The newly opened Elysian Bar in New Orleans isn’t your typical hotel bar. For starters, the space stands on its own, in the former 19th century church rectory now known as The Hotel Peter & Paul. It’s a place that has its own romantic, old-world feel with detailed murals and collected antiques throughout. Bacchanal Group, the team behind the local favorite James Beard award nominated wine bar, runs it. Chef Alex Harrell focuses on a menu of small plates that are served throughout the day while carefully chosen wines and cocktails draw much of the Marigny crowd in. But the thing that really sets this spot apart from most hotel bars is that the majority of guests aren’t even staying in the hotel. The crowd tends to be a total medley of locals and tourists alike.
We recently caught up with the team behind The Elysian Bar and got the full scoop on the space, its history and what everyone’s eating and drinking when they drop by for a visit. For more of the scoop behind the incredible six-year renovation of the property’s church, rectory, convent and schoolhouse, hop on over to read our interview with ASH NYC.
Photography courtesy of Hotel Peter & Paul
What part of the historic church property was The Elysian Bar originally?
The Rectory. The Rectory is the heart of the property, featuring the hotel’s lounges and The Elysian Bar. The space was formerly housing for the priests who lived on the Hotel Peter & Paul campus, and has the feeling of a large private home.
How would you describe the space as it was at the start of the project?
The space was largely emptied, unfinished, not polished.
And how would you describe it now?
Upon entering The Rectory, guests are greeted with a beautiful wooden center hall stair. At right is the hotel’s coffee bar – a tiny space replete with blue and white delft tiles, more stripes, carrying over the theme from the school, and a hand-painted mural of orange trees and a trompe l’oeil tented ceiling by Ann Marie Auricchio.
The common spaces of the Rectory are awash in tones of warm cream, painted by hand with lime paint from Pure and Original. Parlor 1 and Parlor 2, as we call them, feature two working Italianate fireplaces and ample seating, mostly antique, sourced from all over Europe, sitting atop a grounding expanse of rich saffron colored rugs. The windows are dressed in an orange vine patterned fabric from Claremont, in a unique tent-flap-style drapery inspired by John Dickinson. Both the public and hotel guests use these spaces.
Continuing your journey through the space, beyond the central stair is the Breakfast Room. Upon entering, guests are greeted with floor-to-ceiling glass French doors that spill open onto the hotel’s inner courtyard. Floors of red and white check tile add color to the space, which offers café-style seating with vintage rattan chairs and custom wooden tables. The room is wrapped in a mural of lush proportions and content.
Just beyond the breakfast room is the hotel’s bar. The bar room features immersive fretwork pattern lacquered millwork in tones of warm honey and amber -- and the bar itself a piece of art – derived and abstracted from images of cypress tree roots in the Louisiana bayou. The wooden bar top is hand-painted in trompe l’oeil with treasures abound, again by Ann Marie Auricchio. Custom lighting by ASH NYC keeps the space glowing in warmth and speaks to the adjacent courtyard space.
Out of the doors from the bar lies the hotel’s courtyard. The courtyard is a lively center of activity furnished with iron garden furniture reminiscent of a Provincial French terrace. Layers and layers of terracotta plantings fill the space with lush palms and evergreen plants.
In a city with such great food and cocktails, we'd be crazy not to ask about the menu. Can you tell us 2-3 of the most popular dishes and if there's a standout cocktail guests go crazy for?
Guests love the French rolled omelet and warm whipped ricotta served with house made flatbread. The heirloom grits is a popular dish as well.
Folks are gravitating toward the aperitivo cocktails – like the Athenian vermouth & tonic (Otto’s Athens vermouth, Fevertree Mediterranean tonic, orange bitters, lemon) – that are a great way to start off an evening of drinking. We offer many classics as well, with the classic daiquiri being a popular item.
Any upcoming events we should know about?
Keep an eye out for official aperitivo programming announcement on our social media @elysianbarnola