New Orleans Bars & Nightlife

Establishment neighborhood
Napoleon House
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.
Bar Tonique
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.