Drink in History at the Absolute Best Bars in New Orleans
From divey neighborhood joints to swanky cocktail lounges, here’s where to grab a drink in New Orleans.
New Orleans is the birthplace of the cocktail, and given the city’s dedication to good times, it’s no wonder there are countless noteworthy bars around the city. Tourists may flock to Bourbon Street for sticky-sweet, high octane concoctions served in fishbowls or other oversized vessels, but there’s a world beyond that nightlife stretch, from the French Quarter to Uptown and everywhere in between.
The best bars in New Orleans serve up the must-try classics—like the Sazerac, Old Fashioned, Ramos Gin Fizz, and Brandy Milk Punch, to name a few—as well as innovative offerings from top mixologists and cold beers. Many of the best restaurants in New Orleans have award-winning wine programs, and the offerings have spilled over to a handful of top-notch wine bars. Beer aficionados will not be disappointed by the range of breweries around the city, many brewing with local ingredients. But it’s the bars, both historic and modern, that have garnered loyal followings and nationwide recognition. Check out these boozy destinations for a sampling of the best of the drinking scene, and soak in the city’s storied history as you sip the night away (and you’ll have plenty of options for brunch if you need a pick-me-up the next morning).
This renovated bi-level 19th century bank building has been recently retrofitted with a bar on each floor, a pool table, and a killer jukebox to boot. Backing a perfect neighborhood bar with drinks as delicious as they are strong, Anna herself has been crafting cocktails in the Crescent City for almost a decade and wants to keep this cool corner of the Marigny as welcoming and exciting as it's always been. Pop in every night of the week for endless good vibes until the wee hours of the morning.
Arnaud's French 75 Bar
The James Beard Award-winning bar attached to Arnaud’s, the century-old Creole restaurant, is a step back in time. The space is classy, dark, and intimate, with vintage decor that evokes an upscale private club, but the vibe is decidedly welcoming. Expert bartenders can prepare classics like an Old Fashioned, Sidecar, or the famed French 75. Snack on some souffle potatoes, an Arnaud’s specialty, and make time for a visit to the eclectic Mardi Gras museum located upstairs.
This is simply the weirdest and most wonderful wine bar in the world. Enter the unassuming spot through what looks like a perfectly normal wine shop. But once you’re in, it's like stepping into an entirely different dimension. Pick up a hearty Cab or crispy Pilsner—at retail, not restaurant prices—and tote it outside into the courtyard where live music plays every night of the year. It bills itself as the city’s “backyard party,” and definitely lives up to that hype.
The Bakery Bar serves up doberge alongside creative cocktails and a standout beer and wine selection. (For the uninitiated, doberge is a classic New Orleans cake involving many layers slapped together with custard then covered in icing.) Over the years, it’s also developed a solid bar menu that’s equally worth a try—the Biscuit Board and Trash Fries look mighty tempting.
One of the city’s premier date spots is known for its over-the-top boudoir decor and exceptionally creative cocktails. There's a noted speakeasy vibe (it’s separated from the adjoining Maison de la Luz hotel by a false bookcase door) and everywhere you look is lush, sultry, and downright seductive. The menu features fancy small plates and thoughtful cocktails, and the bar regularly hosts live music—called “listening affairs”—to complete the swanky vibe.
How to book: Via SevenRooms
Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29
Open since 2014, Latitude 29 swaps traditional New Orleans tipples (Sazeracs, Brandy Milk Punch, Grasshoppers) for ornately festive and fruity concoctions rife with island vibes. Owner Jeff “Beachbum” Berry wanted to augment the city’s proximity to the tropics and opened this bar to cement that connection—and serve crazy-cool (and crazy strong) mixed wonders like the Navy Grog and the Suffering Bastard.
Cane & Table
The unassuming entrance to this spot on Decatur takes you into a world that evokes Old Havana, with aged brick walls and a lush courtyard tucked away in the back. The connection between New Orleans and the Caribbean is clear, even before you dive into the festive cocktail menu’s thoughtfully crafted tropical drinks. Find fresh takes on tiki standards, classic cocktails with a twist, and refreshing, rum-based beverages. A Caribbean-inspired menu from the kitchen changes daily.
