A trip to New Orleans is, of course, centered around eating and drinking. But when it comes to the latter, it’s all in the details. You need to specify exactly what you’re looking for when you ask for a recommendation from a local—because this town has it all. Looking for a no frills dive? Cocktails and bar bites? Speakeasy? Historic haunt? Wine bar? There’s no way to hit ‘em all when you fly south, but you can certainly scratch beyond the Hurricane-guzzling crowds on Bourbon Street. From glitzy classics to glorious watering holes, these ten favorite New Orleans bars will start or finish your night off properly in the Big Easy.
1. Chandelier Bar
When the Four Seasons New Orleans opened its doors in August 2021, it brought with it a flurry of new clientele to the Central Business District, straddling the French Quarter and Warehouse District. Guests will see why the minute they enter the property—greeted by 15,000 twinkling crystals comprising the centerpiece chandelier that gives the opulent lobby bar its name. Pull up a bar stool under the twinkling lights or settle into a shady nook with a signature Chandelier Martini. Served in the same cut crystal as the grand chandelier, this work of art is a blend of dry and aromatic gins (or vodka, if you prefer), extra dry vermouth, citrus bitters and herbal mist. The elegant spins on the classics offer visitors and locals alike a satiating representation of New Orleans drinking culture—while elevating the hotel lobby bar experience several notches.
Eponymous with the bitters that New Orleans is famed for, Peychaud’s is a definitive staple in the city’s bar scene within the Hotel Maison De Ville. The building is the former residence of Antoine Amédée Peychaud, the creator of the patented bitters that became a hallmark in New Orleans’ signature Sazerac cocktail. The brick courtyard, enhanced with flora and a trickling fountain is, thus, the ultimate spot to indulge in this famed beverage.
3. Bacchanal Wine
You’ll hear the jazz floating out of the multi-story Bacchanal Wine as you approach—and immediately know you’re in the right place. Entering this coveted, no-frills venue, you’ll then peruse a noteworthy selection of wines (including funky picks, like natural and orange varieties) before picking a bottle and letting the team build a sensational charcuterie board for you—to be served in their open courtyard with some front-row music. Come back for Sunday jazz brunch to sip in the famed New Orleans sunshine.
4. The Avenue Pub
For a semi-local hotspot with a long, revolving list of beers on tap and sound devotion to craft whisky, Avenue Pub is your answer. It’s a stand and drink kind of place, so be prepared for the casual atmosphere of this corner venue, but if you’re in the mood for bar grub and can snag a seat, their burger and pub beer dip is a way to make an afternoon or evening out of your visit—and the best excuse to try even more beers.
5. The Press Room
For a serious sip into New Orleans history, enter this swanky Parisian-style lounge at the Eliza Jane hotel just a couple of blocks from the French Quarter. The lobby bar is part of seven storied warehouses repurposed by The Eliza Jane—which include, most notably, the former Peychaud’s Bitters Factory and The Daily Picayune newspaper. Paying homage to this history, The Press Room is adorned with the likes of antique typewriters and books, brass lighting and original brickwork that transports imbibers to a different era. The minimalist bar is ideal for a quick drink—or a long sink into a velvet armchair.
6. The Royal Bar
Renowned for their daily $5 martini happy hour (3-8pm), this vibrant, conveniently located bar in the Royal Frenchmen Hotel is frequently shortlisted as one of the city’s best spots to sip the world’s most classic cocktail. Abuzz at all hours, The Royal Bar offers an ever-rotating calendar of live music—so paying a few extra bucks for a cocktail during a show is well worth it even if you miss that happy hour deal.
7. Bar Tonique
Self-proclaimed as the city’s “first freestanding craft cocktail bar,” this unpretentious, neighborhood spot is where to lean into those classic New Orleans cocktails. Start with a Sazerac, then move on to any number of punches, coolers, sours, and slings that will definitely require a second and third visit. The menu lists the cocktails’ origin dates and offers daily $6 specials—including Daiquiri Tuesdays and Mai Tai Sundays.
8. The Will and The Way
Tucked into Toulouse Street, The Will and The Way’s poppy shutters draw guests into a warm, wooden interior bedecked with flickering candles. A small but mighty house cocktail list matches a craft menu of snacks and mains that are perfect for either kicking off your night or satisfying a late night craving. Though a classics section on the menu can easily draw your attention, this is a spot to dabble in the new. Specialty concoctions include the Cash Money Dillionaire (pisco, carrot, ginger shrub, dill, lemon and soda) and the Salto del Pastor (blanco tequila, cynar, sweet vermouth, serrano and an orange twist).
9. Kermit’s Treme Mother In Law
This local dive is easily recognizable from its eye-catching street art portraying cartooned jazz musicians. Opened in 1994 as a shrine to New Orleans music, the venue closed for a number of years before being reopened by Kermit Ruffins, bestowing the new name to the original Mother In Law Lounge in 2014. Always a party, this is a spot to come get responsibly rowdy while still enjoying some live music most nights of the week.
10. Pluck Wine Bar
If you tend to get cocktailed out, this one’s for you. Even though wine bars can intimidate the casual oenophile, you won’t find this at Pluck. All about dissociating the pretentious wine stigma, their laid-back, soulful atmosphere is the place to come and try wines you may have never heard of—including small, ethical producers and reasonably priced bottles. Ask the sommeliers for recommendations. Rest assured, if they pour something you don’t like, they’ll keep pouring until they find the right match.
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