New Orleans is a drinking town. After all, this is the birthplace of the cocktail and home of the once bustling Storyville. The city’s history with libations and the fun-loving attitude of the locals create a concoction that’s ripe for good times. Whether you’re looking for a dive bar to enjoy cheap drinks with the locals or a fancy new wine bar, you are certain to find a fantastic locale. Yet with so many watering holes from which to choose, planning your next night out can be a bit overwhelming. Let this guide lead the way to the best boîtes New Orleans has to offer.
New Orleans is the birthplace of many of the world’s favorite cocktails. Henry Ramos is credited with creating the Ramos Gin Fizz in 1888; the Absinthe Frappe was born in the legendary Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street; and an old New Orleans apothecary was the originator of the Sazerac.
“Café Brulot Diabolique” was created at Antoine’s Restaurant in the 1880s, and combines coffee, sugar and Cognac, which is set alight for a showy end to any New Orleans celebratory meal.
Manning’s Sports Bar and Grill
With more than 30 flat screen TVs, two 13-foot mega-screens, and a recliner dining section, Manning’s is the epitome of a sports bar. Here you’ll find 24 beers on tap and a menu of sandwiches, burgers and wraps. The appetizer selection includes catfish tenders, wings blue crab deviled eggs and MVP loaded fries. 519 Fulton St., 593-8118, caesars.com.
Mid-City Yacht Club
A friend of the bar owners, Mark Melan, once joked while riding in his pirogue after Hurricane Katrina that, “They should name that place the Mid-City Yacht Club.” So when Ben Markey and his wife Stefanie bought the bar in 2006, that’s the name they used. MCYC has the NFL Sunday ticket, 15 TVs and five different zones for sound. Saturday college games also take center stage as MCYC has the ability to show almost any game. 440 S. St. Patrick St., 483-2517, midcityyachtclub.com.
American Sports Saloon
American Sports Saloon welcomes fans of every team with a stadium-like experience for every game. The bar also throws parties for events such as the Emmys, the Oscars, the Kentucky Derby and the Westminster Dog Show. The menu features salads, sandwiches and burgers, plus small plates like the crawfish dip dog. 1200 Decatur St., 300-1782, theamericansportssaloon.com.
Known by locals simply as The Nail, this small, friendly bar has grown considerably over the years. An urban oasis, the dog-friendly patio is surrounded by lush greenery and is the perfect spot to pull up a chair, order a beer and watch the game. We love the location where the Warehouse District meets the Lower Garden District. 1100 Constance St., 525-5515, rustynailnola.com.
Also Check Out:
Cooter Brown’s Tavern: 509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104, cooterbrowns.com
The District: 711 Tchoupitoulas St., 301-1476, districtnola.com.
A cozy neighborhood bar located in the French Quarter, Longway Tavern features an open-air courtyard and a menu offering creative twists on nostalgic tavern fare. Small plates include options such as anchovies, chicken liver mousse and squash pancake, while the large plates include items like pork belly salad, a steak sandwich and caviar service (with bowfin roe, prosciutto and potato beignets). While you’re here, be sure to ask about the history of the place and how it ties into the decor. 719 Toulouse St., 962-9696, longwaytavern.com.
This Irish pub is a great spot for Irish whiskies of all kinds, top-notch Bloody Marys and, of course, a frozen Irish coffee. In the back, you’ll find an outpost for “Killer Po-Boys.” The food is true to its name with options such as the “Dark & Stormy” pork belly poor boy and the black beer beef debris poor boy. Pair it with a Guinness on tap or a local beer from Abita, Tin Roof, Dixie or Urban South. 811 Conti St., 522-3573, erinrosebar.com.
The Carousel Bar & Lounge
The Carousel Bar, which opened inside the historic Hotel Monteleone in 1949, celebrated its 70th anniversary in September. In addition to the rotating “carousel” bar, which takes 15 minutes for one trip around, the Carousel Bar boasts what may be the best Pimm’s Cup in the city, as well as live music and bar bites like shrimp pot stickers, mini Monte poor boys and a Cuban sammy. 214 Royal St., 523-3341, hotelmonteleone.com.
Located in the Warehouse District, Briquette is housed in the former Rodd Brothers Molasses Refinery. The contemporary and casual restaurant and bar features an open kitchen with an 18-foot seafood display. Choose from fresh branzino, halibut, Faroe Island salmon, redfish and many other fresh whole fish. Coastal dishes like “Snapper Pontchartrain” and Louisiana redfish, as well as the pretty cocktails, also impress. Briquette gets its name from the red-hot coals over which the fish is prepared. The friendly bar staff make dining at the bar (or waiting for your table) much more palatable. 701 S Peters St., 302-7496, briquette-nola.com.
