Every time Amanda Gunderson visits New Orleans, she leaves inspired. The mixologist – who splits her time between Phoenix and Los Angeles – is CEO and co-founder of Valley-based nonprofit Another Round Another Rally, an organization that focuses on helping small businesses in the hospitality industry. What better place to immerse oneself in that culture than in The Big Easy? “The hospitality there is second to none,” Gunderson says. At last year’s Tales of the Cocktail trade conference in NOLA, Gunderson won a Pioneer Award for her own contributions to her profession at the event’s Spirited Awards ceremony. Her New Orleans advice: Get off the beaten path. “Get out of the [French] Quarter. There’s a lot more to New Orleans than the Quarter. Explore and find some hidden jewels,” she says. “There’s literally no other city like it in the world.” She shares her favorites with us.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Gunderson was finally able to check this festival off her bucket list during her most recent visit to New Orleans. She was not disappointed. “Think of it as Coachella, but better and jazzier,” she says. “You can be anybody and go to this event and enjoy.”
Gunderson is a fan of this “backyard party” that began as a wine shop, morphed into a pop-up experience as the city recovered from Hurricane Katrina, and eventually evolved into an outdoor watering hole and music venue so beloved by locals that it was featured in HBO’s Treme. “There is always some type of music,” she says. “It is such a nice place to spend the afternoon and early evening.”
New Orleans is synonymous with celebration, but sometimes the most impactful memories we can make are more somber and reflective. The Whitney Plantation offers a look back into the history of slavery in the United States and particularly in Louisiana. Gunderson says it was “a very emotional day” when she visited.