Bachelor parties are expanding into new territory these days as Las Vegas, Cabo, and South Beach are a little played out. The idea is to make it a memorable experience with your close friends but to do something a little more unique than what we’ve seen in The Hangover and Last Vegas.
On a search for something original yet familiar, we landed on the idea of a Southern gentleman’s bachelor spanning across two cities. A Houston-to-New Orleans parlay was a best-of-both-worlds compromise of friends that turned into a much-loved adventure. Of course, you know about the barbecue in Houston and the bourbon in New Orleans, but if you’re planning a party for a friend who’s taking the plunge, here are some unique ideas in those two cities to build an itinerary around:
Where to Stop for a Classy Lunch: Peska
It’s hard to gauge what’s more impressive at Peska: the incredible executions of seafood preparation or the fact that a 22-year-old Venezuelan chef helms the restaurant. Yes, that’s right; Omar Pereney is just 22 years old. While most of us were figuring out what we wanted to do with our lives at that age, Pereney has already been a successful TV show host on one of the most-watched Latin American cooking shows and runs an acclaimed restaurant.
If you’ve been to Estiatoro Milos (in Miami, Las Vegas, or New York), then Peska will be familiar to you. Clean Mediterranean flavors with classy presentations are what’s served. I recommend the ceviches as well as the whole fried fish.
Where to Get Dressed: Hamilton’s Shirts
Bespoke is at its best at Hamilton’s, where they have been measuring and making shirts since 1883. Now in its fourth generation, it’s an American institution and is the perfect place to get you and the boys uniquely fitted. In an era when most clothes are made by machines in countries far away, Hamilton’s is the last of the unicorns, cutting every piece of fabric and sewing every shirt by hand in their Houston workshop.
Where to Get Groomed: Aidan Gill
Ladies have their spa day during bachelorette parties, so make sure you pamper your boys, too. Spend an afternoon getting groomed at the ultimate barber shop in New Orleans: Aidan Gill. You may need to book weeks ahead but the shave is an otherworldly experience. An aperitif is included and as you unwind, your face will get alternating treatments of soothing creams and hot towels. You’ll feel like a new man. And if you’re lucky, you’ll bump into Mr. GQ himself: Aidan Gill. Not only is he a shaving expert, he’s an aficionado in all things related to men’s grooming.
Pro tip: Check out his cologne collection, offering some rare finds that you can’t even get at Neiman Marcus or Sak’s Fifth Avenue.
Where to Stay: Royal Sonesta
Houston, New Orleans
We stayed at the Royal Sonesta hotels in both cities. The Houston outlet has hosted the likes of the Villanova Wildcats (the weekend of the Final Four when they won the NCAA Championship last year) and the New England Patriots (the weekend they won Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004), so it’s surely fit to host a bachelor party. It’s within walking distance of the Galleria, the $2.4 million mall that is the fourth-largest in the nation, and their concierge service is fantastic. It’s like having a human TripAdvisor as they know the ins and outs of the trendy neighborhoods like the River Oaks District and Memorial, which are a short Uber ride away.
In New Orleans, the Royal Sonesta is located right on Bourbon Street, which is exactly where you want to be. As soon as you step outside you’ll walk right into the party. But you can call it a night once back within the hotel’s peaceful and classy walls.
Where to Go for a Drink: Le Colonial
Houston is a burgeoning city with lots of cool hotspots popping up. That’s a result of a growing, diverse population that will see the city become the third-largest in the United States within the next decade.
One of those new, trendy neighborhoods is the River Oaks District, the freshly constructed $500 million outdoor shopping complex. Once the luxury stores close for the evening, Le Colonial becomes the “it” spot for a drink. Hang out around the bar on the second floor and you’ll be sure to meet and mingle.
Where to Indulge: Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts
There are always wild nights during bachelor parties, so if you need to ingest sugar, fat, and carbs to soak up some hangover, Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts is your destination. It’s a little spin on the sweet-and-savory Southern hit chicken and waffles. Allow your taste buds to have some fun and don’t be that Neurotic Nancy that’s calorie-counting. Just indulge.
If you want to go with the traditional route, just dive into the doughnuts. From the praline and bacon to the Nutella-filled, it’s quite a unique variety. Those who are more adventurous should order the doughnut ice cream or the double doughnut chicken fried sandwiches.
Where to Have a Special Meal: Restaurant R’evolution
Acclaimed chef John Folse runs an incredible establishment at Restaurant R’evolution, which is ideal for that special meal. The venue itself has multiple rooms that exude different feels like an Italian trattoria or a French bistro. The private dining room feels luxurious, and if you’re party is big enough, that’s the spot that’s recommended.
The cuisine is Italian/French fine dining with an infusion of Louisiana flavor like the beer-battered crab beignets and the foie gras peaches and cream. To warm up, try a board of the house-made charcuterie and/or the selection of pates and terrines, which we’re happy to endorse. For the main course, the seared sea scallops and foie gras are an excellent blend of rich and buttery.
Where to Have a Nightcap: Pat O’Brien’s
Pat O’Brien’s has been a fixture in New Orleans since 1933, and is even rumored to have created the legendary New Orleans cocktail, The Hurricane. Nowadays, it’s a great place to go to end the night and listen to their pianos duel. There are rotations of talented piano players that key-in through the night, taking requests as inebriated patrons call for the classics. Ask for some Oasis or Journey, and bond with the room as everyone sings.