When you think of New Orleans what comes to mind? It’s probably one of the best places in the country to party and indulge in strong drinks. There are dive bars, elegant cocktail bars, and sports bars – even the street is a bar because New Orleans is one of the last places where its completely legal and acceptable to drink outside. There’s Bourbon Street, of course, that legendary playground for rowdy drinkers, music, and Mardi Gras festivities.
However, the full breadth of New Orleans drinking culture is hardly encapsulated by that one street. The best bars in New Orleans serve not just beer and bourbon but classic cocktails, too – and you might even come across the occasional Hurricane. There are classy cocktail bars and grungy dive bars where you’ll meet lots of local characters. Each has their place in this eclectic city. One thing they all have in common? Appreciation of a good drink and a welcoming attitude toward everyone who walks in the door.
Here are the best bars in New Orleans where you pull up a stool and get to know one of the most interesting cities in the country. And don’t forget to visit these iconic Bourbon Street bars and experience one of the many New Orleans festivals that take over the city every year.
As one of the first craft cocktail bars in New Orleans, Bar Tonique prides itself on consistency. The decor and menu have hardly changed since it first opened in 2008. Known for its unpretentious atmosphere, it’s an informal cross between a dive bar and an upscale cocktail bar, where locals love to drink and happy hour cocktails are only $5 on weekdays.
Bar Tonique: 820 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Double Dealer New Orleans
Double Dealer has a slight speakeasy vibe; it’s located underneath the Orpheum Theater. If you’re looking for a chic setting and live music, this is the place for you. The decor is meant to evoke the vaudeville era. Curtains are velvet, booths are cozy, and ingredients include prune infused bourbon and jasmine infused vodka.
Double Dealer New Orleans: 129 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112
Ghost bar is known for its playful cocktails in a dive bar setting: The legendary Cereal Killer, for instance, takes like Fruity Pebbles. Other ingredients on the menu include pickle brine and praline cream liqueur (not in the same cocktail of course) and some drinks are topped with candies, from marshmallows to gummi worms. If you have a sweet tooth, this is where you want to pull up a chair. Past patrons praise the fact that although this bar is close to Bourbon Street, the atmosphere is relaxed and it rarely gets jammed packed with drunken revelers.
Ghost Bar: 606 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Located inside Maison de la Luz in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, Bar Marilou took over a space once occupied by a library. The decor is what really catches your eye here: There are floor to ceiling red shelves patched with books, patterned carpets, chandeliers, and plush lounge chairs in multiple colors and shapes. The space evokes comfort and style. There’s also a full food menu,and the sophisticated drinks are inspired by things like butterflies and strawberry shortcake.
Bar Marilou: 544 Carondelet St, New Orleans, LA 70130
The Black Penny
Completely dedicated to beer, The Black Penny serves around 100 different types of hyperlocal, regional, and national brews. There are also imported options, stouts, ciders, and sour beers, as well as cocktails. Housed inside a cavernous, bricked walled 19th century building, the bar offers an extensive drink menu that staff are reportedly happy to help newcomers navigate.
The Black Penny: 700 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116
This French Quarter bar is a favorite hang out for local artists and musicians. Although it’s technically an Irish pub, Erin Rose is known for its thoroughly New Orleans menu, especially the po’ boy sandwiches, which past patrons praise as some of the best in the city. The frozen Irish coffee is probably the bar’s best known – and most loved – drink.
Erin Rose: 811 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70112
Jewel of the South
Considered one of the best restaurant bars not just in Louisiana but the entire country, Jewel of the South is a modern take on the traditional tavern. The food menu’s luxury offerings include caviar, black pudding, and tripe. Meanwhile, the cocktail menu features in-house creators as well as a $58 cocktail with Grand Marnier and Cognac.
Jewel of the South: 1026 St Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70112
Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29
This tiki bar is all about the tropical vibes. Loosely based on the flavors and cuisine of the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands, you’ll find cute umbrellas and flowers in the drinks. Rum is the star of the cocktail menu. For food, you’ll find spam musubi, lumpia, and other slightly-inspired Asian dishes with a Southern twist – like rangoon filled with pimento cheese and shrimp and grits seasoned with spicy sambal.
Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29: 321 N Peters St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
While paying homage to the city’s French heritage, this bar has close connections to New Orleans history. First off, it’s an extension of the legendary Arnaud’s Restaurant. Arnaud’s French 75 Bar is all about elegance and class. The bartenders wear white tuxedos, the bar itself is made from shiny mahogany and the guests wear jackets and cocktail dresses. Of course, the drink to try here is the French 75 – a drink which embodies the spirit of New Orleans.
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar: 813 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70112
Little Bar on Gravier
There are a lot of dive bars in New Orleans, but not all of them are created equal. Past patrons praise the friendly bartenders at Little Bar on Gravier, and the friendly atmosphere. There aren’t crowds of drunk partiers crowding the tables and you don’t have to shout over the music. It’s nothing fancy but it’s not trying to be. Come here if you want a low key, well-made drink without much fuss.
Little Bar on Gravier: 510 Gravier St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Where to stay in New Orleans
New Orleans is one of the most walkable cities in the country, which means you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet. Whether you’re exploring New Orleans seafood restaurants or immersing yourself in history at the National World War II museum, you’ll never get bored in New Orleans. What you will need is somewhere comfortable to stay. These stylish New Orleans hotels offer centrally located rooms with luxury amenities. There are also plenty of New Orleans Airbnbs near the French Quarter.
We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
The sleek and modern rooms at this boutique hotel feature enticing touches like comfortable couches, spacious bathrooms, and huge windows that let in lots of natural light. There’s a courtyard pool and guests can enjoy views of the Mississippi River while cozied up to the firepits at the outdoor patio and bar.
Maison de La Luz
Maison de La Luz doesn’t even call itself a hotel – it’s a guest house. Equipped with 67 suites, the space is all about Southern charm and elegant decor – think heavy curtains, velvet couches, and high ceilings. The Living Room is the hotel’s private lounge, where guests can sip cocktails in luxury. The so-called “bespoke” concierge service promises a staff that can cater to guests every whim.
The Saint Hotel
This French Quarter hotel (near Bourbon Street) is the epitome of New Orleans cool. The regular rooms are outfitted in navy blue and exposed brick detail, while angel and devil themed suites play to guests’ more mischievous side. The hotel’s Burgundy Bar is outfitted in moody red lighting, and some of the marble bathrooms feature soaking tubs.