New Orleans, LA- one of the most fun cities I have ever experienced. My younger sister goes to Tulane, so I have been to visit many times over the last few years. There is so much to do here, whether you are taking a family vacation, couple’s getaway, or a wild weekend with friends. Many people know NOLA for it’s infamous drinking culture, and I frequently get asked where the best places to get drinks are. So, I have compiled a list of my personal top ten favorite drinking spots in the Big Easy.
1. Hot Tin
Just a short elevator ride up to the roof of the Pontchartrain Hotel on St. Charles’s Ave, you will step off and enter a dimly lit room. Walk a little further and you will fall in love with the 1920s speakeasy vibe, dark romantic atmosphere, and gorgeous view of the crescent city skyline. Enjoy these views from underneath cover at the bar, or step out onto the deck and feel the warm NOLA air on your skin as you sip your drinks. The drink menu itself is sophisticated yet simple, and everything is handcrafted by skilled bartenders. Drink of choice: “Some Like it Hot”, made with mezcal, tequila, mango, habanero, lime, and cherry brandy.
2. Superior Seafood
Located on the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon, this great seafood restaurant serves up not only tasty food, but amazing drinks as well. The frozen rose has become one of my absolute favorite drinks of all time, and I will stop in just to get one to go. Other frozen drinks served here that are great: Frozen French 75 and Frozen Pomegranate Mojito. Another cool feature is that all frozen drinks come in a souvenir cup (I probably have accumulated enough now to set the dinner table with). Pair great drinks with the unbelievable seafood, and you are just winning at life.
3. Pat O’Brien’s
Pat O’s is one of the most famous of bars to visit when in New Orleans. Located just off Bourbon Street, this bar right on the corner will amaze you. When you walk in, it seems to just keep going. The outdoor courtyard decorated with colorful fountains and drunken bachelorette parties will for sure entertain you. The indoor dueling pianos are also a fun time to sing along to some hit songs. If you dare, you can take on their 3-gallon hurricane to share with friends, or just get a regular one (pro-tip: you will get drunk no matter what).
4. Frenchman Street
I couldn’t pick just one bar on this iconic street known for its amazing live jazz music. The Spotted Cat, Blue Nile, and Marigny Brasserie are just a few notable spots to grab a drink and kick back while listening to local bands play some soulful jazz. Also grab that drink to go and take a stroll over to the Palace Market, where local artists and vendors sell their merchandise. From glitter to essential oils, brass instrument light fixtures, and made to order paintings of your favorite pet, you never know what you might stumble across here. Frenchman street is not just a string of jazz music clubs, but an experience worthy of your time.
5. The Gazebo Café
Walking down Decatur Street in the French quarter, you might pass by this unassuming little gazebo in a quaint courtyard and think it is just a take-out window. If that’s what you think, then you would be correct. It is a take-out window…for alcohol. That’s right folks! You can walk up to the window, order your drink of choice, and then walk away with it and go wherever you may please while sipping on your new favorite drink! You can also take a seat in the courtyard and listen to live music that sometimes is playing. My personal favorite from here: Louisiana Lemonade, made with pink lemonade, strawberry liquor, and vodka.
6. Barrel Proof
In a very unassuming building on Magazine Street, this whiskey bar will blow your mind. They have over 300 whiskeys, bourbons, ryes, and scotches from all over the world. I kid you not; it took me at least 15 minutes to get through the drink menu. Order some whiskey neat or on the rocks, or enjoy a favorite whiskey cocktail crafted by your bartender. If you are new to whiskey, ask your bartender for recommendations. If you are a whiskey fanatic, boy are you going to lose your mind over this place. If you hate whiskey, I am sorry, but you will not be allowed in…just kidding! They have other non-whiskey drinks too.
7. El Gato Negro
Not only does this place have delicious and authentic Mexican food, but they have a wide selection of tequilas, and with those tequilas, they make insane margaritas. I mean, INSANE margaritas. My absolute favorite margarita of all time: Blood of the Devil, made with cranberry lime and Serrano pepper infused tequila. This infusion of the tequila is done in-house by the owner, which he told me in person when he made our tableside guac. When the owner of an establishment comes out and makes the food, converses with customers, and tells his humble story of how he came to own the restaurant; that is what makes me keep coming back the most. The margarita is a big draw too though.
8. Flamingo A-Go-Go
Bottomless mimosa a-go-go! Come to this place for brunch on the weekend, give them $10, and they will hand you a glass and fill it to the top with the legendary mixture of champagne and OJ. Make sure you say goodbye to the bottom of that glass though, because your server will make sure you never see it again. RIP. Side note: the brunch food is SO GOOD, and you can play big jenga outside. What more can you ask for on a Sunday afternoon?
9. Bourbon Street
Oh Bourbon Street, you sly devil. I can not just talk about one bar on bourbon, because it is basically just over a mile long indoor/outdoor bar. Come here on a Friday or Saturday night, and you basically can barely move in between the crowds of people all along the street. Let me tell you, if you decide to take it on at this time, be prepared to see some creatures of the night. During the day, bourbon is still always bustling, but you can at least walk down it with ease. Bars, male and female strip clubs, and just plain shady places that I do not even know what the heck they are, are some of the craziness you can experience here. Go up to a take-out window and grab a “hand grenade”, or a giant frozen daiquiri, and walk down the street taking in all the crazy drunk people. Hands down, one of the best people watching places on planet Earth.
10. Pirate Alley
Located in the small alleyway up against the St. Louis Cathedral, is this little brick building on the corner of cobblestone streets. Walk in and you will enter the world of pirates, and you will realize it really is a pirate’s life for you. According to ghost tour guides, real life pirates back in the day used to convene here, get drunk, and sword fight. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum, am I right? You can also get absinthe here, a mysterious looking concoction that tastes like licorice and has a proof that can seriously knock you on your ass. So head on over to this dark little bar and drink like Capt. Jack Sparrow himself.
So there you have it! These are just a select few of the hundreds of watering holes in the city, and there are still so many more I haven’t tried yet. But, if you find yourself in NOLA looking for a good time and good drinks, you cannot go wrong with any of these places.