Also Check Out:
Copper Vine: 1001 Poydras St., 208-9535, coppervinewine.com
Bar Frances: 4525 Freret St., 371-5043, barfrances.com.
The Hurricane, a rum-soaked staple of visitors to Pat O’Brien’s, was created during World War II when whiskey was scarce. The name comes from the distinctive shape of the glass in which it is served.
Best Bars for Live Music
House of Blues
This restaurant and bar—and live music venue—plays host to a full bar of hand crafted specialty cocktails, a menu of Southern-inspired favorites and live performances several times per month. Members of the Foundation Room upstairs also can enjoy more private performances, along with killer drinks and upscale bar bites. Upcoming shows include Jonny Lang (Jan. 23) and Wishbone Ash (Feb. 19). 225 Decatur St., 310-4999, houseofblues.com.
So named after the song “Tipitina” by performer, composer and pianist Professor Longhair, Tipitina’s opened in 1977 and has remained a staple on the New Orleans music scene. Notable performers have graced Tipitina’s stage, such as Dr. John, Lenny Kravitz, James Brown and Pearl Jam. Members of the local band Galactic purchased the bar in 2018. Upcoming shows include Billy Strings (Jan. 24) and Perpetual Groove (Jan. 31). 501 Napoleon Ave., 895-8477, tipitinas.com.
Blue Nile is a premiere New Orleans music club that gave birth to the music culture on Frenchmen Street. Bands have included countless top funk, blues, soul and brass shows, featuring local, national and international acts. In addition to the main space, Blue Nile also features a balcony room where other performances take place. Be sure to catch Marco Benevento on Jan. 18. 532 Frenchmen St., 766-6193, bluenilelive.com.
The Spotted Cat Music Club
Located in the heart of Faubourg Marigny, The Spotted Cat is the quintessential jazz club of New Orleans. The small and intimate space plays host to local New Orleans musicians ranging from traditional and modern jazz to blues, funk, klezmer and more. We love stopping here before dinner at Adolfo’s (located above the Apple Barrel). Upcoming headliners include the Jumbo Shrimp (Jan. 30) and Shake’em Up Jazz Band (Feb. 21). 623 Frenchmen St., 943-3887, spottedcatmusicclub.com.
Also Check Out:
d.b.a: 618 Frenchmen St., 942-3731, dbaneworleans.com
Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub: 733 Bourbon St., 586-4800, fritzelsjazz.net.
This vibrant restaurant and bar that borders the French Quarter features a menu of French-influenced cuisine and cocktails that reflect NOLA’s influence on classic cocktails. Meauxbar also offers many small production (yet accessible) wines. Daily happy hour takes place from 4-6 p.m. with a selection of $5 glasses of wine and cocktails, plus snacks like frites and aioli ($4) and smoked fish rillettes ($7). 942 N. Rampart St., 569-9979, meauxbar.com.
Housed in a former corner grocery store, The Franklin embraces the French Quarter’s eclectic personality with a thoughtful and fun art collection. The elevated yet casual culinary and bar experience includes a daily happy hour from 5-7 p.m. with options like a house martini ($6) and a daily selection of oysters (six for $12). 2600 Dauphine St., 267-0640, thefranklinnola.com.
The Delachaise Wine Bar
The Delachaise, an Uptown neighborhood wine bar and bistro, offers more than 350 wines (with 36 selections less than $36), a full top shelf bar and top-notch cuisine like Thai moules frites, salmon Johnny cakes and housemate paté. This is also a local go-to for date night, so get your honey and make a night of it. Happy Hour takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12-3 p.m. 3442 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858, thedelachaise.com.
This new cocktail bar and lounge housed in the former City Hall law library at Maison de la Luz—the new luxury guest house by creative studio Atelier Ace—beckons with sultry design elements and an elevated beverage program developed by Joshua Fontaine, Adam Tsou and Carina Soto Velasquez. The first-ever U.S. project by Quixotic Projects, the France-based hospitality group behind acclaimed Parisian venues like Glass and Hero, offers a daily apéritif hour with food and beverage specials from 2-6 p.m. Friday through Sunday and 4-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Try the “Tropical Thunder” cocktail ($15) and the gougères aux époisses, aka cheese puffs ($14). 544 Carondelet St., 814-7711, barmarilou.com.
Also Check Out:
The Country Club: 634 Louisa St., 945-0742, thecountryclubneworleans.com
Hermes Bar at Antoine’s: 725 St. Louis St., 581-4422, antoines.com
Best Cocktail Bars
Belle Époque Absinthe Lounge
A new absinthe lounge has opened in the heart of the French Quarter as an extension of the popular historic watering hole, The Old Absinthe House. The clandestine cocktail lounge features an original bar and marble absinthe fountains, acquired by the Old Absinthe House in 1871, which have been restored to their former grandeur. In addition to offering a world of history within its walls, Belle Époque features interior design by Sylvia Thompson Dias and a menu of small plates by Executive Chef Hayley Vanvleet (formerly of Peche, Cochon Butcher and Gris Gris). Bar director Laura Bellucci (formerly of SoBou) has developed a cocktail menu that is both exotic and approachable. 240 Bourbon St., 523-4640, ruebourbon.com/belle-epoque.
