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10 Best Bars in New Orleans

10 Best Bars in New Orleans

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“C’mon, honey, you have to show me more than that to get some beads!”

I was walking to my last bar for the evening, having thrown back a few Abitas and a Vieux Carré, when I turned onto Bourbon Street and suddenly found myself in the middle of a pre-Mardi Gras party, complete with three men throwing beaded necklaces to the drunken tourists willing to lift their shirts and bare skin.

10 Best Bars in New Orleans (Slideshow)

“Come on, let me see them,” one man coaxed me in his thick New Orleans’ drawl. “I have a special gold necklace for you, sweetheart.”

So there I was, in the heart of the French Quarter, contemplating revealing my breasts for a tacky necklace I cared absolutely nothing about.
How does this happen? I blame it on the intoxicating atmosphere. There’s something undeniably seductive about The Big Easy. While strolling the cobblestone streets lined with the romantic French- and Spanish-fused architecture, breathing in the humid air filled with the luring scent of warm beignets and fried oysters atop freshly baked French bread, and being enticed by live jazz wafting onto the street from inside tiny, smoke-filled bars, one can’t help but embrace the city’s energy and unabashedly let loose.

Because of this, narrowing down the best bars was far more challenging than I expected.

When I sought out eat and drink suggestions for this trip, the responses came from every angle: While eating at a crawfish boil in the East Village, two neighboring women at the bar informed me they were from the Crescent City and rattled off a dozen or so places I must try, which I quickly scribbled on a napkin covered in hushpuppy grease and crawfish juice. Waiting on the subway platform, doing laundry at the Chinese laundromat, having a beer at my neighborhood pub — no matter where I went in New York City, someone would happily dish on their favorite happy hours, trashy Bourbon Street watering holes and noteworthy spots outside of the Quarter (no one calls it by its full name). I was armed with a lengthy list of where to find the best of everything from classic NOLA cocktails to who has the best po’ boy sandwiches. Even once I arrived, locals, squeezing in between bar stools with me, freely shared their own favorites (something New Yorkers often covet and hesitate sharing with out-of-towners). By the third dive and nearly 20 more suggestions later, I realized this wouldn’t be my last trip to this sexy city.

What’s that? You want to know if I showed my breasts for that “special gold necklace?” Let’s just say, when in the South, my inhibitions weaken. Read into that what you will.

Day 1

I accidentally cut in front of the 40 or so people waiting in line outside of Acme Oyster House on Iberville Street before being sent to the back of the line. There’s a heated rivalry between Acme and its competitor across the street, Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar. There’s no line at Felix’s, and when people say they prefer it, not waiting is often the argument they pose for their choice. But, I stand by my choice, and within 30 minutes, I’m sipping on a cold Abita Restoration Pale Ale draft at the bar, followed by an Abita Purple Haze and some raw and char-grilled oysters. My bartender Pam fluidly manages this high-volume bar; greeting new guests, asking me and other guests, all by name, how the food is, and yelling, “Give me a minute!” to the cook calling out her name to pick up food, all without missing a beat. She’s worked at Acme for 13 years, which is many lifetimes when considering the high staff turnover in most bars. One local sitting next to me confides that most of the staff takes home about $100K annually. Though tempted to submit an application, I instead pay the bill and move on to Arnaud’s French 75 on Rue Bienville.Guests can wander up to the second floor where there’s a quasi-museum filled with encased historical artifacts and costumes from Mardi Gras festivities of eras gone by.

One step inside this reputable cigar bar — which, along with its renowned chief mixologist, Chris Hannah, has made several best bar lists, including those in GQ and Esquire magazines and is nominated for this year’s James Beard Awards for Outstanding Bar Program — and one feels transported back in time. Bartenders are clad in white cocktail jackets and black bowties. Guests freely puffed on cigars while seated at the antique bar or one of the couches located along the perimeter of the warmly lit room that feels almost like a parlor in someone’s house.

The space is quiet, a haven compared to the endless party-driven bars in the Quarter. I was fortunate enough to have my Vieux Carré prepared by Hannah himself. Guests can wander up to the second floor where there’s a quasi-museum filled with encased historical artifacts and costumes from Mardi Gras festivities of eras gone by.

