You don’t have to go to a bar or lounge to find some of the finest bartenders and mixologists in our city. New Orleans is teaming with a slew of young, talented cocktailians and chefs that together are creating some of the finest dining experiences the city has to offer. At these restaurants you’ll want to forego the wine list and order a cocktail with your meal instead.

It is all about fun and whimsy at the newly opened Tivoli & Lee in the Hotel Modern. You may recall it as the former Tamarind, which closed in 2012 and morphed into a much talked about farm-to-table pop-up, Why Not, run by young chef Mike Nirenberg, who used that opportunity to build a contemporary Southern menu that you’ll now find at Tivoli & Lee. Nirenberg works closely with Holly Grove and Two Run Farms, transforming locally sourced produce and meats into his shareable signature dishes such as Hoison-glazed pork belly sliders with coleslaw and Brussel sprouts adorning a fiery and sweet pepper jelly. Androille Tots, yes, massive tatertots, stuffed with manchego cheese, deep fried and served with a green onion crema are, in fact, the perfect accompaniment to mixologist Kimberly Patton Bragg’s wild and creative cocktails. While Bragg makes a bevy of “forgotten classics” and original whiskey libations, her full cocktail list reveals a wealth of spirits and housemade tinctures that are all worth exploring. On a Thai-spiced Pisco Sour she bedazzles the foam with stenciled seahorses. For brunch, she creates a housemade boozy cereal milk that puts to shame the traditional Brandy Milk Punch. Her funky approach to cocktails is welcome at this new restaurant, which has redone their interior in a dark navy Flavor Paper featuring New Orleans icons such as Ellen DeGeneres and Satchmo riding carousel horses, dark banquettes and a large communal table in the center of the mezzanine. Eat and drink here, then mosey to Bellocq next door for a cobbler nightcap. Whether or not you eat and drink enough to have to spend the night at the Hotel Modern is between you and the lobby’s parrot.

La Fin Du Monde, a new Irish Channel restaurant located in the former Café Rani space, is a choice spot for daytime noshing and enjoying craft cocktails. Justus Jagger, a partner in the ever-popular Bar Tonique and Serendipity, opened the restaurant at the beginning of the year and, while they do serve dinner, it’s gaining popularity as a favorite brunch and lunch destination. Challah French Toast and shrimp and grits are sure bets, and the BLT comes on the most decadent and buttery brioche, but chef Jonathan Lestingi’s Asian-inspired dishes are the ones that truly shine. His housemade kimchee delights on its own, alongside charcuterie or tucked inside lettuce wraps with a succulent pork belly. At the bar you’ll find equal amounts of promising innovation; take for instance the brunch staple: the Bloody Mary. Here it’s made with La Fin Du Monde’s own bacon-infused vodka and garnished with pickled mirliton and okra, with house-smoked bacon. Mixologist Geoffrey Wilson’s breakfast cocktail, featuring rye whiskey, maple syrup and egg, is itself a hearty and frothy first-course (also garnished with bacon) perfect for an all-day brunch affair, which is good, because La Fin Du Monde serves brunch seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (and until 4 p.m. on Sundays).

The new incarnation of Dominique’s on Magazine, home to celebrated bartender Ian Julian (who has appeared in GQ) and chef Dominique Macquet is as impressive as fine-dining establishments come. Macquet is still up to all his tricks, from wispy cotton candy lagniappe to the dainty lobster and celery root salad, all of which exude the effortlessness found in his former restaurants and which you would expect upon walking into the immaculate new restaurant, which features fascinating artwork and a light-drenched courtyard dining out back. Julian’s exotic, original cocktails are a must-try. For the adventurous, the Pho Cajun Sour features Julian’s housemade pho syrup – basically a reduction of beef pho broth – cilantro, green onions, ginger, lime and a habanero salt simple syrup. It doesn’t sound so simple, but all the painstaking work pays off with this cocktail and the restaurant.

Tivoli & Lee | 936 St. Charles Ave. | Hotel Modern | 962-0909 |
La Fin du Monde | 2917 Magazine St. | 218-4088 |
Dominique’s on Magazine | 4213 Magazine St. | 891-9282
Twelve Mile Limit |  500 S. Telemachus St. | 488-8114

The Shortall’s BBQ pop-up inside Mid-City cocktail dive Twelve Mile Limit does Saturday and Sunday brunch with barbecue, frittatas, build your own biscuits and more, served alongside T. Cole Newton’s innovative (and not too expensive) craft cocktails.