The Old Absinthe House was built in 1806 and now houses a bar and restaurant. The drink for which the building and bar were named was once outlawed in this country (certain chemical additives, not the actual wormwood used to flavor the drink, caused blindness and madness). Now you can legally sip the infamous libation in the bar and feel at one with the famous types who came before you, listed on a plaque outside: William Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, Walt Whitman, Andrew Jackson,and the Lafitte brothers, who plotted their desperate defense of New Orleans here in the War of 1812.
The house was a speakeasy during Prohibition, and when federal officers closed it in 1924, the interior was mysteriously stripped of its antique fixtures—including the long marble-topped bar and the old water dripper that was used to infuse water into the absinthe. Just as mysteriously, they reappeared in another bar down the street, and then once again returned to one of the restaurants on this site. The bar is now covered with business cards (and drunks), so don’t come looking to recapture some kind of old-timey classy atmosphere. But it’s still a genuinely fun, historic hangout.