Food & Drink

NOLA's Bartender of the Year Is Ready to Pour You a Drink (And Tell You a Story)

Published On 11/03/2016 Published On 11/03/2016
Lauren Holton
Lauren Holton | Jonny Rosenbloom
Nora McGunnigle/Thrillist
Nora McGunnigle/Thrillist
Nora McGunnigle/Thrillist
Lauren Holton and Nick Martin | Courtesy of Turkey and the Wolf
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1. SoBou 310 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

SoBou is a self-proclaimed modern saloon, and it expertly combines a repertoire of handcrafted cocktails with Louisiana street food-inspired fare. Country meets city in SoBou’s dining room, with rustic white wooden chairs against walls lined with hundreds of glass bottles, backlit with chic amber lighting. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and burlesque brunch on weekends, SoBou’s food highlights include tuna cones, shrimp & tasso pinchos, and sweet potato beignets, with a broader selection of small bites, sandwiches, entrée salads, and large plates. Cocktails change frequently, but the self-serve wine and beer is a restaurant staple.

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2. Compère Lapin 535 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (Warehouse District)

Lead by Top Chef contestant Nina Compton, Compére Lapin is Caribbean-meets-Louisiana-Creole cuisine that is thoughtful and refined, but not fussy. Add a killer bar program (headed by NOLA barkeep Abigail Gullo from SoBou), and you've got yourself your next Friday night dinner reservation. Located in the Warehouse District, the space is a stunner, with exposed brick walls, wood finishes and a mosaic tile floor.

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3. Revel Cafe and Bar 133 N Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119 (Mid City)

Revel Cafe and Bar is a cocktail-focused bar started by legendary cocktail master Chris McMillian and his wife Laura. It offers special rotating cocktails during happy hour, as well as small snacks like smoked fish tacos or white bean hummus. Gourmet sandwiches are served with housemade bread, and bold colors on the wall add a kick of invitation for customers wanting to stay awhile.

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4. Cure 4905 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

Cure in Uptown is one of the mainstays of the New Orleans cocktail bar scene. The lush and lavish interior invites cocktail snobs and newbies alike to indulge in the varied cocktail list with hilarious and inventive names. In addition to cocktails, Cure features great food options that range from small bites to larger entrees. The bar hosts a great happy hour every day of the week, so check its website for the ever-changing deals.

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5. Cane & Table 1113 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

There are many things to enjoy about this throwback Caribbean restaurant and bar -- think Navy-strength rum and house-made falernum -- but best enjoyed here is the “Boss Colada”, a long and tropical drink fashioned from fresh pineapple, lime, Baska Snäps, and Peychauds bitters, garnished with a long pineapple leaf. Be warned: this bar is so low-key that there isn't even a sign out front. To find it, look for the line at Coop's on Decatur; it's next door.

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6. Turkey & the Wolf 739 Jackson Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

With a menu divided into “Sandwiches” and “Not Sandwiches,” Irish Channel’s The Turkey and The Wolf establishes the senses of quirkiness and irony that is apparent both in the food and the atmosphere. Menu items tend to include everything but the kitchen sink, like the fried bologna sandwich, which stacks meat, hot English mustard, potato chips, “shrettuce,” mayo, and American cheese, or the wedge salad, which is topped with “everything bagel crunchy stuff.” Tables are set with mismatched plates and vintage saltshakers, and there’s a collection of framed napkin art in the bathroom.

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7. High Hat Cafe 4510 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

High Hat Café in Freret is a casual neighborhood spot that serves southern soul food from the Mississippi Delta and Louisana. Catfish is the star of the menu, but you won’t go wrong with the restaurant’s appetizers, salads, po’ boys, sandwiches, burgers, and hot plates, particularly the cornmeal pancakes and pimento cheese plate. With an old-fashioned bar, tiled floors, and a muted color scheme, High Hat is aesthetically understated, allowing you to dedicate your attention both to the savory dishes in front of you and your selection from the bourbon-heavy cocktail program in your hand.