In August: White Linen Night
I was intrigued the minute I read about this event that traditionally takes place the first Saturday night in August. This year it’s on the 4th and promises to be as much fun as ever.
But first things first: let’s take a close look at the weather. August in New Orleans is hot. The temperature ranges between 76 and 92 F with nights between June and September around 70 degrees. Now, all the pundits say that the best time to visit the Big Easy is from February to May when the weather is great and the celebrations are in full swing.
In theory this sounds great, but “real life” is a different matter because many families have two employed adults working at full-time jobs and kids in school. Come August, a number of companies slow down and the children are on summer break. Ergo: this makes for a great travel month, (the airlines report that July is the busiest travel month of the entire year in the US so August is probably right up there, too).
A QUICK LOOK BACK
Linen was used for clothing in Ireland in the 16th century but this changed in the 18th when the cotton plantations in America’s south came on the scene and flourished. In New Orleans and most of the south, wearing white started with Easter and ended at Labor Day. I recently saw a photo of best-selling author, Tom Wolfe, a true Southern gentleman, who adopted the white suit as his trademark back in 1962 and, yes, he’s still wearing his summer whites. Note: Tom Wolfe died on May 14, 2018.
WHITE FOR BOTH SEXES
The color white reflects, rather than absorbs the sun’s heat. That’s the main reason why men wore white suits and women donned white dresses. Now, this tradition is revisited every summer in the Warehouse Arts District. The event is free and has been described as more of a block party (on Julia Street) than a festival.
It’s also a fund-raiser where the Whitney Bank partners with the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) to raise funds for their programs. This event is chic and stylish. It offers a number of galleries showcasing the work of local artists in a four-hour period (5:30 to 9:30 pm) with a dress code that’s definitely the most basic you’ll ever experience – all-white.
WHAT TO DRINK IN NEW ORLEANS
The most popular drink in New Orleans – I see it everywhere – is the Sazerac which is New Orleans’ version of the classic whiskey cocktail (whiskey, water, bitters and sugar). And going one better, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill in 2008 naming the Sazerac the official state cocktail. In the 1830s, a pharmacist who owned an apothecary on Royal Street, created this classic cocktail.
Next is the Ramos Gin Fizz that is also very popular in San Francisco. I know this because I used to order it when I lived there. Henry Ramos created this drink in 1888 and named it after himself. It’s a tricky cocktail to make because it requires a well-beaten egg white. Bartenders believe the drink requires extra time and effort. That’s probably why I’ve never seen it in New York where everything is based on speed.
At the Sazerac Bar, which has an elegant old-world vibe, and is located in the Grand Roosevelt Hotel, roughly 20,000 Ramos Gin Fizzes are sipped every year. Like I’ve always said, it’s a great drink.
UPDATE: On Monday, July 23rd, I was watching “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” at 10 pm in New York when a piece about the Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans and their superb peach cobbler flashed on the screen. There was 95-year-old Leah Chase in the kitchen doing her thing. She was married for 70 years to Dooky and has 16 grandchildren – all of whom have college degrees. CLICK HERE to read more about this great spot.