Pompano's French Quarter Bar & Grill Offers a Taste of New Orleans

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Night Watch is a regular feature about bars and clubs by nightlife columnist Tara Nieuwesteeg.

Here in sunny South Florida, we have the privilege of visiting the beach, with its white sands, surrounding palm trees, turquoise waters, and scantily-clad sunbathers every day of the year.

But sometimes (especially with the recent uncharacteristic cold!) even we need a change of scenery. This week, Night Watch scoped out a couple nightspot replicas of legendary party places. Think New Orleans and Key West too are too far to drive to for a few drinks? Get the same experience without racking up the mileage.

First stop: French Quarter Bar & Grill (2341 N Federal Hwy, Pompano Beach Call 954-781-5222, or visit frenchquarterbarandgrill.com).

The exterior walls of the quaint, reconstruction-era-structured French Quarter are beautifully adorned with a sunset-hued jazz mural. We passed through the doors, into the Old South-style restaurant/bar and grabbed a spot at a high, wooden table. Black and white photos of N'Awlins--the Mississippi River and plenty of Bourbon Street shots--festooned the walls; fake plants and street-style lanterns jazzed up the décor, and a collection of petite, pony-tailed blondes served up jambalaya and Bourbon milk punch to the visiting collection of Vieux Carre-lovers.

I grabbed a drink menu and checked the options--between the island-inspired drinks with names like "Tropical Storm" (not as strong as a Hurricane), "Voodoo Cherry Kiss Cosmo" (the only gris-gris you'll need) and "Cool Brees #9" (in honor of the New Orleans Saints' QB), there were enough fruit-tastic liquor options to wash down a meal of rice, red roasted potatoes, and sweet, sticky, cornbread.

Leaving my friend Beard to lick the plastic basket the cornbread came in, I approached the bar, with its token altar of liquor bottles and beer taps. The bar itself was reminiscent of a trolley station, with brass columned bars, a sizable cherry-wood awning, and a bunch of folks all packed together. A grey-haired gentleman leaned over to kiss his blond, slightly younger wife; single, middle-aged women talked raucously; and more than a few young ladies sipped Hurricanes, the French Quarter's signature drink. I finally pinned down bar manager Ashley, a blond in a prim flowered top and sparkly jewelry.

I found out that the owner himself was straight from N'Awlins; the place had only been open since December 14, 2008; it stays open until 2 AM; and Monday -- Friday happy hours boast plentiful 2-for-1s.

"We're really trying to develop the nightlife," Ashley said. "We want to play up the fact that it's a bar. We have live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and plenty of room to dance."

 "Nice," I said. "What about for football fans?"
"Well, if the Saints go to the Super Bowl, there's going to be a big party," she said.
"Not the way they've been playing," I said bitterly. (Drew Brees was my Fantasy Football QB in the New Times league. He let me down in the first round of the playoffs.)

I beelined from Ashley to a trio of barely-legal kiddos huddled at a small table. Alex had chestnut hair, huge Bambi eyes and a velour sweatshirt; Ryan was compact and blonde; Victor was dark-haired in an oversized hoodie.

I pointed to Alex's drink: sticky-sweet, ruby-red, practically congealing before my very eyes. This was the infamous Hurricane, made famous by Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans and responsible for many a forgotten/regretted night.
"How's the drink?"
"Oh, it's good," Alex said. "No flavor is too overpowering; it all melds together very nicely." Well-said for a girl who looked barely out of high school.
 "I've got the New Orleans tea," Victor said stoically. "On a scale of 1 to 10, it's an 8."

 "So, any new year's resolutions?" I asked.
"Yes," said Ryan. "Continue drinking a lot."

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