Despite being the birthplace of the cocktail, new bars don’t actually open that often in New Orleans, so when they do, it’s worth celebrating (over, say, a drink!). Here are the best new watering holes -- attached to restos, hotels, and standalone -- to cut the ribbon in the Crescent over the last few months.
The 8 best new bars in New Orleans
Cooter Brown’s is an Uptown favorite for a number of reasons: oysters, a huge, 400-strong imported beer selection, and a sporting atmosphere that somehow doesn’t seem like the basement of a fraternity house. But after almost four decades in business, they’re shaking things up with a new back bar, Snooty Cooter (officially opening this weekend) dedicated to craft beer. How dedicated? About 20 rotating taps of award-winning, hard-to-find-in-these-parts goodness like Lagunitas and Green Flash. It’s also really, really fun to say out loud.
Lower Garden District
Many lamented the demise of the late Bridge Lounge... but don’t cry over spilled beer! The owners of Sylvain have come to the rescue and opened Barrel Proof in that location, where you’ll find whiskey, whiskey, and more whiskey -- 150 bottles, to be precise. So if you like the good brown stuff (from places like Japan, Ireland, Scotland, India [!], and of course, the good ol' US of A), this is the place for you. Also? They have 50 damn beers, too.
Lower Garden District
If you’re not in the mood (or don’t have the coin) for an 8-15 course chef’s table tasting menu at Philip Lopez’s sparkling new restaurant-cum-food laboratory, head to the upstairs bar, which features experimental cocktails that keep pace with the ambitious menu below, such as the Roll in the Hay (ginger-grapefruit punch, honeysuckle vodka, vermouth), or the Manhattan made w/ green peppercorn.
Magazine Street’s Mexican game is upped by one with the opening of Araña, and while the tacos and enchiladas are tasty, head there for the deep tequila list -- including flight options -- an excellent michelada (which you can get con camarones... a literal shrimp cocktail), sangria shooters, and, naturally, the Bloody Maria.
The newly renovated and reopened Meauxbar, courtesy of Chef Kristen Essig and the rest of the former team at Sainte Marie, is an excellent, romantic place to dine. But it’s also an excellent, romantic place to grab a drink, as evidenced by the sophisticated cocktail program. If you’re not going for the food (which you should), definitely go for a Laurel Collins, Basil Smash, or a classic Vieux Carre.
All stops were pulled with the million-plus dollar renovation of this French Quarter landmark, and it shows. Its elegance puts it right up there with the 100-year-old Grand Dame big boys. Best, though, is the Empire, where you’ll find a lavish marble bar, behind which barman supreme Paul Gustings will be waiting to make you a Ramos Gin Fizz (just don’t expect him do to it with a smile).
Added to the “Only in New Orleans” list is Ooh Poo Pah Doo, named after Jessie Hill’s classic songs. Hill’s daughter opened the neighborhood bar and live music venue as a tribute to the family’s musical legacy (which continues to expand, and includes Trombone Shorty, among others), and it’s the place to head for inexpensive drinks, hot tunes, and, of course, red beans on Monday. Also, like Snooty Cooter, the name is amazingly fun to say.
Did there need to be another juke joint in the oh-so-hipster Bywater? According to the owners of the newly opened Bar Redux, the answer is clearly: yes. The classic Creole and Caribbean fare is appealing, but the mint juleps are doubly so.
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1. Snooty Cooter509 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans
2. Barrel Proof1201 Magazine St, New Orleans
3. Root Squared1800 Magazine St, New Orleans
4. Araña Taqueria Y Cantina3242 Magazine St, New Orleans
5. Meauxbar942 N Rampart St, New Orleans
6. The Empire Bar at Broussard's819 Conti St, New Orleans
7. Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar1931 Orleans Ave, New Orleans
8. Bar Redux801 Poland Ave, New Orleans
This back bar (located in Cooter Brown's Tavern and Oyster Bar) is dedicated to craft beer and features a long list of more than 20 rotating taps and a number of craft selections in bottles.
Located in the Lower Garden District, Barrel Proof features whiskey, whiskey, and more whiskey (150 bottles of it). So if you like the good brown stuff (from places like Japan, Ireland, Scotland, India [!], and of course the good ole US of A), this is the place for you. Bourbon's not the only thing on the menu, though-- cocktails here are classic libations, made by bartenders who clearly know what they're doing.
If you’re not in the mood (or don’t have the coin) for an 8-15 course chef’s table tasting menu at Philip Lopez’s sparkling restaurant-cum-food laboratory Square Root, head to the upstairs bar Root Squared, which features experimental cocktails that keep pace with the ambitious menu below.
This Magazine St Mexican restaurant has a modern cantina vibe with multi-colored metal lanterns and big lights spelling "TEQUILA" across the bar (so you know where the priorities lie). Arana doles out dozens of reasonably priced taco choices and large-portion plates of chicken mole, fajitas and enchiladas. Order them with a bucket of domestic beer bottles for the table, a specialty cocktail or a flight of — you guessed it — tequila.
This French Quarter resto/bar is an excellent place to dine AND drink, with a sophisticated cocktail program including their fan favorites Laurel Collins, Basil Smash, or a classic Vieux Carre.
Located at the fine dining establishment Broussard's, the Empire Bar houses a lavish marble bar, behind which barman supreme Paul Gustings will be waiting to make you a Ramos Fizz, or one of the other extraordinary 'tails on the menu. Try one of Gustings' signature Napoleon brandy-based cocktails or the Leite de Onca, which is a cachaça-based cocktail with toasted coconut shavings, pineapple syrup, heavy cream, condensed milk, and Mexican chocolate.
Located in the historic Treme 'hood, this is a comfortable neighborhood watering hole complete with some of the best live music in town played by a myriad of talented artists who frequent the place.