When it comes to New Orleans bars, you’re really spoiled for choice in the Big Easy. This is a town that takes its nightlife and drinking very seriously. From jazz clubs to craft breweries, cocktail bars and rooftop bars, here are 10 of the best bars in New Orleans for a night to remember.
Arnaud’s The French 75
Rated as one of the top five bars in the country, they certainly know how to mix a drink at The French 75 at Arnaud’s. The elegant bar space has a distinctly French feel, and the menu of classically inspired cocktails makes use of the best local ingredients, homemade syrups and high-quality spirits.
Housed in a former firehouse on Freret Street, Cure is an award-winning bar. It’s especially known for its cocktail program and high-end bar food. Very popular on weekends, one insider tip is to head there during the week. Don’t forget to try its seasonal cocktail specials.
The Jazz Playhouse
When it comes to New Orleans jazz clubs there are plenty to choose from. The Jazz Playhouse, right on Bourbon Street, is a good choice. It’s where you’ll find live music every night with no cover charge, cocktails inspired by jazz greats, and a fine menu of craft beers and bar snacks.
The Courtyard Brewery
The Courtyard Brewery is a family-run, small-batch operation that serves up a fine list of draft beers. Favorites include the Bell’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Exhibition Stout, the Courtyard Baby IPA and the Courtyard Cosmic Shake, an American wheat beer. If you’re feeling hungry, The Courtyard Brewery has a regular line-up of food trucks from Thursday through Sunday.
For a fine neighborhood bar, head to Barrel Proof in the Lower Garden District. This is a place that takes drinking seriously, with over 300 whiskeys and 50 craft beers on offer (at the last time of counting) from the US and around the world. It’s a friendly place to have drinks with friends, with a daily happy hour.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
Dating back to the 1720s, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop has a claim on being New Orleans’ oldest bar. In the heart of Bourbon Street, this is an atmospheric bar with a good range of drinks and regular live piano music. Try its signature frozen drinks, including its legendary grape-flavored Voodoo Daiquiri.
The Avenue Pub
Housed in a historic Lower Garden District building with brick walls and bare floorboards, The Avenue Pub is an unpretentious bar that takes craft beer very seriously indeed. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you’ll have plenty of time to work your way through its 40 beer taps and dozens of other craft beers available by the bottle.
Occupying the former penthouse of a historic hotel, Hot Tin is a New Orleans rooftop bar with a 1940s feel. And yes, it offers spectacular views of the city skyline. The cocktail menu combines classic and contemporary drinks. The decor and name are inspired by Tennessee Williams, who is reputed to have lived in the hotel for a short while.
The Carousel Bar & Lounge
They’ve been selling drinks at The Carousel Bar & Lounge since 1949, where the bar gently rotates as befitting the carousel theme. Truman Capote used to drink here, and the emphasis is on classic cocktails including the Sazerac, New Orleans’ most famous drink. The bar is open seven days a week, with live music Wednesday through Saturday.
The Rusty Nail
At the point where the Lower Garden District meets the Warehouse District you’ll find The Rusty Nail, a neighborhood bar with a wonderful patio that makes it one of the finest outdoor drinking spots in the city. During the week there are daily happy hours and the drinks menu includes a rotating cast of 16 draft beers, whiskeys and cocktails.