Our Bourbon Street or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Hand Grenade (Gravy Ep. 10)

You probably have a mental image of Bourbon Street: drunken revelers, neon signs, debauchery of many kinds. Well, it once was just a residential street in the heart of the French Quarter—totally normal. No Big Ass Beers or Huge Ass Beers. How did it go from that to the temple of over indulgence that it is today?

In this episode of Gravy, Rien Fertel brings us the people’s history of Bourbon Street—and the story of the wickedly strong cocktail that has become one of its staples.

Hand Grenades at the Tropical Isle.
Hand Grenades at the Tropical Isle.

Here’s Rien Fertel’s book Imagining the Creole City.

You can learn more (lots and lots more) about Bourbon Street’s history in Rich Campanella’s book.

The Tropical Isle’s website—with all the Hand Grenade merchandise you could ever want—is here.

Tropical Isle signage, Bourbon Street.
Tropical Isle signage, Bourbon Street.

Here’re a couple of choice Tropical Isle ads: Mad Scientists Create the Hand Grenade… and Pinocchio the Lying Bartender.

You can learn more about the history of New Orleanian cocktails here. And Laffite’s Blacksmith Shop Bar is here.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, now a bar, with the curvaceous roof Rich Campanella mentions in the story.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, now a bar, with the curvaceous roof Rich Campanella mentions in the story.

If you’re curious about New Orleans’ two Chinatowns, there’s an article about them here.

A remnant of one of New Orleans' Chinatowns on Bourbon Street.
A remnant of one of New Orleans’ Chinatowns on Bourbon Street.