After the speed bump that was the aforementioned bead-throwing along Bourbon Street, I finally made it Erin Rose on Conti Street, a service industry bar just off Bourbon Street. Having spent most of my life working in restaurants, this place is like coming home. Tattooed line cooks and weary waitresses saddle up for a cold beer and a shot after a hard day’s work, and there’s a feeling that you don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to or you could just as easily chat it up and make friends with the strangers sitting next to you. This Irish pub is known for its frozen Irish coffee, and rightfully so.

I’ve tasted some amazing cocktails around the world, and this one I’m still dreaming about it, which is something to be said. And for food cravings, there’s a kitchen in the back that houses Killer PoBoys, a pop-up featuring modern takes on this NOLA staple. It started last year and went over so well it became a permanent marriage. The Jameson grilled cheese is solid, as is the Moroccan spiced lamb sausage po’ boy served with homemade Tzatziki sauce. Hands down, this is my favorite New Orleans bar.

Rated as one of the top five bars in the country, they certainly know how to mix a drink at The French 75 at Arnaud’s. The elegant bar space has a distinctly French feel, and the menu of classically inspired cocktails makes use of the best local ingredients, homemade syrups and high-quality spirits.

Housed in a former firehouse on Freret Street, Cure is an award-winning bar. It’s especially known for its cocktail program and high-end bar food. Very popular on weekends, one insider tip is to head there during the week. Don’t forget to try its seasonal cocktail specials.

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Cocktail Crawl: 10 of the Best Bars in New Orleans

New Orleans is the Scheherazade of cocktail cities: It has infinite stories to tell about civilized drinking and exotic elixirs. The birthplace of some of America's great cocktails—including the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz—the city also has a seemingly bottomless supply of classic (and instant classic) bars to explore.

And when it comes to pouring out serious wisdom about New Orleans' best bars, bartenders, and secret potions, I look to Ann and Paul Tuennerman for guidance. In 2002, the Tuennermans started Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and have grown it into a worldwide celebration of cocktail culture throughout the year.

Here, the couple talks about their favorite cocktail bars (and concoctions) in the city.

Ann and Paul Tuennerman—the couple behind New Orleans' Tales of the Cocktail—talk about 10 of their . [+] favorite New Orleans bars.

“Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry and Mrs. Bum are the global authorities on tiki. They were inspired to move to New Orleans after attending Tales of the Cocktail. Latitude 29 is a chic tiki-gastropub that serves exotic drinks that span the entire 80-year history of tiki drinking and island-inspired cuisine. New Orleans is a perfect place for the tiki renaissance: tiki pioneer, Don the Beachcomber, is a New Orleans native who singlehandedly invented the tiki bar in 1934.”

“This celebrated intimate lounge serves classic New Orleans cocktails that are not to be missed—from the French 75, the Sazerac, or the Brandy Crusta. All of the cocktails are wonderful, as is the bar team.”

“Erin Rose is a classic New Orleans neighborhood bar, which I describe as tank tops to tiaras! It’s a meeting place for locals, musicians, artists, bon vivants, visitors…basically anyone (and everyone in between) is welcome. It’s known for its Frozen Irish Coffee and its potluck holiday dinners, where all are welcome.”

“Bacchanal Wine opened he same year as Tales of the Cocktail. And like us, it has evolved into what it is today: a beloved neighborhood bar, restaurant, wine shop, and music venue. It has often been called New Orleans Backyard—a beautiful space that is casual and elegant at the same time.”

“Self-described as the kind of place that serves ‘rustic colonial cuisine with prototiki cocktails,’ the restaurant offers fruity and island-inspired drinks—with lots of rum. With a husband who is a sailor, a rum bar is a must.”

“Few places capture the essence of New Orleans like Napoleon House. The building's first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile. Napoleon never made it—but the name stuck. And since then, Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America.”

“A pioneer of New Orleans' craft cocktail movement and a wonderful place to enjoy a well-made cocktail—preferably with a date or friends and colleagues.”