The famed Hotel Monteleone—a favorite of literary icons including Anne Rice, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner—is home to the equally famous and unique Carousel Bar. Seats are decorated with monkeys, tigers, and other circus animals, and rotate ever so slowly around the bar, where skilled bartenders prepare classic cocktails as you spin. Be sure to try the Vieux Carre cocktail, created here. The adjacent room features live music, and if you’re hungry you can head right over to Criollo, the adjoining restaurant.
The centerpiece of the glamorous lobby bar at the Four Seasons New Orleans is the stunning chandelier hanging high above the action. Enjoy exceptional versions of classic New Orleans cocktails and inventive seasonal offerings—this is a classy spot designed for celebration and a splurge. Indulge in Champagne and caviar or choose from a selection of creative shareable plates by local favorite chef Alon Shaya.
In a prime spot on St. Charles Avenue, this Victorian-era mansion that was transformed into a stylish boutique hotel welcomes the public to enjoy drinks at the elegant bar. Sit on the porch at The Chloe and watch as the streetcars roll by, or soak up the neo-Victorian vibes inside. You can also hang out by the pool with a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine. The pool bar occasionally presents live music sessions, and pool passes are available for swimming in the summer.
This landmark St. Charles Avenue Hotel is steeped in history, and its elegant spirit transcends eras. The large porch offers prime viewing of the grand avenue, while inside the Italianate mansion you’ll find multiple parlors with options ranging from dark, intimate nooks to seats at the bar. Sip a classic cocktail and gaze up at the grand mahogany staircase or peruse the various rooms and their historic elements. Small plates and shareables are available for snacking.
The Crown & Anchor
Hop on the ferry to Algiers Point and head to this English pub for something a little different. Step through a Dr. Who-inspired police box to enter the homey and welcoming corner tavern where old photos and steins hang from the walls and rafters. Grab a pint or two and chat with the regulars or find a spot at one of the outdoor picnic tables where pop-up vendors sling everything from burgers to barbecue.
One of the city’s first modern craft cocktail bars, Cure was a trailblazer when it opened on Freret Street in 2009. Here you’ll find high-caliber, daring, and carefully composed cocktails, both original recipes and classics. The renovated former fire station features a display of its gleaming bottle collection across five long shelves stretching over 14 feet high, a truly impressive sight. The ambiance inside is perfect for a quiet round of drinks and a delightfully composed charcuterie plate, or check out the breezy patio.
Housed in a former rectory as part of the Hotel Peter and Paul, this bar’s stunning restoration feels simultaneously sophisticated and homey. The religious iconography is a nod to its previous life, and the light casts a golden glow for added ambiance. Believe us when we say that sipping a low-proof aperitivo cocktail outside on a warm autumn evening is nothing short of a transcendent experience here.
Erin Rose feels like a real locals' joint, with simple-yet-potent beverages and one of the best Bloody Marys in town. On a hot day (okay, basically everyday), there’s nothing better than this standby’s signature Frozen Irish Coffee. Don’t trust us? Stop in and see for yourself—the inevitable brain freeze is 100% worth it.
Finn McCool's Irish Pub
Finn’s is not only the city’s preeminent Irish pub and sports bar, it’s also the definition of a neighborhood bar. All are welcome to join regular patrons for cold beers, cocktails, darts, and pool. Crowds spill out onto the sidewalk for international soccer and rugby matches as well as Saints games, always resulting in good times whatever the outcome. The bar’s tight-knit community has supported the venue—and the neighborhood—through thick and thin since it opened in 2002. The back kitchen serves up crowd-pleasing pub fare to fuel the fun.
Jewel Of The South
This love letter to (very) old New Orleans was inspired by Joseph Santini, a barkeep who owned a tavern of the same name in the mid-19th century. Jewel of the South also honors Santini’s contribution to the New Orleans cocktail canon: the Brandy Crusta. In addition to the Crusta, other classics are tweaked ever so slightly by co-owners Chris Hannah and Nick Detrich. The elegant 1850s-era Creole cottage has a lovely back patio that makes for a classy, even romantic hideaway in the Quarter, and chef Phil Whitmarsh has won plaudits for his ever-changing menu of seasonal fare.
