Aug 16, 2018

It’s always a holiday at New Orleans’ Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge

I’ve been debating whether I should blog about Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge since my first visit in March 2017, not because it wasn’t blogworthy.  On the contrary, Snake and Jake’s may be the best dive bar I’ve ever been to by the purest definition of the term.  Rather, Punky and I would hate for the place to get too crowded with tourists or lose any of its amazing dive bar charm. 

Yes, it’s that special.  Let me give you a peek into why.  

I don’t normally skip ahead to the end of our visit on these blog posts, but this dance outside of Snake and Jake’s shows you the euphoria Punky had after two hours at the place.  And no, we hadn’t been drinking on the lengthy streetcar ride down St. Charles Avenue and the four-block walk from Carrolton Avenue to get there.

But Snake and Jake’s is simply that kind of place, where you can escape from reality and just enjoy yourself and the company of other barflies in attendance.  Maybe that’s why people from all walks of life go there, from Tulane students to Tulane professors, from blue collar workers to the rich and famous (It has counted Bourdain and Clooney among its list of celebrity patrons).  Frankly, we couldn’t have found the place any more welcoming or laid back than it was. 

The first time we ventured in search of Snake and Jake’s, we arrived not long after the bar opened at 7 p.m.  The hours are officially 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., but we got the impression it varies depending on when the bartender arrives and when the last drunk stumbles out in the morning.  Nonetheless, we were greeted with a hearty welcome by Juan and his girlfriend and were almost instantly offered a piece of their Guinness cake they baked earlier in the day.   

We knew this was our kind of dive bar.  And once the sun set, as if on cue, a steady stream of devotees began to fill up the seats at the bar. 

Among them was Juan’s pet, Peeve, the resident bar dog.  How could you not want to share a drink with this lovable face?

If Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge looks like it’s taken refuge in an old shed or garage, well, that’s a pretty accurate assessment.  The lighting is minimal, relying primarily on old strings of Christmas lights, which double as the bar’s main source of decoration.  Perhaps you also noticed the lighted wreath hanging high above the bar’s entrance outside.  And honestly, as the flash on this photo shows, why would you want it lit any other way?

From the dilapidated ceiling on the inside, the warped tin roof on the outside, the worn-thin floor, the worn out furniture and hodgepodge of dusty photos and mementos along the walls, the place is a wonderful mess.  And frankly, if any of this worries you, you probably don’t belong here. 

Just relish in the dive-ish charm of it all, and listen to the stories from Juan and his patrons as they recall some of Snake and Jake’s more infamous moments, such as the night a possum fell through the ceiling (they immortalized it by inventing the Possum Drop drink – a shot of Jagermeister dropped into a glass of Schlitz).

As you’ve probably guessed, Snake and Jake’s is a shot-and-a-beer type of place.  If your cocktail requires more than two ingredients, they may be able to make it … but they probably won’t.  And Schlitz is apparently the beer of choice among the patrons.  Schlitz.  In New Orleans.  Who knew?? 

I was perfectly content with Jack and Cokes, Miller High Lifes and shots of Jameson.  And so was Punky.  We may have also snuck in a shot or two of tequila somewhere over the course of a couple of visits.  We may have also purchased a couple of souvenir shirts.

And there is no “beer garden” at Snake and Jake's.  But there is the back patio, which is much better and much more appropriate.  It’s not much to look at, but there are just enough tables, chairs and swings to gather around to engage your new friends in conversation.  As fate would have it, our second trip to Snake and Jake’s coincided with Easter Sunday, and the bar had an Easter egg hunt; every egg found was worth a free drink.  This was occurring while a university professor smoking a pipe led a few of his students in a rousing game of “Cards Against Humanity.”

I’ve covered some notable and notorious dive bars on this blog, but as far as I’m concerned Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge tops them all.  They even have a decent social media presence, which can be rare among dive bars.  It’s definitely worth getting off the beaten path – or tourist tracks – in New Orleans to seek this place out and just chill for a while.  Plus, you never know who you’ll see or what will happen while you’re there.  But it’s bound to be worth the trip.

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