“The only carousel where you have to be 21 to ride. This bar will always have a special place in my heart, as it has been the spiritual home of Tales of the Cocktail. Walter Bergeron invented the Vieux Carre cocktail here in the 1930s. I love the inspiration for this cocktail. It was meant to reflect the diversity in New Orleans neighborhoods at the time. The ingredients reflected the melting pot that was New Orleans: bitters, American Rye, Benedictine, and Cognac.”

“This bar is named after what I consider to be the world’s first branded cocktail and history in a glass. (Each of the ingredients tells a story.) The bar and hotel take you back to the grandeur of old New Orleans—a time when Huey P. Long would stroll in. Order a Ramos Gin Fizz.”

Gene’s Daiquiri’s, 1034 Elysian Fields Avenue

“A quirky one-stop-shop for traditional New Orleans daiquiris named after rap stars and mobsters. Only in New Orleans do we have entire shops dedicated to one kind of drink! They have over 100 unique combinations of daiquiris to keep you coming back.”

Check out these 10 best bars in New Orleans.

1. Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits

Known as “Nola’s Backyard Party,” Bacchanal is a classy place for some epic eats and first-class libations. This brick building wine laboratory is an ideal place to experiment with that perfect wine and cheese combination. Bacchanal is dedicated to preserving the purity of the wine making process and only serves Old World-style wines sourced from smaller producers. Their open spaced backyard patio hosts live musicians every night. Stop in on a Saturday from 3-5 PM or Wednesday from 1-3 PM for one of their free wine tastings.

Address:600 Poland Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117

2. The Avenue Pub

Right in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans lies The Avenue Pub. Dating back to 1845, The Avenue Pub retains many of its historic features. The classic tin ceiling over the bar and New Orleans’ style shutter windows offer a unique touch to this bar. Offering a variety of beverages, includes craft brews on 40+ taps, The Avenue is the perfect place to get your drink on. We recommend the Sunday Paper stout or the Transatlantique Kriek sour. There are also a number of hotels nearby, so it’s only a short walk to get back to your room.

Address: 1732 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

3. Pat O’Brien’s

Since 1933, Pat O’Brien’s motto has been, “Have Fun!” and they certainly have. As one of the most visited bars in the city, Pat O’Brien’s has rave reviews from their variety of guests. The outdoor hangout spot, complete with a flaming fountain and dueling pianos keeps the ambiance alive. This bar invented the famous hurricane cocktail, certainly enough to rank it as one of the best bars in New Orleans. This drink consists of a combination of rums, passion fruit, and lemon juice. Order one and kick back in this fun and inviting atmosphere.

Address: 718 St Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116

4. The Carousel Bar

Hotel Monteleone’s classic venue offers an adult twist to your childhood memory of riding the carousel. Its aptly assigned name comes from the 360 rotating bar, which is literally a moving carousel. The Carousel Bar proudly announces that they’ve “been spinning for 65 years.” Their jam packed entertainment schedule offers new performances every night. The Carousel Bar’s menu includes classic cocktails and some light bar bites. Try the Vieux Carre, The Carousel Bar’s signature cocktail created by Walter Bergeron in 1938.

Address: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

5. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

One of the oldest bars around, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop has been serving up delicious drinks since the 1700s. This bar is named after Jean Lafitte, a privateer, entrepreneur, sailor, diplomat, spy, and hero of the Battle Of New Orleans. Of course, you are bound to get a bit of insight into historic New Orleans if you pay a visit here. This dimly lit brick building is a local recommendation and offers a standard bar menu.

Address: 941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116

6. Cure

An old 1903 firehouse transformed into a quirky cocktail lounge, Cure is classically one of the best bars in New Orleans. The brick walls and tall arching window panes create an edgy place to enjoy a cocktail or a beer fresh from the tap. Cure’s drink menu is both funky and delectable, with a number of unique drinks. Sip a Third Time’s the Charm martini, with hints of toasted hazelnut, chamomile flowers, and charred corn. Picard includes flavor notes of smoked black tea, caramel, chocolate, and rhubarb.

Address: 4905 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115

7. Twelve Mile Limit

Twelve Mile Limit is the ideal chill atmosphere to relax after a long day or in the midst of a pub crawl. The venue includes a pool table, darts, and a spacious patio. Its casual setting is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some late night eats. Enjoy the full cocktail bar, barbeque menu offerings, and of course cupcakes.

