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A view of the Carousel Bar, a slowly-rotating bar structure meant to resemble a carousel ride at a carnival, with bulb lights and mirrors.
Inside Carousel Bar
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14 Essential New Orleans Cocktail Bars

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Inside Carousel Bar
| Brasted

When it comes to essential cocktail bars, New Orleans is home to some of the oldest and most renowned spots in the world. It's also home to a few newer drinking destinations that have been making waves in recent years.

Here now, are the most important cocktail bars in New Orleans. Use this as a guide for when you're trying to impress dates, host out-of-town guests or just looking for an exceptional drink around town.

Keep in mind, this isn't just a guide to the oldest bars in New Orleans. These cocktail bars have contributed to the storied history of cocktails in the Big Easy and America itself, whether through the invention of a classic drink, offering renowned service, or bringing something new to the table.

Please note, these are not ranked, but arranged by neighborhood. Don't see an extremely important cocktail bar that needs to be on this list? Leave a comment or send Eater a tip, and tell us about it.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Napoleon House Bar & Cafe

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This 200 year old French Quarter landmark was once the home of a New Orleans mayor who offered the spot to Napoleon as a refuge during his exile (but the little guy never made it). Today, it's the essential spot in town for a Pimm's Cup, and it's now run by the Ralph Brennan restaurant group, so the food menu is also on point.

Arnaud's French 75 Bar

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This small and jaunty bar attached to Quarter icon Arnaud's, serves up classy drinks—the Brandy Crusta and the French 75 are two classics—from beloved barman Chris Hannah, regarded as one of the best in the biz.

The Carousel Bar & Lounge

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Spinning for 65+ years, this exceptional merry-go-round bar in the Hotel Monteleone (and Tales of the Cocktail hub) is one of the swankiest attractions in the Quarter and offers non-rotating seats with a great window views of Royal Street. The Ramos Gin Fizz is great here, but the hotel is known as the birthplace of the Vieux Carre cocktail.

Sazerac Bar

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Back in the day, Huey P. Long used to order his beloved Ramos Gin Fizzes here. Today, you can get all sorts of exceptional cocktails at this Roosevelt hotel beauty, but ordering the bar's namesake, a Sazerac, is a sure bet.

The Old Absinthe House

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This 200+ year old bar in the French Quarter is a great stop for an absinthe-based pick me up—get the Absinthe Frappe—though they do boast a cocktail menu of New Orleans' most famous drinks, making this a great place to bring out-of-town visitors.

The Columns

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This Garden District gem has a beautiful mahogany bar that turns out just about any classic drink you can imagine, but drinking at The Columns is best when the weather cools down— a seat on the hotel's veranda is highly coveted, offering a gorgeous view of St. Charles Avenue.
This Freret Street trailblazer has always been at the forefront of New Orleans' new school of craft cocktail bars since opening in 2009, and still turns out the most innovative drinks in town—including at sister bars Bellocq and Cane & Table. They also do a great classic cocktail happy hour.

Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29

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When tiki historian Jeff Beachbum Berry opened this oh-so-fun upscale lounge in the Quarter in 2014, the cocktail world rejoiced. This is one of the best new bars in America—with dozens of resurrected tiki drinks on the menu, from Sinatra's favorite sipper to crazy communal wonders— run by the world's leading authority on tiki culture.

The Empire Bar at Broussard's

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Legendary bar grump Paul Gustings serves up New Orleans classics, tropical cocktails, punch, and signature drinks at this exceptional lounge in Broussard's. Bonus: The courtyard is one of the most beautiful in all of New Orleans.

Tujague's Restaurant

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Tujague's original stand-up bar is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1856, and still a nice retreat for a day drink on bustling Decatur. This is also the birthplace of The Grasshopper—yes, that glowing minty green concoction dating back to 1919.

Pat O'Brien's

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Yes, it's a spot that primarily caters to tourists with its flaming fountain, dueling pianos, and huge drinks in gaudy cups. But Pat O's is also the birthplace of The Hurricane, which relied on an influx of rum coming into port at Nola when other spirits weren't so easy to find. One could argue that Pat O's is, in fact, the city's preeminent rum bar.

Bar Tonique

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Before the onslaught of craft cocktails came rolling into New Orleans post-Katrina, Bar Tonique was the first to specialize in a new wave of well-made drinks, and they still do, along with an unpretentious vibe that's made this bar a stand out among the city's best.

