somewhat of a sensation around the city. This November they’re going to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Crowd outside Crescent Pie, the second stop on the 610 Stompers Bars Crawl

On Saturday hundreds of people turned up to drink at five different bars in the MidCity neighborhood of New Orleans. The Stompers marched the crowds to each location, performing their dances along the way. This was a well-organized event. New Orleanians take their partying seriously. There was a mustache contest, contest for the best 80s costume and a dance off. The NOPD were supervising the event and one office was even asked to participate in the mustache contest.

Despite the fact that it’s an all-male group, the Stompers have a group of women who support them. These women, dressed in pink tank tops are in charge of crowd control during parades. There was also another group of girls who seemed to be on-day support, dressed in powder-blue tops and red tutus.

The 610 Stompers and accompanying ladyfriends always stopped to treat curious bystandards to a liquid concotion that you could bet was alcoholic.

I was in awe of the subculture the Stompers created. Anywhere else this would be ridiculous, but here the joy, fun and enthusiasm is too much to resist. I’m proud to live in a city where groups like this are the norm.

The winner of the 610 Stompers 2011 Bar Crawl mustache contest.

I also realized it’s time to start me a costume box for such occasions. I’ll have to make trips to second-hand stores and post my findings on the blog. You won’t catch me uncostumed again.

The remains of the day, from a porta potty near the end of the night.

Keeping Up with the New Orleanians

I’ve never been much of a drinker. I enjoy wine and beer, but 3-4 drinks of any kind send me looking for a bed. In college, I was always relieved when 2 a.m. rolled around and the bars closed. If you were tired, you could go home and you didn’t look like a loser.

My utilitarian drinking style was put to shame the first time I went out with a New Orleanian in New Orleans, back in 2004. We were out dancing, and I was ready to split at 2 a.m. But the bar didn’t close at 2. Or at 3. I realized we could be out all night. I couldn’t say anything because then I’d be a loser.

Les Bon Temps. It is open now.

Cut to 2010.

After unloading our car last Monday night, my boyfriend and I decided to toast our new city at Les Bon Temps, a very famous New Orleans bar right across the street from our house. “We should become regulars here!” he declared as we walked over.

But I forgot what I was dealing with. This is New Orleans. A Les Bon Temps regular introduced himself to us and explained his relationship to the bar.  He lives in another part of town, so usually three times a week he drives over to Les Bon Temps and takes a cab home. He’ll drink for a few hours there some nights, leave, and then come back.  Bartenders regular reduce his all-night drinking tab to $4.  The only downside about Le Bon Temps? “The bar is only open until 4 on the weekdays,” he explained.

Only open until 4 a.m.? My boyfriend and I exchanged a look.

Two drinks later, suitably giggly and  tired, we both wanted to go home. “But what’s he going to say?” I whispered across the table, nodding my head in the direction of the regular, who was now playing pool. “We’ll remind him we drove 8 hours today and moved our stuff into a new place,” my boyfriend said. I felt like a moron. Here I was, worrying that this guy I met 45 minutes earlier was going to judge me for being unwilling to stay out.

He was on the phone when we left. Relieved, I waved and skipped away, as if to imply that I was just off to another bar to keep the party going. I just hope he couldn’t see us going into our house across the street.

Today my boyfriend and I are going to the 610 Stompers Bar Crawl. My goal is to make it until the end, which is 8 pm. There’s an after party that goes until 10 p.m., which I suspect is not true.

It’s not that I want to become a drunk. It’s just that I want to be a part of the community. And to the community, it’s no big deal to stay out until 4 a.m. drinking. And to that, I say “Cheers!”

Wish me luck.