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New Orleans bars deserted as Isaac sweeps through

This time last month every bartender and his dog had flown into New Orleans for the annual Tales of the Cocktail, but Hurricane Isaac has ensured its legacy is short-lived.

New Orleans Tales of the Cocktail
A sunny New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail – one month before Isaac hit

Hurricane Isaac made landfall last night in the US state of Louisiana, bringing with it winds of up to 80mph.

Its arrival ironically marks the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating blow to the region, which killed 1,800 people in 2005.

Thousands have evacuated the area, while 5000 have reportedly sought shelter from the American Red Cross. Around 500,000 people are also thought to have lost power to their homes.

Bars in the city’s French Quarter, which were buzzing with bartenders, spirit producers and drinks writers just weeks ago, have closed until the storm passes.

While many stayed open as long as possible, others like The Old Absinthe Bar, learned lessons from the effect of Katrina and boarded up windows and doors, laying sandbags where possible.

“Bars in the French Quarter usually stay open as long as they can which is some time as long as they have power,” Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, told The Spirits Business. “[But] it is unsafe for the crews to go out now.”

However she added that while one eight foot levee has failed to stop floodwaters spreading, Isaac’s effect on New Orleans, and the beloved bars within its boundaries, have so far not been as bad as Katrina’s.

“The areas you are seeing on the news are a little outside of NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana). It’s not as bad as Katrina at all, but in some areas they will have more damage. The levee that is overtopping is a private levee in an area outside of the levee protection, which is not as safe. All of the new levees and government systems have been working great.

“We are okay,” she added. “I am with my sister, mom and brother in law.”

As of 8am local time, Hurricane Isaac was located just south of New Orleans, but could take up to 12 hours to travel through. By midday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued a dusk till dawn curfew.

“We’re still getting hammered pretty hard right now by high winds and rain,” Sam Kille of the American Red Cross told the BBC. “We expect this to be a very long and drawn out event for us. When the storm passes there will be a lot more people who are not going to have power.”

KXAN report Chris Sadeghi took this video just hours before Isaac hit New Orlean’s French Quarter on Tuesday:

Are you in New Orleans or on the flight path of Hurricane Isaac? Did you visit Tales of the Cocktail last month and have a story to tell? Email us at

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