New Orleans an open container-friendly city and people take full advantage. Luckily, the cocktail culture in New Orleans extends far beyond foot long grenades on Bourbon Street. Expect craft cocktails with an undertone of tiki culture along with classic cocktails … some of which were invented right here.
JEAN LAFITTE’S OLD ABSINTHE HOUSE | I mean … drinking where legends like Oscar Wilde, General Robert E. Lee, Frank Sinatra, and Mark Twain drank is going to be a cool experience. Add a copper top bar, malt scotches, and a list of specialty cocktails that looks half as old as the bar itself (ahem … 200 years), and you’ve got yourself a must-stop for anyone who appreciates all-things cocktails. Look for their “House Frappe”, Old Fashioned, or the famous Ramos Gin Fizz and, of course, absinthe cocktails. Their motto? “Everyone you have ever known or ever will know, eventually ends up at the Old Absinthe House.” (And don’t forget to ask the staff if they have any ghost stories about the building.)
240 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
HOT TIN | This chic Gatsby-inspired rooftop bar serves up incredible cocktails, great hospitality, and an unreal view of the city. It’s a can’t-miss.
2031 Saint Charles Avenue in the Pontchartrain Hotel (Garden District)
BEACHBUM BERRY’S LATITUDE 29 | Get beachy at this Trader Vic’s-inspired tiki bar. The innovative and unique drinks will put you on your ass, so take a friend … and don’t miss the punches. (Because who doesn’t want a drink with a mermaid in it?)
321 N Peters Street (French Quarter)
FRENCH 75 | Go classic at this traditional bar connected to Arnaud’s. Their specialty: the French 75 (obviously), but their other classic cocktails and seasonal options will also do the trick.
813 Rue Bienville, inside Arnaud’s (French Quarter)
CANE & TABLE | This craft cocktail spot is located directly across from the French Market. Choose from one of the classic, craft, or other unique offerings on the menu or just have a conversation with your bartender and have them make something special for you.
1113 Decatur Street (French Quarter)
LAFITTE’S BLACKSMITH SHOP BAR | Said to be one of the most haunted bars not only in NOLA, but the US, this churn-and-burn bar is a must-stop … but be prepared for a younger crowd and a line for the bathroom. Opt for sitting outside and keep an eye out for the ghost said to haunt the balcony above.
941 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
CAROUSEL BAR | This bar actually rotates. And it’s in a hotel that is registered as one of the “Historical Hotels of America” … because it’s old. They make some classic cocktails here, but since it’s usually very busy, stick with the basics. A French 75 is always a good bet. (I’m still trying to figure out how the bartenders find people when the customers are moving and they aren’t … )
214 Royal Street, inside the Hotel Monteleone (French Quarter)
811 Conti Street (French Quarter)
LOA | Named for “divine spirits in the Vodou faith tradition”, this lush bar boasts an extensive, creative cocktail list. (Just make sure you get there at least 20 minutes before they are set to close.)
221 Camp Street – in the International House Hotel (French Quarter)
PAT O’BRIEN’S | The über touristy bar and restaurant is known for its hurricanes and long waits.
GRAPEVINE BAR | This place has a “bacon happy hour”. Not kidding … free bacon during happy hour. Also, there’s some situation where you can roll a die and only pay what you roll … still learning about this option.
720 Orleans Avenue (French Quarter)
EMERIL’S DELMONICO | Emeril isn’t all bam and sizzle … this classy steakhouse (with a price tag to match) won’t leave you wanting more. The food is incredibly rich and flavorful and the service is out of this world. Ask to sit in the Cornstalk Room so you’ll get a quick walk through the kitchen.
The bar leaves a bit to be desired since they batch out their menu cocktails instead of making them in the moment … somewhat acceptable, but not for a $14 cocktail. Don’t miss their Royal Sazerac (that is every bit as good as the $25 price tag requires) or the Barrel-Aged Vieux Carré.
It’s on the trolley line, so hop on and make it an experience.
1300 St. Charles Avenue (Garden District)
COMPÈRE LAPIN | I may have had the best meal of my life here recently. The food is indulgent without being overwhelming. The bar program is also on point.
535 Tchoupitoulas Street in theThe Old No. 77 Hotel (Central Business District)
COMMANDER’S PALACE | You’ve heard of it … and it’s not all just hype. This must-visit spot is perfect for a lunch. Try to call for your reservation (which you MUST have to get in) from a local number and ask for the Garden Room. Don’t miss the praline souffle!
