As compiled by Mark Leopold and photographed by Frank Farmer
It’s a Friday afternoon, you just got off work. You’re thirsty. Really, really thirsty. You don’t know where to get a drink. Panic not – I’ve got you covered. This is the Libation Lover’s Guide to Fondren, and I hope you don’t have to get up early on Saturday.
Your first stop is The Pig and Pint. You walk into the front door and are greeted by the always smiling staff. You are also greeted by the intoxicating aroma of brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken. Oh, you are probably hungry. Go ahead, get some brisket nachos. I’ll wait. You head up to the bar and are overwhelmed with the dozens upon dozens of bottled beer choices from Abita to Weihenstaphaner, local craft beer to centuries-old staples.Â Their eight beers on draft are always rotating, and there is always a good find that they have had tucked away in their walk-in, gracefully ageing until the moment is right.
After that you walk across the street to CAET. A bourbon slushie sounds good right now, and the flavors change up regularly. Or maybe you are in a celebratory mood? Fear not, Caet features a selection of some of the very finest bourbons around. But old faithful at Caet is certainly the wine selection.
Thirty wines by the glass, available as small as a two ounce pour if you want to imbibe on multiple selections, or just wet your lips with grapey goodness. If you get there between 4 and 6 p.m., peruse the $5 happy hour menu with creations like shrimp corndogs, Pimm’s Cup, fried chickpeas and more.
You close out your tab and wonder how far you have to walk to the next place. The answer? Ten feet. Saltine Oyster Bar. Thirty draft beers adorn the wall behind the bar. The selection rotates quickly, so drink ‘em while you can. An extensive rum collection would delight the taste buds of even the saltiest pirate, and several are featured on the house cocktail menu. If you have managed to get there before seven o’clock help yourself to five buck glasses of a half dozen wines, and select $1 oysters from around the country. Now you are ready to go to the next place, but you don’t want to leave the cheery atmosphere of the old Duling School. No worries, we are walking to the other side of the building.
Welcome to Babalu Tacos and Tapas. You are probably familiar with it. They are always slinging scrumptious beverages, but if you can make it there during social hour from 4 to 6 p.m. you can choose between $4 sangria or $5 wines and well drinks. This is your fourth bar of the evening, so you’ll probably want to cap that off with some $2 tacos (if it’s Tuesday). And of course you’d be remiss to leave Babalu without having a Babarita or other seasonal margarita selections. Want to keep it simple? Babalu also offers a deep selection of tequilas.
The sun is definitely down by now, and you are ready to take a step back in time to Jackson’s speakeasy: The Apothecary. Walk to the back corner of Brent’s and pass through the velvet curtain into the dimly lit room. The industry favorite is the beer & shot special, but you are here for a cocktail. Try one from their brilliant list, or let them create one for you based off your favorite spirit. They have also begun offering late night treats from the kitchen, so fill your stomach up again if you’re feeling peckish.Â Keep an eye on your watch though, because the hours pass like minutes behind this palisade of potations.
Finally, it’s time to end your evening. Your night cap is at Fondren Public, which will either make you feel like you’re in college again, or remind you how far removed you are from it. Either way, you have two dozen beers to choose from on draft, or gallons of Fireball whiskey. Take your beverage out back to toss some cornhole with your pals or stay inside and play some shuffleboard. Pat yourself on the back. Congratulations, you’ve drank your way through Fondren. Now grab your phone and open the Uber app. It is time to go home.