“one of the oldest surviving structures in New Orleans”
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is a historic building at corner of Bourbon Street and St. Philip Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Constructed in the French/Spanish colony during the early 18th century, it is one of the oldest surviving structures in New Orleans and has been called the oldest structure in the U.S. housing a bar. According to legend, the privateer Jean Lafitte (c.1780–c.1823), aka John Lafitte, owned a business here early in the 19th century. As with many things involving the Lafittes, such as possibly using this place to plot illegal seizures and the sale of contraband, no documentation exists. (It was only after the Lafitte brothers were long gone that Jean's signature was found on a document, finally ascertaining how their family name was spelled: LAFFITE.) It is purported to be one of the more haunted venues in the French Quarter. The name Blacksmith Shop may not be coincidental. Lafitte's associates may have operated a smithy here during the days of reliance upon horses, who had to be shod. Jean's older brother Pierre Lafitte was a blacksmith, and their associate Renato Beluche may have once owned this building. The current business traces its roots to Roger 'Tom' Caplinger, who in the mid-1940s turned the old abandoned shop into Café Lafitte. The cafe became a popular night spot that attracted a bohemian clientele, including the gay community and celebrities like Noël Coward and Tennessee Williams. However, Caplinger never held clear title to the property and the building was sold in 1953. He soon opened a second cafe at the other end of the same block named Café Lafitte in Exile, which maintains that it is the oldest gay bar in the U.S. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970. It is a rare extant example of briquette-entre-poteaux construction.
It's absolutely one of the coolest places to visit in the quarter. When you step inside it's like being transported to another time, and once you learn a bit more about the shops history and reported paranormal activity it only helps to heighten the mood.
An absolute hidden gem! Great atmosphere and cozy quarters.
My husband and I had just finished a Haunted History Ghost Tour walking the streets learning about NOLA's past when we ventured off for a drink and a bite to eat. With the assistance of our tour guide and a little prior research she pointed us In the direction of Jean Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop and congratulated us on knowing a unique spot in the Quarter.
When my husband first ordered the Obituary Cocktail, in which I read about in a Secret Guide to Famous NOLA Cocktails, the bartender laughed and said, 'trust me honey, she don't want that' and offered alternatives. My husband explained we were on our honeymoon and may never have the opportunity to visit again and reluctantly but thankfully the bartender created the necro themed cocktail; suiting to the theme of our day.
The colour of the concoction reminded me of the liquid ooze from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an intense and vibrant greenish yellow. With once sip my esphogus burned and sinuses became clear - I was warned.
We sat at a wobbly wooden two seater near the side door reading all the carved messages left from other lucky travellers who discover this site. I can proudly say I made it about 2/3 of the way through the cocktail but had to through in the towel before finishing it in it's whole.
All and all it was a great experience and credit to the staff for their patience and wilingness to make our experience unique.
POST COVID REVIEW! As of December 8th, 2020, this dope little spot is open. It is known to be the oldest bar in the USA. When we arrived, the doors and shutters were open, giving all the tables in use a nice view of the small jazz band playing across the street. It was awesome to experience live music again!
They have half a dozen beers on tap, and a full liquor bar. Service was prompt and friendly. Will definitely visit again on my next trip to New Orleans!
Stopped here during a ghost tour. Would have stopped by either way. A must stop if you visit NOLA!! Had a Hurricane and waited around for some ghosts. Make sure you take lots of photos (especially the tree in the courtyard) in case you catch anything out of the ordinary ;)
Make sure you stop in. Fair warning, a pirate ghost may unhook your bra in the ladies bathroom. I didnt make that up check the history.
At the quiet end of Bourbon Street, this was a great little gem. A rich history that you can feel in the air, great drinks and great music!
Didn't put this on the list of things to do. Just wad driving around to see the area, by the way the roads suck. Saw this place and was like this was on the map so stopped had a drink, bought a shirt and liked it. Street parking took awhile to find a spot.
Full disclosure: I'm a history nerd. So of course I love that this place was maybe a pirate hangout and might be the oldest building continuously operated as a bar in America, and the fact that there might be ghosts. I also like the beer selection and the piano although the slushie drinks and general atmosphere leave something to be desired.
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Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
- Sun - Sat: 10:30 am - 3:00 am
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Credit Cards Accepted
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