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Side view of the Carousel Bar, a slowly-rotating bar in a hotel designed to look like a merry-go-round.
Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone.
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

These Are New Orleans’s Essential Bars

From posh to dissolute, here are New Orleans’s must-visit bars

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Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone.
| Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

With one of the highest bars per capita in the country, choosing New Orleans’s quintessential watering holes is no easy feat. This list represents a broad sampling of bars: iconic cocktail bars, neighborhood dives, hotel bars, beer bars, Irish pubs, and bars with live music — although the spots mentioned here are first and foremost bars, not music venues or restaurants.

Already well-versed in New Orleans’s essential bars? Check out the newest places to have a drink around town, or keep it lowkey with New Orleans’s essential dive bars.

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This Freret Street trailblazer has been at the forefront of New Orleans’s new school of craft cocktail bars since opening in a beautifully renovated former fire station in 2009. A good spot for those placing a premium on ambiance, it still turns out some of the most innovative drinks in town. Cure also does a great classic cocktail happy hour.

The bar at Cure.
Cure

Finn McCool's Irish Pub

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Finn’s is an Irish pub in the truest sense with devoted neighborhood regulars who gather to drink beer on tap, watch sports, play pool or darts, compete in Monday night trivia, and eat stick-to-your-ribs pub fare, including fish and chips. Because Finn’s is the city’s premier soccer viewing spot, it also draws the city’s international residents. A great place for either buddies or the solo drinker. 

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Columns

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Though new owners have rebranded the historic hotel and bar to just “Columns,” the elegant spirit and vibe at this St. Charles Avenue destination endure. Drinking here is best in mild weather — a seat on the hotel’s veranda offers a gorgeous view of St. Charles Avenue. Otherwise, multiple rooms inside replete with soaring ceilings, jewel tones, and ornate plaster trim make for prime hot toddy or Irish coffee sipping spots.

Columns bar
Columns/Official

Pal's Lounge

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Pal’s encapsulates much of what distinguishes New Orleans’ drinking culture from the rest of the country: pride of place smack in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood, a classic corner bar architecture and long bar, a quality drink for a fair price, and regulars who fill its stools with friendly banter.

The 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.

Candlelight Lounge

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The Candlelight Lounge is a neighborhood bar through and through, thanks to the late Miss Leona ‘Chine’ Grandison, Treme born and bred. Despite the tragic loss of Miss Leona to COVID-19, the bar continues, always with her in mind. A hole in the wall brought into the limelight by the HBO show Treme, this is the place for strong cash-only drinks and local brass bands, always thrumming with welcoming energy.

Candlelight Lounge. 
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Jewel of the South

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Jewel of the South is one of the most notable cocktail bars to open in New Orleans in some years (see also, Manolito). The 19th-century Creole cottage situated on the edge of the Quarter offers a classy, calm, and romantic setting, inside and out, to sample Chris Hannah’s award-winning cocktails. Just don’t miss the famous brandy crusta.

Loa Bar

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One of New Orleans’s leading cocktail bars is Loa, the impossibly chic artsy destination in the boutique International House Hotel. Talented tastemaker Abigail Gullo’s list draws from coastal cities that have intersected with New Orleans, from Sicily to Senegal, Venice to Vietnam, Haiti, and Havana. It’s without a doubt one of the city’s top hotel bars, a unique, classy experience in a memorable setting, offering drinks with equally memorable flavors.

Arnaud's French 75 Bar

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The James Beard Award-winning bar attached to Quarter icon Arnaud’s evokes the upper-crust masculinity of an intimate English club. A gorgeous polished bar, circa late 1800s, runs the length of the room. A high-quality French 75 (made old school with champagne and cognac) tops the short but eclectic menu of inventive cocktails, all a good value for an upscale venue.

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

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.

Black Penny

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Dark and woody, the Black Penny’s dimly-lit vibe evokes a pre-Thomas Edison era that remains true to the building’s 1830s roots. Don’t come to the Penny seeking wine or umbrella drinks — this is a prime spot to sit at the wrap-around bar and sample off-the-beaten-path ales. An extensive beer menu divided into taste profiles helps to guide patrons.

The Carousel Bar & Lounge

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Spinning for 70+ years, this exceptional merry-go-round bar in the Hotel Monteleone is one of the swankiest attractions in the Quarter and offers non-rotating seats with 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. There’s live music in the adjacent room some afternoons and evenings.

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Erin Rose

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Slim, unpretentious, and outfitted with a classic long bar, this perennial local favorite evokes a small Irish pub. Grab a pint or a whiskey and transition from day to night or refuel with banh mi from the Killer Po’boys window in back before heading out into the night. Or drink like a local and stay for hours while catching up with an old friend. “Wake Up and Live!” specials include bloody Marys and frozen Irish coffee.

Bar Tonique

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Boothy Bar Tonique centers on cocktails and casual glam, with exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and a hip clientele. One of New Orleans’s earliest craft bars, quality ingredients and skill still rule the day here. A selection of clever temperance drinks appeals to everyone.

