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The eight essential New Orleans cocktails, and the best places to find them

Of all the cultural contributions bestowed upon the world by the city of New Orleans, perhaps none is as significant as the cocktail (though we’re pretty proud of jazz, po-boys, and the Higgins landing craft, too). With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the greatest & most iconic mixeds the Big Easy has produced, as well as the best places to score them...

Scott Gold
1) The Sazerac
It’s the first cocktail in American history -- a delicate balance of whiskey, bitters, and sugar served straight up in a chilled, absinthe-laced rocks glass with a lemon twist -- and it’s still one of the best. There are really only two versions of this concoction: a Sazerac, and a bad Sazerac. Any self-respecting New Orleans bartender should be able to make one properly, but if you want the original, you obviously need to head to the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel.
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2) The Hurricane
This was invented by Pat O’Brien at his namesake bar in the 1940’s as a way to dispose of all the rum that liquor distributors forced him to buy to get at the more popular scotch and bourbon. Pat’s is the original, albeit on the sweet side. For a fresh version of the classic, made with real passion fruit juice, make your way Felipe’s Taqueria in the Quarter (also: tacos!).
Scott Gold
3) Arnaud's French 75
It’s difficult to go wrong ordering a drink that bears the name of the bar that serves it; Arnaud’s, home of the French 75 Bar, has been fixing up their mix of cognac, citrus, and champagne for the better part of a century, currently under the direction of master mixologist Chris Hannah.
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4) The Ramos Gin Fizz
A properly executed Ramos Gin Fizz means at least a solid 10-12min of vigorous shaking & whipping to get the mixture of gin, citrus, orange flower water, egg whites, sugar, and cream into a perfect, foamy, intoxicating tongue-joyride. Invented by Henry Ramos in 1888 and favored by none other than Huey P. Long, it was popularized at the Roosevelt Hotel, where you can still find a great one today. One of the better modern incarnations comes from famed mixologist Paul Gusting, formerly at Tujagues, and soon enough behind the bar at the renovated Broussard’s restaurant when they re-open.
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5) Pimm's Cup
It may be served in a glass, but the Pimms Cup's famed deliciousness and refreshing nature is no lie. The most well known version is at the Napoleon House, which is always a treat, but you can find an awesome variation (served in a wine goblet and filled with seasonal berries) at Kingfish.
Scott Gold
6) Frozen Daiquiri
Being in NOLA means you're inevitably going to have a frozen daiquiri at some point. Not all fro-daiqs are created equal, however; the slushie joints along Bourbon St. and its environs tend to load theirs up with sugar, which we all know leads to a soul-crushing hangover, so for fresh fruit juice versions, hit up St. Lawrence, or Booty’s Street Food in the Bywater.
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7) Milk Punch
Frequently beating out the Bloody as the Sunday brunch cocktail of choice, the brandy/bourbon milk punch currently comes in its most perfect form at the Bourbon House.
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8) Vieux Carré
The term “Vieux Carré” isn’t just French for "Old Square"; it’s also the name of one New Orleans’ best classic cocktails, a potent rye/benedictine/bitters/vermouth-combo that's kissing cousins with the Old Fashioned & the Manhattan. You'll find it in most decent French Quarter bars and restos (most notably the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone), but don’t miss the barrel-aged version (made with 125-proof white rye!) at SoBou, courtesy of bar chef Abigail Gullo.
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1. Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel 123 Baronne Street,, New Orleans, 70112

Renowned for teaching northerners how to drink a gin fizz, Sazerac Bar recreates old southern charm with elegant wood and pincushion furniture, and has a knack for hand-crafted cocktails. A favorite of Huey P Long, Sazerac still serves its former charismatic governor's old standby, the Ramos Gin Fizz, along with 20 other creative 'tails.

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2. Felipe's Taqueria 301 N Peters St (at Bienville), New Orleans, 70130

Serving authentic Mexican fare and Latin American craft cocktails, Felipe's is a favorite among tourists and locals. Their cocktail list keeps expanding; from the Mezcal Flight to the El Presidente, the cocktails are hand-crafted with house-made liquors, bitters, and fresh fruit.

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3. Arnaud's French 75 Bar 813 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70112

Originally designated as a "gentlemen only area" in NOLA's early days, this cocktail bar located within Arnaud's Restaurant features cocktails like the Pisco Derby (that's pisco, lavender honey syrup, lime, and grapefruit) and bar snacks like Oysters en Brochette (translation: oysters wrapped with bacon and deep fried).

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4. Tujague's 823 Decatur St, New Orleans, 70116

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Tujague's is the second oldest restaurant in NOLA, and their staying power is reflected in their extensive old-school menu that focuses around traditional Creole fare.

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5. Broussard's Restaurant & Courtyard 819 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70112

This resto plates seafood, a variety of savory meat options, and a number of vegetarian dishes, while offering an extensive wine list in an upscale and picturesque setting. It is also features the Empire Bar, which is run by notable mixologist Paul Gustings, who makes some of the best drinks in the city.

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6. Napoleon House Bar & Cafe 500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Family-owned and operated since 1914, the Napoleon House Bar & Cafe offers an experience that can only be had in New Orleans. The restaurant serves traditional dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and muffaletta; be sure to stop at the bar and enjoy a refreshing Pimms Cup -- it's the house specialty!

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7. Kingfish 337 Chartres, New Orleans, LA 70130

Located on the corner of Chartres and Conti, Kingfish is an upscale Creole kitchen and cocktail establishment that has received accolades for both their food and drinks.

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8. St. Lawrence 219 N Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130

This French Quarter bar and resto is all about fresh and regional produce, serving up local craft beers on tap and frozen cocktails like Pimm's Cup daiquiris and Louisiana Muscadine White Sangria.

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9. Booty's Street Food 800 Louisa St, New Orleans, LA 70117

Booty's serves up affordable street food from around the globe, concocts a variety of specialty cocktails, and brews Stumptown Coffee in a pleasant ambiance.

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10. Bourbon House 144 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Bourbon House serves up fresh seasonal seafood using only local ingredients and offers an oyster bar and a number of single-batch bourbons in a lively but relaxing environment.

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11. Hotel Monteleone 214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The 50-suite Hotel Monteleone's a 19th-century Royal St landmark. The suites are capped with a 24-hour fitness center, spa, and heated rooftop pool, and night-capped by the haunted lobby's historic revolving Carousel Bar.

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12. SoBou 310 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

This spirited restaurant south of Bourbon St (hence the name) is a modern-day Creole saloon, serving up creative riffs on traditional 'tails, bar snacks like crispy pork skin & spicy beer nuts, and 25 cent martinis (limit three per person… 'cause that's definitely enough).

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