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Central City Oasis

Learn About New Tiki Bar, Portside Lounge

Stepping inside from the afternoon’s searing lime white sun, it took a moment of adjustment to fully take in the impressively subtle tiki decor and turquoise colors of Portside Lounge, Central City’s newest neighborhood spot nestled a few lakeside blocks from the St. Charles streetcar line. Yet after taking a seat at the bar with owner Danny Nick and head bartender Rachel Rose, everything came into full view.


A large, mellow, flowing two-room bar with uniquely intricate lighting fixtures, porcelain tiki statues adorning handmade bamboo shelves behind the bar, and local art along the walls all helped pull together the idea of Portside being a tiki dive bar. 


“We’re trying to find the middle ground right now,” Danny tells me while citing a spectrum of influences which brought the project into existence, most notably Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry of Latitude 29 in the French Quarter.


“People forget New Orleans is considered to be the northern most city in the Caribbean, and you have to think that a hundred years ago, people were enjoying these style drinks, so why wouldn’t they now?” 


And Danny’s right. The modern resurgence of tiki in the cocktail world can be seen on a national level, but Portside Lounge’s down home approach helps tie in that authentic, almost natural, New Orleans-Caribbean vibe.


Missing are the exotically expensive liquor lists, the pretentious cocktail presentations, a staff donning Hawaiian print shirts. Present instead are numerous locally produced liquors such as Rougaroux Rum, Euphrosyne Gin and St. Roch Vodka, accessible prices and perfectly tiki-tacky decorations acquired from the late English Craig of Freaky Tiki Tattoos. And tucked out of sight off the bar’s side room sits a kitchen where a full line of pop-ups from the likes of The Ball Brothers and Joie de Vie are slated to take over in the coming months.


Everything may be in it’s right place after a grueling three month renovation, but Portside Lounge remains a work in progress. There’s a palpable enthusiasm concerning plans for farther down the road. Danny, a member of the local metal band Suplecs, discusses ideas of live music from the modest stage in the main room, while Rachel plays with cocktail recipes like the Nani Pua, composed of kiwi cucumber gin & fresh squeezed citrus.


“We’ll always have the mainstays behind the bar,” she says, mentioning service industry favorites like Fernet Branca and Budweiser being served next to the Gin Moon Joe, a gin and basil based cocktail. Additionally, over a dozen beers will be offered on tap, for any patron afraid of getting freaky deaky with the tiki.


Daily punches, a punk rock happy hour, cocktail collaborations, and even more decor from Danny’s home tiki collection are all in order once the ball starts rolling after the grand opening party on Saturday, May 20th, when local chef Miso Hungry will be slinging tasty Korean food to pair with the offerings from over the bar.


Let your sight adjust to the Portside Lounge as they prove not to be your typical tiki bar, while still drawing from and paying homage to the vibrancy, pleasure and mystique we’ve come to know the aesthetic by —  a set of characteristics also engrained in the history of our fair city.


What Danny Nick and Rachel Rose have done is start a bar born of New Orleans by allowing it to grow naturally within New Orleans. Already home to Central City’s Red Flaming Mardi Gras Indians, Portside Lounge is dedicated to remaining receptive to the neighborhood through their undeniable laissez les bons temps rouler attitude. So why not roll up, kick back, take in the tiki flair, and get a little umbrella in that afternoon beer just for the hell of it? 


Portside Lounge

3000 Dryades St.

Open Daily: 4pm-ish - Till’ 

French Market
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Michael Weber, B.A.


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Linzi Falk

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