A cheerful, tiny spot cranking out the flavors of Cuba, Manolito is named for Manuel Carbajo Aguilar, a longtime bartender at Havana’s famed Floridita Bar. Pop in if there’s room, or take a spin around Jackson Square until a spot frees up. The menu features cocktails prepped in various ways: blended, shaken, or thrown, plus effervescent and classic options. Try the frozen Jazz Daiquiri, richly flavored and textured with the blended addition of whole coffee beans and granulated sugar, or the Papa Doble, a frozen version of the classic Hemingway daiquiri, and supplement your drinks with tasty Cuban bites.
Out In The Cold
Located in the heart of the Irish Channel, this beloved neighborhood dive comes correct with a fun, witty vibe (seriously, peep their Instagram). It’s easy to miss—at least they have a sign now, a recent and much-appreciated addition—but once you discover it, prepare to make new friends over very cheap and generous drinks. There’s even a cat-friendly patio—which means cats may be hanging out there, not that the cats are necessarily themselves friendly.
This neighborhood hangout is always buzzing with activity, especially during Jazz Fest, given its prime Bayou St. John location. But it’s always a go-to spot for affordable drinks and good times. The bartenders are friendly, drinks are cold, cocktails are well-made, and the vibe is laid-back. Hungry? There’s a regular rotation of tasty pop-ups to satisfy nocturnal cravings.
This Irish Channel dive has welcomed regulars from the neighborhood and beyond since the early 1950s. The classic watering hole is also known for prepping one of the best roast beef po-boys in the city. The kitchen serves up substantial plates of fried food and other bar bites at a reasonable price. Come St. Patrick’s Day, Parasol’s hosts one of the biggest block parties in all of the city.
Every day is a soiree in the Peacock Room. This stylish and refined restaurant and bar inside the Kimpton Hotel Fontenot will give you a high-class dining experience without breaking the bank. Among the highrises and bustling streets of the Warehouse District, this fun and fanciful hideout is a veritable breath of fresh air primed to recharge you just enough to keep on carrying on through the rest of your work week. Keep an eye on their website to see what events will be coming through each week, lest you miss out on any of the planned festivities.
This laid-back French-style wine bar stocks unusual grapes from unusual places for its small bar and serene backyard. It’s like discovering a magical place quite literally hiding in plain sight—there’s no current signage, but the exterior is still marked by the old Sugar Park neon sign blazing out front. Wines by the glass range in provenance from France and Oregon to Slovenia and the Czech Republic. On the cocktail front, the eponymous St-Germain Spritz combines aromatic elderflower liqueur with sparkling wine and lemon and is arrives by the pitcher.
This landmark bar in the Roosevelt Hotel is named after the city’s official drink. The bar itself—made from African walnut—stretches the length of the room and is patrolled by bartenders in white coats and bow ties. Take a seat and enjoy the show as they prep classic cocktails in the shadow of gleaming mirrors and famed Paul Ninas murals. The signature Sazerac is a highlight, of course, but the other must-try is the Ramos Gin Fizz. Favored by legendary Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long (he was a regular fixture at the bar and a part-time resident of the hotel), the cocktail is a frothy concoction reminiscent of a citrusy cake in a glass.
Twelve Mile Limit
Stashed in a former corner dive, this is the place to go when you want a high-quality mixed drink at a markedly reasonable price. A welcoming joint at its core—its mission focuses on inclusivity—the bartenders here are as happy to sell you a PBR to-go as they are to mix up an original cocktail. The bar hosts trivia nights, dance parties, and regular pop-ups. Cementing its reputation as a bastion of the community, Twelve Mile Limit uses solar power (and can serve as a charging station during power outages), recycles its glass, composts its waste, and supports several nonprofits around the city.
The Will And The Way
Imagine you’re going to a friend’s house in the Quarter, if your friend had a full bar, killer cocktail list, great food, and made you pay for all that. (Worth it, though.) It’s a cozy space with a pretty courtyard that makes it easy to settle in and get comfortable. Munch on elevated tavern fare while enjoying a wide variety of creative house cocktails, wine, and beer.