While there are plenty of agencies offering cocktail tours of New Orleans, a cheaper way to go is to design your own cocktail bar crawl! I spent a day walking around the city in search of NOLA’s best watering holes. With my favorite bars listed below, you are sure to experience the best cocktails New Orleans has to offer on your own DIY cocktail crawl!
Although New Orleans’ claim to have invented the cocktail has been disproven by the Smithsonian, the Big Easy is still an excellent city to enjoy some spirited sips of the best cocktail concoctions in the US. Liquor connoisseurs flock to the city to try cocktails from mixologists specializing in sazaracs, brandy crustas, and absinthe forward drinks.
Start your DIY Cocktail Tour in the French Quarter
Sobou — 310 Chartres St
What You’re Ordering: the Parakeet Nordine or Taylor Bird Sazerac
A classy reprieve from the sticky floored bars in the French Quarter, Sobou stands for South of Bourbon street. It’s only a few blocks of Bourbon but it feels like it could be miles away. The dimly lit interior creates a cozy ambiance, and their all-star team have been awarded for serving up some seriously solid cocktails. If you sit at the bar, you’ll experience an ice show as they chop their bar top ice block with a clever to hand shape ice spheres for each drink.
SylVain — 625 Chartres St
What You’re Ordering: En Bloom or Modern Logger
Just off Jackson Square, Sylvain is a surprisingly tranquil spot in the heart of the French Quarter. The drinks are delicious, the interior patio is delightful, and the casual timelessness of the vibes are comforting. I loved the aesthetic of this place, with the tattered American flag hung on the wall and the taxidermy animals on the shelves.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar — 941 Bourbon St
What You’re Ordering: A beer
One of the oldest bars in America, Lafittes is a New Orleans institution that has remained largely unchanged for 200 years. It’s dark and dank interior is nothing fancy, but live piano music and frozen drinks or beers make it a hang out that feels removed from the drunken crowds of Bourbon street. I wouldn’t stay for more than one.
Arnaud’s French 75 — 813 Bienville St
What You’re Ordering: French 75 or the Brooklyn
A historic spot, French 75 used to be a gentlemen only bar until the early 1980s when it reopened to the general public. The deep wood paneling and original bar represent the history of the location, while the menu offers a bevy of classic New Orleans cocktails. The namesake cocktail, French 75, is not to be missed.
Continue walking to the financial district where a few stellar hotel bars will make you rethink hotel bars
Loa — 221 Camp St
What You’re Ordering: Delilah or Twice Worn Kilt
Loa is located inside the modern yet ornate International House. The drink menu embodies the Vodou faith tradition with a myriad of tinctures, bitters and syrups to bring out botanical and rich flavors from local ingredients. Every cocktail here seems to have a story and their attentive staff can make some great recommendations.
Compère Lapin — 535 Tchoupitoulas St
What You’re Ordering: the Andromeda or Paris Between the Wars
Located inside the modern and trendy lobby of the Old No. 77 Hotel, Compere Lapin features a food and drink menu that marries indigenous New Orleans ingredients with Caribbean cooking traditions. The cocktail menu represents this culture clash where you’ll experience some interesting and unique combinations.
Sazarac Bar — 130 Roosevelt Way
What You’re Ordering: the Sazarac or Gin Fizz
You’ll enter the Sazarac bar through the lobby of the recently renovated Roosevelt Hotel. This historical location is the perfect place to order New Orleans’ iconic cocktail. The vibes exude an aura of excess reminiscent of the 1940s. Admire the hand-painted murals featuring stories of New Orleans history from the plush leather bar stools while sipping your Sazarac.
Catahoula Hotel — 914 Union St
What You’re Ordering: Pisco Sour or Chilcano
Offering a rare skyline view of downtown on their rooftop patio, the Catahoula Hotel is a quiet and sunlit spot to sample Peruvian inspired cocktails. This is place you could easily stay for hours and watch the day go by. The cocktails primarily feature Peru’s national liquor — Pisco. I fell in love with Pisco while living in South America, so this bar felt like a blast from the past. Start with the traditional Pisco Sour if you’re not familiar with the liquor. The Chilcano and Chinguertio are great options for your 2nd, 3rd or 4th drinks!
Ready for more delicious cocktails? Head to these more far flung destination bars for a few surprises!
Turkey and the Wolf — 739 Jackson Ave
What You’re Ordering: Ma’am, Don’t Be Hysterical or When I was 10 I went to school as a dead cheerleader for halloween
Good vibes abound, Turkey and the Wolf is a trendy hipster hang out on the outskirts of the Garden District with some kick ass food and comforting cocktails. Their Instagram alone would inspire me to visit, but the laid-back vibes is what kept me hanging out. I felt right at home here.
Cure — 4905 Freret St
What You’re Ordering: Anything!
Cure is the cream of the crop when it comes to modern cocktail bars in New Orleans — great decor, killer drinks, cool crowds — and is well worth a visit despite it’s off the beaten path location in Freret. I didn’t know half the ingredients on the menu, but their expert (and surprisingly approachable) staff will make recommendations based on your personal tastes. Sit at the bar to appreciate the true craft their bartenders bring to the art of mixology. It’s opening started a neighborhood revival so you can feel good about supporting this local business!
Treo & Tana — 3835 Tulane Ave
What You’re Ordering: Listen Up 5’s, a 10 is Speaking or Lesbian Yellow Sour Fruit
Part bar, part art gallery, this Mid City hang out has a funky vibe with lots of interesting people. Their innovative menu is refreshing with lots of flavor combinations I have not experienced before. And you can wander around the gallery with a drink in hand — what more can you want!
Bacchanal — 600 Poland Ave
What You’re Ordering: a bottle of wine from the shop or the Lost Ward
This stop is a MUST for any New Orleans itinerary. Bacchanal is a great place to end your night with live music and a unique ambiance that can’t be beat! Their massive outdoor patio and DIY food & drink menu will easily chew up hours of your time. I returned to this place on 3 separate occasions in one trip because I loved it so much! Their drink specialty is wine from their well-curated shop, but the cocktails from the bar are pretty damn good too.