Pat O’Brien’s Universal: A Legendary New Orleans Institution

Introduction: When it comes to iconic establishments in the heart of the French Quarter, Pat O’Brien’s Universal stands tall as a symbol of New Orleans’ rich history and vibrant nightlife. Established in 1933, this legendary bar and restaurant has been a staple for locals and tourists alike, offering a unique blend of delicious drinks, live music, and an atmosphere that exudes Southern charm. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating story behind Pat O’Brien’s Universal, explore its famous Hurricane cocktail, and uncover why this establishment continues to be one of the top destinations in the Big Easy.

Outline: I. The Origins of Pat O’Brien’s Universal A. The Prohibition-era beginnings B. Acquisition by Charlie Cantrell II. Stepping into Pat O’Brien’s A. The iconic courtyard and fountain B. Piano entertainment at its finest III. The Legendary Hurricane Cocktail A. The birth of an enduring classic B. Savoring the taste of NOLA IV. Live Music at its Best A. Jamming with dueling pianos B. Legendary acts through the years V. Souvenirs and Memories to Take Home VI. Conclusion


I. The Origins of Pat O’Brien’s Universal

A glimpse into the origins of Pat O’Brien’s Universal takes us back to 1933 when America was emerging from the grips of Prohibition—a time when alcohol was once again flowing freely across the nation.

A significant milestone in its history came in 1942 when local businessman Charlie Cantrell purchased what was then known as "Pat O’Brien’s." This acquisition would set off a series of changes that would contribute immensely to turning it into what we know today as Pat O’Brien’s Universal.

II. Stepping into Pat O’Brien’s

As you step through the doors of Pat O’Brien’s Universal, you are transported to another time and place. The bar’s picturesque courtyard, complete with a flaming fountain centerpiece, has become an iconic symbol of New Orleans hospitality. With its wrought-iron balconies and lush greenery, it’s no wonder visitors can’t resist capturing the moment.

While its courtyard is undoubtedly enticing, the interior charm of Pat O’Brien’s is equally captivating. Guests are treated to live piano music every night – a tradition that has been in place since its early days. Talented pianists entertain the crowd with their skillful playing and witty banter, creating an unforgettable atmosphere for patrons.

III. The Legendary Hurricane Cocktail

One cannot discuss Pat O’Brien’s Universal without mentioning their famous Hurricane cocktail—a drink that has become synonymous with both New Orleans itself and the vibrant nightlife scene.

The story goes that during World War II, liquor distributors forced bar owners to buy multiple cases of less-popular rum before they could obtain desirable whiskey or bourbon bottles. In order to tackle this challenge and create a signature drink using excessive amounts of rum, Pat O’Brien himself invented the Hurricane cocktail.

To this day, the Hurricane remains one of New Orleans’ most beloved drinks. Its blend of rum, passion fruit syrup, lime juice, and grenadine creates a sweet yet tangy taste that perfectly captures the essence of NOLA in a glass.

IV. Live Music at its Best

One cannot talk about Pat O’Brien’s Universal without exploring the wealth of incredible live music experiences it offers.

One particular highlight is their legendary dueling pianos show—a nightly event where two incredibly talented musicians go head-to-head on twin grand pianos while taking requests from the audience. This interactive experience guarantees a rollicking good time as guests sing along to familiar tunes and participate in friendly rivalry between performers.

Throughout its storied history, Pat O’Brien’s Universal has also attracted numerous legendary musicians to its stage. The likes of Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jr., and Jimmy Buffett have all graced this venue with their vibrant performances, solidifying its reputation as a must-visit spot for music enthusiasts.

V. Souvenirs and Memories to Take Home

Pat O’Brien’s Universal offers visitors the opportunity to take home a piece of this legendary establishment through an array of unique souvenirs. From t-shirts and glassware adorned with the iconic logo to collectible hurricane glasses, patrons can commemorate their visit in style.

Moreover, the memories made within these hallowed walls are equally priceless. The warm hospitality and lively atmosphere ensure that every visit to Pat O’Brien’s is an occasion worth cherishing for years to come.


Pat O’Brien’s Universal is more than just a bar; it is an institution that embodies the spirit of New Orleans. From its humble beginnings during Prohibition to becoming a global sensation, this iconic establishment has remained true to its roots while evolving into something truly remarkable.

With its picturesque courtyard, lively dueling pianos show, renowned Hurricane cocktail, and rich musical history, Pat O’Brien’s continues to captivate guests from around the world. So whether you are a first-time visitor or a long-time admirer, be sure not to miss out on experiencing the magic of Pat O’Brien’s Universal on your next trip to New Orleans—because it’s far more than just another bar—it’s an unforgettable journey into Southern culture and hospitality.

Keywords: Pat O’Brien’s Universal, Hurricane cocktail, dueling pianos