1403 Washington Ave (Uptown)
CHOPHOUSE | I’m kind of obsessed with this place. I think the steak I ordered was one of the top five I’ve ever eaten … and that’s out of a lot of steaks, y’all. I ordered the 12oz Delmonico Steak with the “Cajun Style” butter on the side. Get that.
322 Magazine St. (Central Business District)
ARNAUD’S | Seafood, steaks, food, and amazing service are offered here. Do not miss the baked oysters (pictured below) to get a little taste of all they offer.
813 Rue Bienville (French Quarter)
GALATOIRE’S 33 | I won’t visit New Orleans without a quick visit to Galatoire’s 33. My friend and I have become irrationally obsessed with their garlic bread (which you have to ask for) to a point that we were dubbed “the garlic bread girls” on our last visit. The service here is also impeccable; I’ve seldom felt so special and cared for in a tourist town as I did here.
The classic cocktails here are not to be missed if you’re a fan of classics (Sazeracs, Sidecars, and the like); just make sure you know where you’re heading after … because they’re so strong that you won’t be able to make clear decisions after a couple of them.
215 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
RESTAURANT R’EVOLUTION | Expect an imaginative take on Cajun cuisine in this upscale restaurant in the Royal Sonesta in the French Quarter. It’s one of the can’t-miss meals in New Orleans.
777 Bienville Street (French Quarter)
630 Carondelet Street (Central Business District)
ROUMELADE | Much more accessible than some of the other well known Creole spots, stop in for a quick taste of New Orleans right on Bourbon Street.
309 Bourbon Street (French Quarter)
FRANKIE & JOHNNY’S | A dive, yes, but it’s a great place to get an authentic po’ boy and cold beer. And their fried oysters are pretty damn incredible.
321 Arabella St. (University)
800 Magazine Street (Garden District)
808 Bienville St. (French Quarter)
CAFE DU MONDE | Because sometimes, you have to just be a tourist. CASH ONLY … and be prepared to wait in line unless you go on off hours, which isn’t tough to do because it’s a 24-hour spot.
SUCRÉ | Pop in for a macaron and a coffee for breakfast at one of their locations, but don’t bother eating a meal here. (Unfortunately, my meal was underwhelming with service to match.)
MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN COCKTAIL
JAZZ AT IRVIN MAYFIELD’S JAZZ PLAYHOUSE | Named for a legendary jazz musician, expect some of the best jazz in New Orleans set in an upscale respite right on Bourbon Street complete with a roomy courtyard.
300 Bourbon Street – inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel (French Quarter)
GHOST TOURS | Of the spooky cities in the US, New Orleans tops the charts. Start your evening off with some scary stories about voodoo, murder, and paranormal happenings on a walking tour through the city … and don’t forget a drink (or two).
Find option at neworleanscvb.com
GAMBLE AT HARRAH’S | Since you can’t gamble just anywhere in the US, take advantage of the opportunity when in New Orleans! Harrah’s is right on the water and an easy stop for a few hands of Blackjack.
228 Poydras Street (French Quarter)
JAZZ AT EL GATO NEGRO
ST. LOUIS CATHEDRAL
PLANTATION TOURS | Take half a day and explore the once great plantations outside of the city. BONUS: you can get some fantastic mint juleps to make the tours even more interesting.
Find option at neworleanscvb.com
There are many places to stay in New Orleans so it was hard picking out just 2 hotels. When my friends came for a visit they stayed at the InterContinental New Orleans and had nothing but good things to stay about it! So, here are 2 other hotels that are also good:
ROYAL SONESTA | The recently renovated Sonesta hotel is a cozy yet luxurious hotel right on Bourbon Street in walking distance from most major French Quarter destinations. Rooms are clean and roomy and service is impeccable. (Ask for a room not facing Bourbon to cut down on noise.)
HOTEL MONTELEON | This sumptuous and legendary hotel is conveniently located in the French Quarter and houses one of the most iconic bars in New Orleans, the Carousel Bar. The best part? It’s always easy to find your hotel thanks to the neon sign atop it that acts like a big, red beacon.
The French Quarter is quite walkable, so strap on some comfortable shoes and explore the Big Easy. The trolley is a great way to get to the Garden District, Uptown, Magazine Street, and to the universities.