New Orleans Bars & Nightlife
500 Chartres St., French Quarter
The Napoleon House is the tourist trap that is well worth the hassle to visit. Smack in the heart of the French Quarter, it is the enclave that was built for Napoleon had he ever arrived into New Orleans. He didn’t. The walls, the paintings, the bar, and the bar staff however, breathe history and realness. They have vegan beans and rice for lunch, and it’s worth the wait in line for the sweet tea alone. If you’re going to have a Sazerac in New Orleans, have it here. Have two, and don’t call us.
820 N. Rampart St., French Quarter
Okay, this is the real deal: easily one of our favorite return-to bars in New Orleans. This joint concocts drinks according to the recipe from the year the drink was invented. So you get lots of authentic pre–Civil War and 1920s recipes, made from rum and gin (I don’t drink gin, ever!…but I do here…) It’s basic, with little fanfare, and there's no need to shout here—there’s enough of that three blocks away. This is real, carefully and lovingly prepared, super authentic, and reasonable. And on Sundays, there are a couple of crock-pots in the back booth with beans and rice to deaden or carb out the inevitable weekend hangover.
Arnaud’s French 75
813 Bienville St., French Quarter
Although French 75 is part of the legendary restaurant Arnaud’s (they share the same 1918 building in the French Quarter), it’s worth a stop in its own right. The cocktails here are mixed by a team of New Orleans’s finest bartenders, and we’d recommend the namesake drink (Courvoisier cognac, cane sugar, lemon juice, and Moët & Chandon). If you don’t plan to move on to Arnaud’s for dinner, the small bites here—like the Brie and jalapeño-stuffed shrimp or black-eyed pea beignets—will tide you over until your next meal.
600 Poland Ave., Bywater
Bacchanal is pure magic on a steamy New Orleans night. It’s part wine shop, part bar, and part music venue—you’ll want to make sure to spend time in the courtyard, bathed in torchlight. This is the place to take your glass of vino and cheese plate while enjoying some very talented up-and-coming jazz acts (check the website for a full schedule).
713 Saint Louis St., French Quarter
Situated in the heart of the French Quarter, this annex of Antoine’s Restaurant provides live music and a stellar cocktail list—plus a pretty great scene and the oldest menu in town.
Cane & Table
1113 Decatur St., French Quarter
Two words: rum punch. That’s the specialty at this Caribbean-inspired, mixology-minded restaurant. The menu—a solid selection of rustic colonial cuisine—is packed with small plates like puffed pork skins and fried pickles. Need more proof that this place take its booze seriously? The all you can drink brunch—mimosa, punch, bloody marys—is kind of legendary.
3641 Magazine St., Uptown
Though the lengthy menu of snacks (deviled eggs, grilled baby octopus) and small plates (burrata crostini, gouda beignets) suggest otherwise, this sleek, midcentury-modern hangout is first and foremost a bar—one where the focus is on the finest cocktails and spirits. The attention to food can be chalked up to the fact that the bar’s owner is John Harris, the guy responsible for neighborhood favorite Lilette, conveniently located next door.