Visit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
You can’t visit New Orleans without stopping by Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on the corner of Bourbon Street and St. Philip Street, right in the midst of the French Quarter. It was built during the French/Spanish ruling of the 18th century and is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Officially, it’s the oldest building in the entire country that also offers full bar service! Small, dark and intimate, it’s the perfect way to kick back with cocktails on your trip.
Nobody knows all the details of its history, but it’s generally agreed that privateer Jean (John) Lafitte was a sole proprietor during the first part of the 19th century. The Lafittes have a notorious and sordid past in New Orleans, allegedly illegally seizing and dealing in contraband—although there’s no real proof of this. However, documentation wasn’t that prevalent circa 1800, as the Lafitte’s name was spelled incorrectly in historical documents for years!
Your Local Haunt
Legend has it that Lafitte’s is also haunted. The blacksmith shop may very well have been used as a genuine business on the up and up, since Lafitte and his associates needed a lot of horses to take care of business. Plus, his brother Pierre was a blacksmith. Today’s proprietorship hearkens back to the 1940s when Roger “Tom” Caplinger bought the abandoned space and created Café Lafitte.
It quickly became a bohemian night spot, popular with celebrities and the LGBTQ community. Caplinger bought another local building in 1953, Café Lafitte in Exile, which remains the oldest gay bar in the country. Today, Lafitte’s is a National Historic Landmark that still serves up tasty cocktails.