With summer officially in full swing, the last thing on anyone's mind is a piping-hot bowl of gumbo. We want dishes that are light and cooling, lower-proof cocktails that won't leave us sluggish, and teas and coffees that are iced, but still give us a spring in our step.
Here, a list of icy drinks, cooling dishes and sweet treats to help beat those dog days of summer.
Raw, cured & chilled
It's hard to go wrong with a raw bar when the temperature soars and, with the abundance of fresh Gulf seafood available, there's lots to choose from in town.
At the newly opened Chais Delachaise (7708 Maple St., 504-510-4509; www.chaisdelachaise.com), chef Daniel Volponi features an international bistro-style menu heavy with raw and cured seafood dishes, including a rotating daily selection of sashimi, ceviche and poisson cru. A Nordic-leaning juniper and citrus-cured steelhead trout is served with caraway crackers, pickled fennel and fermented mustard seed. A Peruvian-inspired cobia tiradito arrives in a marigold-hued aji amarillo lime broth and features celery seed, fresh cumin and puffed quinoa.
At Uptown bourbon hub Kenton's (5757 Magazine St., 504-891-1177; www.kentonsrestaurant.com), a selection of Murder Point and Area 9 oysters is rounded out with several raw bar preparations including a red snapper tartare served with fresh horseradish and lemon. There's also a dish of raw amberjack that gets sliced thinly and paired with cantaloupe, jalapeno and cilantro.
In the French Quarter, the new Decatur Street restaurant Trinity (1117 Decatur St., 504-325-5789; www.trinityrestaurantneworleans.com) serves several types of raw oysters as well as cold, smoked bivalves nestling deviled eggs with horseradish. Chef Michael Isolani fashions thin slices of smoked salmon into the shape of a rose bud, and the silky fish sidles a cooling salad of raw shoestring strips of zucchini dressed with a lemony Parmesan and dill dressing.
A longtime mainstay on the Bourbon House (144 Bourbon St., 504-522-0111; www.bourbonhouse.com) menu, the chilled cucumber and crab salad arrives chock-full of lump crabmeat and crunchy marinated spears of cucumber. Tossed with green onions and dressed in a light sesame dressing, it's the perfect cooling alternative to more traditional raw seafood options.
For a traditional gazpacho, look no further than Esplanade Avenue's Spanish darling Lola's (3312 Esplanade Ave., 504-488-6946; www.lolasneworleans.com), where the classic combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and garlic is pureed and served drizzled with olive oil and garnished with finely diced vegetables. The restaurant also serves ajoblanco, the cold and creamy almond soup of Andalusia. The silky soup is served icy cold, thickened with bread and garnished with grapes. At Carrollton Market (8132 Hampson St., 504-252-9928; www.carrolltonmarket.com) in Riverbend, chef Jason Goodenough steps up his gazpacho game by combining fresh, local tomatoes with lump crabmeat, watermelon and cilantro. At the chic Salon by Sucre (622 Conti St., 504-267-7098; www.restaurantsalon.com) in the French Quarter, new summer additions include a chilled summer pea soup topped with fresh mint cream and a lemon oil.
Summer Ready Drinks
It's no secret that frozen drinks are all the rage this summer. Joining the lot is the frozen negroni at Cafe Henri (800 Louisa St., 504-302-2357; www.henri.cafe), the new restaurant in the former Booty's Street Food space from the Cure team. The slushy tangerine-hued drink is modeled after the classic cocktail, made with Peychaud's Apertivo, Campari, gin, Italian vermouth and just a touch of sugar.
"A negroni is a classic cocktail, akin to the Manhattan, the martini or the old fashioned," partner Kirk Estopinal says. "We like that it is unexpected as a daiquiri because it isn't cream based or acidic in any way, which is typically the formula for frozen drinks."
At Bar Frances (4245 Freret St., 504-371-5043; www.barfrances.com), the new wine bar and bistro from P.J. Rosenberg and Mark Latter, there's a selection of lower-proof cocktails available by the carafe and glass.
"These are beautiful, light, easy to drink and refreshing," says Rosenberg, adding that imbibing drinks with low alcohol content "just makes you feel different."
"We want people to be able to work their way up."
Currently featured carafe cocktails include the Rebujito, made with manzanilla sherry, soda water, simple syrup and lemon juice. The Tinto de Verano features red wine, soda water, simple syrup and orange.
For a non-alcoholic pick-me-up, there's the stronger-than-jet-fuel iced Oji drip coffee at French Truck Cafe (4536 Dryades St., 504-702-1900; www.frenchtruckcoffee.com), which the baristas brew overnight using a variety of single-origin coffees. For those looking for a lighter buzz, there's a selection of iced teas that can be ordered still or sparkling, including the Blue Eyes — a light and refreshing fuchsia-hued hibiscus-based fruit tea.
At Stumptown Coffee Roasters inside the Ace Hotel (610 Carondelet St., 504-900-1180; www.acehotel.com/neworleans), the citrusy Duane Sorenson references the coffee company's founder and mimics a classic Arnold Palmer. There's also a selection of refrigerated cold-brew coffee that's bottled and ready to go.
At the longstanding Hansen's Sno-Bliz (4801 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-891-9788; www.snobliz.com), now in its 77th season, old-school favorites like cream of blueberry and the ice cream-filled Sr. Atomic are constantly being supplanted with new additions, including a cooling cucumber syrup version and the Cafe Sno-Lait, the shop's take on Vietnamese iced coffee, made with cold-brewed French Market coffee and chicory, and sweetened with condensed milk.
At both the Prytania Street and Lakeview Creole Creamery (www.creolecreamery.com) locations, there are always new varieties being added to the mix of creative and unorthodox ice cream flavors. Uptown (4924 Prytania St., 504-894-8680), the Green Fairy combines absinthe-flavored ice cream, dark chocolate and candied orange peel. At the Lakeview shop (6260 Vicksburg St., 504-482-2924), a Magnolia version flavored with essential oils mimics the local flower while the Champagne and violet flavor features champagne ice cream with lemon zest and candied violet petals.