One of the perks of being the Southern Food & Beverage Museum is that it's almost imperative that we allow food and drink in the museum. There's no better time to enjoy the full museum experience than just around 3:00 PM. Why is that, you might ask? Well, for one, the light is really beautiful on the museum floor around then, the lunch crowd has left so the space is a little quieter, and, most importantly, Toups South has just started their fantastic happy hour.
We tell all of our visitors that they are encouraged to get a cocktail at the old Bruning's Bar before exploring the museum. Plenty of people avail themselves of this option, because, obviously it's more fun to learn about food and drink history while participating yourself. Plenty of people also take the opportunity to eat lunch in Toups, enjoying a spread of delicious pan-Southern dishes that bring to life the foods that we cover in the museum. And if you pick the right seat, you can watch the all-star kitchen crew play out their part in the perpetual dance of culinary and cultural exchange that every meal offers.
But come at happy hour (3 to 6 PM everyday except Sunday!) and you'll get the best of both worlds. First, pick up an order of cracklin or corndogs for the perfect accompaniment to wandering the Trail of Smoke and Fire through the Southern state exhibits. Don't forget to visit the Franklin Barbecue smoker on display in the backyard--it'll probably be emitting delicious smoky smells because Toups uses it for slow cooking. Then head back to the bar for a local beer or a bourbon cocktail to finish up the state displays and explore the amazing history of brewing, distilling, and wine-making throughout the South. If you've got a sip or two left, start on The Museum of the American Cocktail's New Orleans Collection and thank the alcohol gods that you're not living through Prohibition. Since you've been passing by the Maryland exhibit a few times by now on your trips between the museum and the restaurant, you should probably grab a biscuit with crab-fat butter to finish up your adventure. While you're there, you might as well grab a glass of wine from France or Italy to pair with your final pass through the Culinary Innovation Center and the Leah Chase Louisiana Gallery. #YOLO/it's only right that you fully appreciate the region's culinary history. At this point, you should be close to fully sated the museum closed at 5:30 PM anyway, so why not meander back to the bar and enjoy one last bite or sip as you process all you've learned.
And that's how you do happy hour at SoFAB. Cheers!