There are lots of blogs that tell you what to drink, where to drink, how to make a good drink, or a new drink. Blogs that parse the merits of one bourbon’s smoothness or another’s spice. Blogs listing the latest drinking trends from the emergence of Mescal or the fading favor of Fernet. All are worthy topics, but they are not the focus of Open Tab. Instead, Open Tab explores what happens around the glass, the bottle and the bar. What happens when people drink together or alone, in public or in private, legally or not quite. This blog is less about drinks and more about drinking.

I live New Orleans, a city that the rest of the United States often defines in terms of drinking, and frankly these are terms we are happy to accept. Drinking is a ubiquitous part of both being a New Orleanian and visiting this place. As a resident and Cocktail Tour guide I have ample opportunity to observe the many different kinds of drinking that happen here. Periodically I leave the Isle d’Orleans for a place with less flexible attitudes toward drinking and like Jane Goodall, I try to blend in and observe. I know that I bring my own expectations and prejudices about drinking with me, but I do my best to leave them at home and fully experience other kinds of drinking with friends and strangers, mostly in my country but occasionally abroad.

Anthropologists look at social interactions as ways of understanding people and places. Historically most of that analysis has focused on actions relating to war, politics and religion, while drinking has been relegated to the fringes of cultural discussion. But I think drinking merits as much attention as these other topics. It yields a similar range of musings from the lofty to the sordid, and encompasses everyone, because whether you consume or eschew booze, you still have an opinion on it and it still impacts where and how you live.

In addition to sundry ruminations on drinking, Open Tab will feature interviews with bartenders exploring what it is to be a bartender in their particular patch of the world and how their bar fits in (or doesn’t) with its locale. You may also learn from these interviews how to make a drink or two.

As to the name. Well, we all know that when you leave your tab open, you can keep drinking until the bar closes or the bartender boots you out. But here in New Orleans, there is no official closing time. And so, theoretically, you can keep your tab open indefinitely, nursing a well made drink from sunset to sunrise and back again. There’s no hurry to finish and leave. I this blog hopes inspires a similar response.