Bar Tonique.
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Kermit's Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge

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With bright and jazzy murals covering every square inch of its colorful exterior, the Mother-in-Law shouts out its pride of family and music and the neighborhood that connects them. Founded by local musician Ernie K. Doe and named for his 1961 number one hit “Mother-in-Law,” the bar and patio now continues its musical stewardship under trumpet legend Kermit Ruffins who regularly plays here. Lagniappe like free crawfish boils or red beans and rice is common.

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 bars in New Orleans — with dozens of resurrected tiki drinks on the menu, from Sinatra’s favorite sipper to crazy communal wonders.

Latitude 29
Brasted/Eater NOLA

Napoleon House

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Originally built as a refuge for Napoleon Bonaparte, time seems to stand still at this 200-year-old French Quarter landmark, with its peeling plaster walls, exposed beams, classic polished bar, and opera arias playing in the background. 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.

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Cafe Lafitte in Exile

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A proud anchor of Bourbon Street’s “Fruit Loop,” Café Lafitte in Exile’s claim to fame is that it is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the country, with the ghosts of past patrons occasionally visiting. The upstairs bar and balcony hosts weekly events, including karaoke and dance parties, while the downstairs has a welcoming bar with cheap drinks and views of Bourbon Street — ideal for people watching.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

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Lafitte’s, over 300 years old, is reputed to be the oldest building in the U.S. used as a bar — it’s supposed to have been the storehouse of New Orleans privateer, read pirate, Jean Lafitte. The bar attracts less for its cocktail program than for its candle-lit, rustic, and on-theme atmosphere. And while Lafitte’s gets bustling come night, its lower Bourbon location puts some breathing room between it and the strip club scene. Keep the drinks simple here, and try the purple drink.

Manolito

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This Havana-inspired cigar box bar offers a refreshing respite from the chaos of the Quarter, but don’t tell the locals we told you — it’s so tiny everyone wishes it was a secret. Try a classic daiquiri or dive into the famed frozen menu, and just try to sip your drink slowly enough to avoid brain freeze. A delightful menu of Cuban snacks and a loft-like second level make it a nice pre-dinner stop.

Within shouting distance of both Frenchmen Street and the French Quarter, the classic corner R Bar sees its fair share of both locals and tourists. With dim lights, a pool table, and reasonably priced drinks — including a shot and haircut combo — this might be the most authentic New Orleans dive bar experience.

The Crown & Anchor

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Outfitted with rafters, hanging steins, and framed old pictures, the pint-sized Crown and Anchor offers a decidedly more ye olde tavern feel than the typical corner bar. Whether drinking alone or grabbing a few rounds with friends, this quaint and homey spot welcomes and is worth the occasional drive or ferry ride for those living across the river.

Markey's Bar

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Since 1947, family-owned Markey’s has been a Bywater social anchor. In the last years, this corner spot received a cosmetic overhaul that reflects the neighborhood’s scaling up; nevertheless Markey’s remains a quintessential Ninth Ward watering hole with TVs, shuffleboard, darts, and 27 draft beers plus a full bar.

The exterior of Markey’s bar, a deep red building with a shabby white sign. Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

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Cure

This Freret Street trailblazer has been at the forefront of New Orleans’s new school of craft cocktail bars since opening in a beautifully renovated former fire station in 2009. A good spot for those placing a premium on ambiance, it still turns out some of the most innovative drinks in town. Cure also does a great classic cocktail happy hour.

The bar at Cure.
Cure

Finn McCool's Irish Pub

Finn’s is an Irish pub in the truest sense with devoted neighborhood regulars who gather to drink beer on tap, watch sports, play pool or darts, compete in Monday night trivia, and eat stick-to-your-ribs pub fare, including fish and chips. Because Finn’s is the city’s premier soccer viewing spot, it also draws the city’s international residents. A great place for either buddies or the solo drinker. 

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Columns

Though new owners have rebranded the historic hotel and bar to just “Columns,” the elegant spirit and vibe at this St. Charles Avenue destination endure. Drinking here is best in mild weather — a seat on the hotel’s veranda offers a gorgeous view of St. Charles Avenue. Otherwise, multiple rooms inside replete with soaring ceilings, jewel tones, and ornate plaster trim make for prime hot toddy or Irish coffee sipping spots.

Columns bar
Columns/Official

Pal's Lounge

Pal’s encapsulates much of what distinguishes New Orleans’ drinking culture from the rest of the country: pride of place smack in the middle of a vibrant neighborhood, a classic corner bar architecture and long bar, a quality drink for a fair price, and regulars who fill its stools with friendly banter.

The 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.

Candlelight Lounge

The Candlelight Lounge is a neighborhood bar through and through, thanks to the late Miss Leona ‘Chine’ Grandison, Treme born and bred. Despite the tragic loss of Miss Leona to COVID-19, the bar continues, always with her in mind. A hole in the wall brought into the limelight by the HBO show Treme, this is the place for strong cash-only drinks and local brass bands, always thrumming with welcoming energy.

