As a Bay Area native, when I first heard the story of “Monkey Hill” in Audubon Zoo, I thought someone was yanking my chain. During the Great Depression, an artificial hill was constructed inside the zoo to show the children of New Orleans what a hill looked like. Even today, locals still claim that Monkey Hill is the highest point of land in the city. Seeing how I grew up in a neighborhood that had hills steep enough to make any kid on a bike Evel Knievel, this story totally blew me away.
What does this have to do with Monkey Hill Bar you ask? Well, nothing really. Unless you count the fact that posh bars in Uptown New Orleans are about as rare as say . . . a hill.
I’ve been curious about this bar for some time, partially due of all the questionable reviews I’ve read online painting the clientele as “guys with gel-compacted hair, who wear their sunglasses at night or chicks wearing dresses the size of shirts with fresh, bright orange tans” among other colorful descriptions. I kept thinking to myself…how bad can it actually be?
Since I am a Birkenstock-wearing, no make-up or hair products kind of gal, I have to admit I was feeling a bit wary when John and I walked into the darkened bar on the corner of Magazine and Webster Streets. Perhaps it was due to the lack of patrons so early in the day or because my bartender Ashley was sweet, attentive and accommodating, but I had no problems feeling quite comfortable in no time at all.
First of all, any bar sporting well-cushioned couches, squashy armchairs and stool seats larger than my ass already get an A+ in my book. Also, the whole “upscale” feel of the bar was dumbed-down a bit by a pool table, shuffleboard and several poker machines in the corner. But let’s talk about why I was really there.
Apparently, Monkey Hill Bar is known for their specialty martinis and when I asked Ashley which one was her favorite, she excitedly told me about the Double Espresso. Between her enthusiasm and my love of coffee, it was an easy choice to make. John opted for the Strawberry Vanilla. With a practiced hand, Ashley whipped up both drinks quicker than you can say “martini”.
The Double Espresso features Van Gogh Espresso vodka, Starbucks espresso liqueur and dark Creme de Cacao garnished with crunchy espresso beans and Hershey’s chocolate syrup. It was like breakfast, dessert and happy hour all in one martini glass ringing in at $9.50. Plus, Ashley’s heavy-handed pour and the happy hour, one dollar-discount made the whole venture more financially palatable.
John’s Strawberry Vanilla was equally delicious showcasing Stoli Vanilla vodka, white Godiva liqueur and strawberry liqueur garnished with fresh strawberries and strawberry syrup. We thoroughly enjoyed both martinis and I felt like a lightweight finding myself heavily buzzed after one drink! Talk about a cheap date…
Because of our shared love of coffee, Ashley introduced me to Patron XO Cafe. The smooth flavor of Patron mixed with a coffee concentrate? I was skeptical, but I knew if I liked it, the mix would equal Kim wandering the streets of New Orleans with no shoes, an identity crisis and a new tattoo. Ashley devilishly offered us two shots on the house and that was all she wrote…I fell in love. I knew that I had to get out of there fast or suffer the consequences.
In case you were wondering, we didn’t see any of the afore-mentioned yuppies during our stay, but we did spot a monkey!