Revel Café & Bar
It’s hard to find a better craft cocktail than at Revel in Mid-City. Helmed by famed bartender and co-founder of The Museum of the American Cocktail, Chris McMillian, Revel offers classic New Orleans cocktails, house concoctions, vintage libations and a food menu of bar snacks, small plates, salads, sandwiches, platters and entrees. Try the Ploughman’s Lunch, featuring a rotating selection of salami and sausages with Cahill’s Irish Whisky Cheddar and Ubriaco Drunken Goat cheese, marinated olives, Creole mustard and house focaccia, and pair it with French 75 or a Sazerac. Then let McMillian tell you a drink-themed poem. 133 N. Carrollton Ave., 309-6122, revelcafeandbar.com.
This firehouse-turned-dimly-lit-cocktail-lounge won the 2018 James Beard Award for outstanding cocktail program. And it’s no wonder with cocktails like the “Stardust,” a local twist on a daiquiri with notes of citrus, chamomile and Caribbean spices. The food menu also shines with items like baked goat cheese, bruschetta, and cheese and charcuterie. No matter how many times you go to Cure, the cocktails will definitely keep you coming back. 4905 Freret St., 302-2357, curenola.com.
Located within The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, this historic bar blends a cool ambience with classic cocktails and modern concoctions. Named after the world’s first mixed drink, The Sazerac Bar features murals by Paul Ninas, a walnut bar with elegant bar stools and plush banquettes. It was even named the No. 1 hotel bar in the United States by voters in the 2019 USAToday 10 Best poll. 130 Roosevelt Way, 648-1200, therooseveltneworleans.com.
Cane & Table
Offering proto-tiki cocktails and rustic colonial cuisine, Cane & Table features a cozy interior and an outdoor courtyard perfect for a night out. Try the “Flowering Wasp,” a cold weather Whiskey sour with island spices, mission figs, fresh ginger and apple brandy. The wine list only includes wines that have been sustainably, organically or biodynamically farmed. The food here also is simply stellar. 1113 Decatur St., 581-1112, caneandtablenola.com.
The Elysian Bar
Located in the former rectory at the Hotel Peter & Paul, The Elysian Bar was recently named one of America’s Best New Restaurants by Bon Appetit Magazine. Chef Alex Harrell and the team behind NOLA’s beloved Bacchanal have created a gorgeous space in which to imbibe. The bar focuses on Old World wines, many of which are sourced from small producers, as well as handcrafted cocktails. Try the “Parisian Mai Tai,” made with aged rum, Smith & Cross rum, elderflower, lime and housemade orgeat. 2317 Burgundy St., 356-6769, theelysianbar.com.
Also Check Out:
Barrel Proof: 1201 Magazine St., barrelproofnola.com
Jewel of the South: 1026 St. Louis St., 265-8816, jewelnola.com
Napoleon House: 500 Chartres St., 524-9752, Napoleonhouse.com
Best Beer Bars
With two locations—one Uptown and one in Mid-City—The Bulldog is a beer-lover’s haven. The Magazine Street location features 48 craft and local beers on tap (and more than 100 bottled beers), while the Mid-City location offers 61 craft and local beers on tap (and 90 bottled beers). Both locations boast large, dog-friendly patios and big-screen TVs. 3236 Magazine St., 891-1516, bulldog.draftfreak.com; 5135 Canal Blvd., 488-4180, bulldog-midcity.draftfreak.com.
Bayou Beer Garden
As its name suggests, Bayou Beer Garden is a mecca for beer fans. The 15 beer taps feature everything from American wild ales and wheat beers to gose and porters. Try the Nightmare on Brett, and American wild ale aged in Leopold Bros. whiskey barrels. And with a bridge that connects the deck of Bayou Beer Garden to the courtyard of Bayou Wine Garden, there’s something to keep everyone happy. 326 N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy., 302-9357, bayoubeergarden.com.
Freret Beer Room
A gastropub located on bustling Freret Street, this bar opened in 2016 to offer exceptional craft beer alongside delicious comfort food. The carefully curated selection of beer is presented according to flavor profile, with everything from cider and IPAs to the Milk Stout Nitro. The venue itself provides a pretty place to sip on a few glasses of suds. 5018 Freret St., 298-7468, freretbeerroom.com.