Twelve Mile Limit

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This Mid City favorite bridged the gap between lowbrow dive bar and highbrow cocktail lounge when T. Cole Newton opened the doors back in 2010. It's a place where you can get a cheap beer or an incredibly crafted, original drink and not have to feel judged about it. And it's very popular with those darn, meddling youths.

Cane & Table

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Bartender Nick Detrich put proto-tiki, Colonial cocktails on the map with this rum bar from the Cure team. Tucked away in a nondescript location on Decatur, the bar consistently turns out a wealth of delicious cocktails and great Caribbean-themed bar snacks in a spot most tourists don't realize is even there, making this a local's haven.

Napoleon House Bar & Cafe

This 200 year old French Quarter landmark was once the home of a New Orleans mayor who offered the spot to Napoleon as a refuge during his exile (but the little guy never made it). Today, it's the essential spot in town for a Pimm's Cup, and it's now run by the Ralph Brennan restaurant group, so the food menu is also on point.

Arnaud's French 75 Bar

This small and jaunty bar attached to Quarter icon Arnaud's, serves up classy drinks—the Brandy Crusta and the French 75 are two classics—from beloved barman Chris Hannah, regarded as one of the best in the biz.

The Carousel Bar & Lounge

Spinning for 65+ years, this exceptional merry-go-round bar in the Hotel Monteleone (and Tales of the Cocktail hub) is one of the swankiest attractions in the Quarter and offers non-rotating seats with a great window views of Royal Street. The Ramos Gin Fizz is great here, but the hotel is known as the birthplace of the Vieux Carre cocktail.

Sazerac Bar

Back in the day, Huey P. Long used to order his beloved Ramos Gin Fizzes here. Today, you can get all sorts of exceptional cocktails at this Roosevelt hotel beauty, but ordering the bar's namesake, a Sazerac, is a sure bet.

The Old Absinthe House

This 200+ year old bar in the French Quarter is a great stop for an absinthe-based pick me up—get the Absinthe Frappe—though they do boast a cocktail menu of New Orleans' most famous drinks, making this a great place to bring out-of-town visitors.

The Columns

This Garden District gem has a beautiful mahogany bar that turns out just about any classic drink you can imagine, but drinking at The Columns is best when the weather cools down— a seat on the hotel's veranda is highly coveted, offering a gorgeous view of St. Charles Avenue.

Cure

This Freret Street trailblazer has always been at the forefront of New Orleans' new school of craft cocktail bars since opening in 2009, and still turns out the most innovative drinks in town—including at sister bars Bellocq and Cane & Table. They also do a great classic cocktail happy hour.

Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29

When tiki historian Jeff Beachbum Berry opened this oh-so-fun upscale lounge in the Quarter in 2014, the cocktail world rejoiced. This is one of the best new bars in America—with dozens of resurrected tiki drinks on the menu, from Sinatra's favorite sipper to crazy communal wonders— run by the world's leading authority on tiki culture.

The Empire Bar at Broussard's

Legendary bar grump Paul Gustings serves up New Orleans classics, tropical cocktails, punch, and signature drinks at this exceptional lounge in Broussard's. Bonus: The courtyard is one of the most beautiful in all of New Orleans.

Tujague's Restaurant

Tujague's original stand-up bar is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1856, and still a nice retreat for a day drink on bustling Decatur. This is also the birthplace of The Grasshopper—yes, that glowing minty green concoction dating back to 1919.

Pat O'Brien's

Yes, it's a spot that primarily caters to tourists with its flaming fountain, dueling pianos, and huge drinks in gaudy cups. But Pat O's is also the birthplace of The Hurricane, which relied on an influx of rum coming into port at Nola when other spirits weren't so easy to find. One could argue that Pat O's is, in fact, the city's preeminent rum bar.

Bar Tonique

Before the onslaught of craft cocktails came rolling into New Orleans post-Katrina, Bar Tonique was the first to specialize in a new wave of well-made drinks, and they still do, along with an unpretentious vibe that's made this bar a stand out among the city's best.

Twelve Mile Limit

This Mid City favorite bridged the gap between lowbrow dive bar and highbrow cocktail lounge when T. Cole Newton opened the doors back in 2010. It's a place where you can get a cheap beer or an incredibly crafted, original drink and not have to feel judged about it. And it's very popular with those darn, meddling youths.