Avenue Pub in New Orleans, Louisiana

Barkeep by | Jul 2014 | Issue #90

Before Avenue Pub was New Orleans’ beer bar du jour, it was just another neighborhood taproom. Polly Watts remembers those early days 27 years ago, because she helped her dad open it. She also remembers Hurricane Katrina, when the two of them lived on the balcony for a month with an arsenal of guns. Following a stressful recovery period, and her father’s passing about a year later, she took over. A few years after that, as she got into craft beer, so did Avenue Pub. “Enthusiasts tend to think of us as a beer bar, but we’re just as much a neighborhood joint, bourbon bar and late-night hangout,” she says.

Of course, most late-night hangouts aren’t open 24 hours a day, don’t have 42 taps and more than 100 bottles of the best craft beer from all over the country (including locals like Bayou Teche and NOLA Brewing), and don’t serve Cantillon on occasion. But that’s why Avenue Pub isn’t your average place. Vickie Robinson has worked there for 25 years and calls Duane, Polly’s father, “a fair man and a lot of fun.” She’s loyal to the pub because it’s been loyal to her. “I have seen a lot of stuff happen here,” Robinson says. “They say there is nothing new under the sun, but it has been my experience that there are indeed plenty of new experiences. I’m 60 years old and will probably stay here until I die.”

NOLA Beer Blog proprietor (and BeerAdvocate contributor) Nora McGunnigle frequently finds herself at Avenue, “spending many hours and dollars on a sunny Saturday or Sunday afternoon.” She’s covered the family business for several different magazines and websites, and thinks of the decades-old bar that’s been celebrating craft beer for five years now as a shining example for its city.

“I think it’s a great story,” McGunnigle says. “The way Polly sorta stumbled backwards into the craft beer trend, when no one else [in New Orleans] was doing it, and just took it and ran with it to create one of the best and most unique craft beer bars in the country. The Avenue Pub has been the single largest driving force of bringing craft beer to New Orleans and educating the market.”