Address: 500 S Telemachus St, New Orleans, LA 70119

8. The Spotted Cat Music Club

An intimate jazz lounge serving a full drink menu, The Spotted Cat Music Club certainly ranks as one of the best bars in New Orleans. This quintessential jazz club remains a local favorite, and features a variety of up and coming jazz artists. Enjoy iconic local performances from New Orleans Cottonmouth Kings, Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns, and Dominick Grillo & The Frenchmen Street All-Stars.

Address: ​623 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116

9. Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge

Stay in the Christmas spirit well past the holiday season by paying a visit to Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge. Quite possibly one of the most unique bars you have been to, this lounge offers year-round retro holiday décor. You can visit here whenever, as they are open every night of the year, especially on Christmas. Their late night hours offer the maximum time to visit. Voted ‘New Orleans’ Best Dive Bar,’ this is the perfect place to wind down your New Orleans’ pub crawl. Come for the good drinks and leave with an extra dose of holiday cheer.

Address: 7612 Oak St, New Orleans, LA 70118

10. Buffa’s Bar & Restaurant

Right on the border of The Quarter lies Buffa’s Bar & Restaurant. The quaint, authentically New Orleans’ style dive bar is open 24/7. Offering late night eats and a breakfast menu, you can sit for a whole meal here. They have won repeated awards for the best bar food. Spice up your New Orleans experience with some Gator Balls or Fried Corn Nuggets. Your stomach will agree that this is one of the best bars in New Orleans.

Address: 1001 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

1. Preservation Hall

If you are a lover of jazz or you consider yourself an “old bone” then the Preservation Hall beckons you to come and indulge in some traditional New Orleans jazz. Considered as the keystone of New Orleans culture and music, Preservation Hall also operates as a touring band and a music venue at the same time. Attracting jazz enthusiasts, both local and international, this jazz bar is simply one of the best in the area.

Preservation Hall

Address: 726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

Website: Preservation Hall

Opening hours: 12pm - 4pm, 5pm - 7pm, 8pm - 11pm (daily)

The Maison

Whether you stop by for evening cocktails or Sunday brunch, the jazz at The Maison doesn't disappoint &mdash Photo courtesy of New Orleans & Company

No trip to New Orleans is complete until you’ve experienced the city well after dark though the city is always abuzz, many say this is when it truly comes alive.

Stop by The Maison on Frenchmen Street for an unpretentious take on live jazz with a spacious dance floor for bopping along to the beat. If the after-hours scene isn’t a fit for you, try reserving a table for their jazz brunch offered on Sundays just as lively a scene as any weeknight.

Best bars in New Orleans

1. Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt

This landmark, named after the city&rsquos official drink, exhibits qualities that define a classic New Orleans bar: grandeur, service and cocktails interlaced with local history. Ease into a seat at the lengthy wooden bar and order the signature sazerac, which legend holds was invented in the early 1800s by Creole apothecary Antoine Peychaud. The white-coat-clad bartenders can also shake up a frothy delicacy: the Ramos Gin Fizz. The drink, favored by storied Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long, is like cake in a glass. It does, however, require some heavy lifting, so be sure to tip your bartender accordingly.

2. Jewel of the South

Opened by Chris Hannah, one of the city&rsquos most esteemed bartenders (formerly of the French 75 bar), this modern cocktail destination is tucked into a Creole cottage that dates back to the 1830s. It&rsquos named for a restaurant that was opened by Joseph Santini, inventor of the Brandy Crusta. Hannah has revived this largely forgotten but influential drink &mdashit was the first cocktail to incorporate fresh citrus juice&mdashand has made it the bar&rsquos signature offering, alongside skillful interpretations of the classics.

3. Sylvain

Offering house-made ingredients and masterful mixology, Sylvain serves tasty classic cocktails but truly shines when crafting its own inventions. If you&rsquore looking for a complex drink to sip and savor, Sylvain is a must. Though at the forefront of drinking culture, the bar and restaurant exude a historic ambiance given the location in a former carriage house in the heart of the French Quarter.

