Don't let the heat get you down. A Yankee transplant and innkeeper of The Louie, in New Orleans, shares her newfound tips for surviving summer in the South.
NEW ORLEANS — My tolerance for sticky summer heat has always been mediocre. Even after living through ten Brooklyn summers, where fried sidewalk eggs are a thing and the annual installment of a window AC unit is ceremonious, I never quite accepted the inevitable subway sweat and frizzy hair. So to many of my friends, my decision to pick up and move to Louisiana last June seemed ill-advised. But the allure of renovating a 120-year house and creating The Louie, a design-y oasis for out-of-towners, was too hard to pass up. A year later — having successfully survived my first summer in NOLA — I’ve cobbled together a short list of my best coping strategies to beat the Louisiana heat (and humidity).
1. Find your daiquiri.
And if your reaction to that statement is negative, chances are you just haven't met the right one. In New Orleans, daiquiris (or "daqs") aren't exclusively of the ultra-sweet, electrically-colored, grain-alcohol variety. A whole host of joints across town offer creative, less-headache-inducing slants on the boozy, icy drink. Try an Arnie Palmer version from Dat Dog, the Eternal Summer from Alto, or the Watermelon-rita at Queenies. A proper beverage will reduce your body temperature by a full three degrees.
2. Make pool friends.
My husband and I met ours by the good fortune of having CA license plates. Jim and Bart, two recent SF transplants, eyed our car while walking by one day last August, and struck up a conversation. I offered to christen their pool with a bottle of rosé. It was a win-win. Less adept at aquatic networking? Make your way to Lake Pontchartrain and rent a Price Is Right-style pontoon boat. Or try the local hack of a spray bottle on a fanned porch.
3. Live the caftan life.
I never understood the utility of cotton sacks until I biked to dinner one evening last August in a silk jumpsuit. Lesson learned. Now my summer wardrobe consists entirely of a rotation of caftans or caftan-like getups. Poly blends or anything too form-fitting will do you no good here. Dressing like you're living in the Ottoman Empire, however, will. If you need inspiration, the Queens of Cool can be found at Saint Claude Social Club, a colorful treasure trove of vintage muumuu dresses and independently-designed baubles. Owners Margaret and Sarah nail the look.
4. Don't sweat the sweat.
Some days, there's no number of showers that can keep you fresh. Luckily, New Orleans is a casual culture and (by and large) judgement-free when it comes to showing up at a restaurant a bit dewy. If you're a Southerner, that's what handkerchiefs are for.
5. Treat doppler like a king.
Never had I fully appreciated the realness of flash flooding until I found myself in two feet of water on the off-ramp of a major roadway last July. Needless to say, my Target rain boots have paid for themselves and ponchos now sub in for umbrellas. Super-localized weather apps like Dark Sky aren't just handy here, they're life.
Truth be told, summer’s a lovely time to visit New Orleans. The city slows, the crowds thin, and more than ever, the chances of meeting a new friend over a daiquiri are pretty dang hig