Wrong Iron on the Greenway
A New Orleans-style beer garden with food trucks, Wrong Iron on the Greenway is a new bar located in the heart of Mid-City offering 50 beers, 10 wines, five cocktails and four frozen drinks all on tap. There’s also a large, dog-friendly patio and 60 bike parking spaces. It’s a no-brainer to add this bar to your list on sunny days. 3532 Toulouse St., 302-0528, wrongiron.com
Also Check Out:
Courtyard Brewery: 1020 Erato St., courtyardbrewing.com
Parleaux Beer Lab: 634 Lesseps St., 702-8433, parleauxbeerlab.com.
Best Wine Bars
Claret Wine & Cocktail Bar
With a gorgeous interior and a spacious outdoor patio, Claret is a welcome new wine bar in the Framework building on Magazine Street. The extensive wine list is affordable, and the menu by Chef Marcus Woodham spotlights cheese and charcuterie, and small plates like tuna tartare and smoked tuna dip. 1320 Magazine St., 766-9425, claretnola.com.
Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits
Mediterranean living, New Orleans style is the order of the day at Bacchanal. This two-story wine and cheese store features globally accented small plates and live music on a large back patio. Wine lovers will love Bacchanal’s focus on Old World-style wines from smaller producers that reflect their terroir. Choose a bottle and a seat; then kick back and relax. 600 Poland Ave., 948-9111, bacchanalwine.com.
Enjoy coffee, beignets, wine, bubbles and bites at The Vintage, a new bar on Magazine Street. The vibe here is laid-back yet elegant; the decor is stunning; and the late-night menu with beignet bites and two glasses of Cava for $11 is a steal. 3121 Magazine St., 324-7144, thevintagenola.com
Effervescence Bubbles & Bites
An elegant Champagne bar offering chef-inspired shared plates, bubbles by the glass and bottle, bubbly flights, sparkling wine cocktails, still wine and beer. It’s a must-visit for anyone of the Champagne and wine persuasion. 1036 N. Rampart St., 509-7644, nolabubbles.com.
Also Check Out:
Bouligny Tavern: 3641 Magazine St., 891-1810, boulignytavern.com
The Domino: 3044 St. Claude Ave., 354-8737, dominola.com
Harry’s Corner Bar
This bar is a favorite hangout for locals. It’s a quiet reprieve from the hustle and bustle of other French Quarter bars. It’s cash only and no frills, but the friendly bartenders make the cheap drinks just that much better. You’ll be making new friends in no time, so enjoy the company. 900 Chartres St., 524-1107.
Claire’s Pour House
Located in the heart of the French Quarter on Decatur Street, Claire’s Pour House is a great spot to stop before dinner, prior to a show next door at the House of Blues, late night or really any time of day. While we’re sad they no longer offer the vodka-soaked gummy worms, we love finding the lovely Claire sitting at the bar. The jukebox also is pretty phenomenal. 233 Decatur St., 558-8980.
St. Roch Tavern
St. Roch Tavern is a longstanding local dive bar serving up cheap drinks, good food and lively music. In terms of neighborhood hangouts, this one is a local favorite. 1200 St. Roch Ave., 945-0194.
The Saint Bar & Lounge
This nondescript bar in the Lower Garden District hosts live music, and the dancing here can’t be beat. The cave-like atmosphere, the secluded courtyard and the cheap drinks combine to create a rollicking good time. 961 St. Mary St., 523-0050, thesaintneworleans.com.
Also Check Out:
Mimi’s In The Marigny: 2601 Royal St., 872-9868, mimismarigny.com
The Kingpin: 1307 Lyons St., 891-2373
Tubby’s Golden Lantern
This cash-only gay bar offers draught beer, cocktails and drag shows in a cozy, brick-lined space. Golden Lantern is ground zero for Decadence, but this dog-friendly spot also is popular year-round. 1239 Royal St., 529-2860.
One of the only gay bars in Uptown, QiQi is a neighborhood bar that exudes Southern hospitality and charm. Grab a seat at one of the outdoor picnic tables on a nice day. They also have daily pop-ups so you can always find a good bite to eat. 1515 Aline St., 427-6693.
Good Friends Bar
Boasting a Victorian-styled upstairs with a balcony, Good Friends Bar is a beacon for the LGBTQ community. Belly up to the mahogany bar and enjoy the view. Also be sure to check out Kocktail Karaoke on Tuesday nights. 740 Dauphine St., 566-7191, goodfriendsbar.com.
A staple gay bar in the French Quarter, the two-story Oz is a 24/7 dance club with DJs, drag shows, go-go dancers and a balcony. Weekly events include Comedy Cabaret, Video Happy Hour and Drag Dingo. 800 Bourbon St., 593-9491, ozneworleans.com.
Also Check Out:
700 Club: 700 Burgundy St., 561-1095, 700nola.com
Phoenix Bar: 941 Elysian Fields Ave., 945-9264, phoenixbarnola.com.