Keep your eyes peeled, but you won’t see anything anyway.
If I was asked what makes a dive bar special, somewhere on that top 10 list would be the ability to melt into the crowd (or lake thereof) with a domestic beer and nothing else. Walking into Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge is like walking into a time warp, where everything stops, everything fades away and there’s nothing but beer, conversation and Christmas lights.
To be clear at the top, Snake & Jake’s is one of the best dive bars on Earth, a shanty of a building miles away from both Bourbon Street and, seemingly, all of modern society. The roof is corrugated metal, slightly curled and warped from years of New Orleans rain & wind. A wreath hangs above the front door in keeping with bar’s name, and a glorious Regal Beer mural is really the only external clue that this is a place to drink cold beer.
At first glance, one might be forgiven for thinking that they’ve stumbled upon some grandfather’s garage rather than a bar, thanks to both the façade and the profoundly residential location. Inside, the only light comes from red string Christmas lights, giving any picture taken here a unique and unmistakable red hue. A sagging drop ceiling provides the perfect cap to the red-tinged ambiance.
As you might expect, haphazard Christmas decorations dot the space, primarily over the short, horseshoe-style bar just inside the front door. Stools surround the bar area and the exterior wall opposite, complemented by a well-worn black couch. Beware the black stool on the end, however, as it belongs to the bar’s mascot, a dog that can often be seen getting a drink of water from a cup placed there by the bartender.
Out back, a supremely secluded back patio offers some additional seating, spotted with metal patio furniture and the same low lighting that can be found inside. Just as the front door, the back door provides ample view of the bar’s framing, which looks like it could collapse at any moment, drooping under the weight of the Schlitz that is no doubt soaked into the bar’s every permeable surface.
And then there’s the tale of notable patrons of years past, ranging from Clooney to Bourdain according to a HuffPost piece on the bar. Perhaps they sampled the local delicacy of the house, a shot appropriately named the Possum Drop, part Jagermeister, part Schlitz. On last visit, this reviewer happened upon Jennifer Lawrence, enjoying the anonymity of almost total darkness. And the darkness is truly near total. Your own mother could be sitting a seat away and you’d struggle to notice.
Stated hours stretch until 7 AM, offering ample opportunity for an Uber away from tourist traps elsewhere within the city. But this place is a sight to seek out on its own, the perfect dive bar in a city that fits it perfectly. From the lean-to building to the dim lighting to the overwhelming focus on Schlitz as the bar’s drink of choice, Snake & Jake’s may just be the dive bar king of the south and a must-have inclusion on any New Orleans itinerary.