4. The Avenue Pub

This Uptown beer mecca is worth a pilgrimage, especially if you&rsquore a beer geek or whiskey devotee. The two-story pub on busy St. Charles Avenue houses a world-renowned collection of brews stacked with Belgian-style beers and rarities from around the world, along with specialty ales from Louisiana craft breweries. Connoisseurs will appreciate the bar&rsquos whiskey list, especially the bourbons. The pub&rsquos balcony offers a scenic view of New Orleans&rsquo downtown until late at night, and the first floor remains open 24/7.

5. The Elysian Bar at Hotel Peter and Paul

The Elysian Bar, another venture by the Bacchanal team, opened in the fall of 2018 inside Hotel Peter and Paul and has swiftly drawn acclaim for its lush and original design coupled with a drink menu that features French, Spanish and Italian vermouths, amaros and other aperitif wines, many mixed into cocktails. The space radiates a warm pink glow and forms part of the restoration of a historic church complex in the artsy Marigny neighborhood.

6. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Lafitte&rsquos Blacksmith Shop is a treasure. It&rsquos one of the oldest structures in the city (it survived two major fires!) and is said to be the New Orleans base for privateer brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte. Is it touristy? Yes. Is it haunted? Maybe. And if the outlaw tales aren&rsquot enough to capture your interest, it&rsquos worth visiting to see the building&rsquos French Creole architectural style, briquette-entre-poteaux (brick-between-posts), and enjoy the romantic setting.

Tiki Tolteka

When we’re in New Orleans, it just seems right to indulge in a Hurricane or a Hand Grenade while strolling down Bourbon Street. But are you in the mood for something a bit more exotic and off the beaten path? Tiki Tolteca is a find you need to experience. This tiki bar, which began operation in 2013, is a hidden gem and I mean it can be a challenge to find. The address reads 301 N. Peters, but I entered off Bienville Street through a bright red door.

Making my way up a metal staircase, I soon entered a world of exotic drinks and decor. Tiki Tolteca is located upstairs from sister establishment Felipe’s Taqueria and the blend of Polynesian and Latin abounds in the libations and the atmosphere. At the time Tiki Tolteca was born, there were no other tiki bars in New Orleans and early origins came from a tiki tasting menu at Felipe’s.

The bartenders were asked to come up with original drinks and the tasting event sold out immediately. The owners blended the myths of the Polynesian islands with Peruvian influence and Tiki Tolteca was created. Many of their drinks have a Latin influence, but some of their standards include decades old recipes. Their hurricane in their own creation, but based heavily on the original 1942 Pat O’Brien’s recipe. Their Mai Tai is a solid standard, but they also make a mean Painkiller, based on the original Pusser’s Rum formula.

Many of the drinks are served in vintage tiki barware and the low lights and fun music blend to make one think he or she was in the islands, instead of the French Quarter. When I visited, they were in the early staged of bringing in a tiki food menu. I also watched the bartender prepare 30-40 servings of Mai Tais, in preparation for a cocktail tour to begin. If you’re interested, visit for information on this fun cocktail tour that begins at Tiki Tolteca. Happy hour is from 3-7, Monday through Friday, with $3.00 off drinks.

Chart Room

This corner dive has been serving thirsty NOLA patrons for more than 40 years, and it’s an oasis if you’re looking for a French Quarter spot that isn’t overrun with tourists. The last time we were in the city, we stopped by after dinner for a hefty cup of Fernet that we nursed while walking to our next destination. “Everybody knows everybody and they pour nice pours,” says Crystal Pavlas, head bartender at Bywater American Bistro. Chart Room is the kind of bar that can make you feel at home, even if it’s your first time in New Orleans.

The next time you’re planning a game night, head to Half Moon. In addition to trivia nights, Skee-Ball and billiards, the bar also offers reasonably priced drinks and a food menu that is sure to hit the spot. Think fish and chips, half-pound burgers, and spicy buffalo wings.

ice coffee shenanigan #Nola

A photo posted by Brieanna Boss (@breezycheese) on Mar 5, 2016 at 4:46pm PST

Irish bar Erin Rose, located in the French Quarter, has been around since the 1950’s. You can expect a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, along with a drink menu that features a Bloody Mary made with the bar’s secret recipe and ten-dollar beer buckets during any Saints football game.

Watch the video: 10S KAPSOURA MIX. PART1 (October 2022).