Candlelight Lounge. 
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Jewel of the South

Jewel of the South is one of the most notable cocktail bars to open in New Orleans in some years (see also, Manolito). The 19th-century Creole cottage situated on the edge of the Quarter offers a classy, calm, and romantic setting, inside and out, to sample Chris Hannah’s award-winning cocktails. Just don’t miss the famous brandy crusta.

Loa Bar

One of New Orleans’s leading cocktail bars is Loa, the impossibly chic artsy destination in the boutique International House Hotel. Talented tastemaker Abigail Gullo’s list draws from coastal cities that have intersected with New Orleans, from Sicily to Senegal, Venice to Vietnam, Haiti, and Havana. It’s without a doubt one of the city’s top hotel bars, a unique, classy experience in a memorable setting, offering drinks with equally memorable flavors.

Arnaud's French 75 Bar

The James Beard Award-winning bar attached to Quarter icon Arnaud’s evokes the upper-crust masculinity of an intimate English club. A gorgeous polished bar, circa late 1800s, runs the length of the room. A high-quality French 75 (made old school with champagne and cognac) tops the short but eclectic menu of inventive cocktails, all a good value for an upscale venue.

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

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.

Black Penny

Dark and woody, the Black Penny’s dimly-lit vibe evokes a pre-Thomas Edison era that remains true to the building’s 1830s roots. Don’t come to the Penny seeking wine or umbrella drinks — this is a prime spot to sit at the wrap-around bar and sample off-the-beaten-path ales. An extensive beer menu divided into taste profiles helps to guide patrons.

The Carousel Bar & Lounge

Spinning for 70+ years, this exceptional merry-go-round bar in the Hotel Monteleone is one of the swankiest attractions in the Quarter and offers non-rotating seats with 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. There’s live music in the adjacent room some afternoons and evenings.

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Erin Rose

Slim, unpretentious, and outfitted with a classic long bar, this perennial local favorite evokes a small Irish pub. Grab a pint or a whiskey and transition from day to night or refuel with banh mi from the Killer Po’boys window in back before heading out into the night. Or drink like a local and stay for hours while catching up with an old friend. “Wake Up and Live!” specials include bloody Marys and frozen Irish coffee.

Bar Tonique

Boothy Bar Tonique centers on cocktails and casual glam, with exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and a hip clientele. One of New Orleans’s earliest craft bars, quality ingredients and skill still rule the day here. A selection of clever temperance drinks appeals to everyone.

Bar Tonique.
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Kermit's Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge

With bright and jazzy murals covering every square inch of its colorful exterior, the Mother-in-Law shouts out its pride of family and music and the neighborhood that connects them. Founded by local musician Ernie K. Doe and named for his 1961 number one hit “Mother-in-Law,” the bar and patio now continues its musical stewardship under trumpet legend Kermit Ruffins who regularly plays here. Lagniappe like free crawfish boils or red beans and rice is common.

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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 bars in New Orleans — with dozens of resurrected tiki drinks on the menu, from Sinatra’s favorite sipper to crazy communal wonders.

Latitude 29
Brasted/Eater NOLA

Napoleon House

Originally built as a refuge for Napoleon Bonaparte, time seems to stand still at this 200-year-old French Quarter landmark, with its peeling plaster walls, exposed beams, classic polished bar, and opera arias playing in the background. 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.

Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Cafe Lafitte in Exile

A proud anchor of Bourbon Street’s “Fruit Loop,” Café Lafitte in Exile’s claim to fame is that it is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the country, with the ghosts of past patrons occasionally visiting. The upstairs bar and balcony hosts weekly events, including karaoke and dance parties, while the downstairs has a welcoming bar with cheap drinks and views of Bourbon Street — ideal for people watching.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

Lafitte’s, over 300 years old, is reputed to be the oldest building in the U.S. used as a bar — it’s supposed to have been the storehouse of New Orleans privateer, read pirate, Jean Lafitte. The bar attracts less for its cocktail program than for its candle-lit, rustic, and on-theme atmosphere. And while Lafitte’s gets bustling come night, its lower Bourbon location puts some breathing room between it and the strip club scene. Keep the drinks simple here, and try the purple drink.

Manolito

This Havana-inspired cigar box bar offers a refreshing respite from the chaos of the Quarter, but don’t tell the locals we told you — it’s so tiny everyone wishes it was a secret. Try a classic daiquiri or dive into the famed frozen menu, and just try to sip your drink slowly enough to avoid brain freeze. A delightful menu of Cuban snacks and a loft-like second level make it a nice pre-dinner stop.

R Bar

Within shouting distance of both Frenchmen Street and the French Quarter, the classic corner R Bar sees its fair share of both locals and tourists. With dim lights, a pool table, and reasonably priced drinks — including a shot and haircut combo — this might be the most authentic New Orleans dive bar experience.

The Crown & Anchor

Outfitted with rafters, hanging steins, and framed old pictures, the pint-sized Crown and Anchor offers a decidedly more ye olde tavern feel than the typical corner bar. Whether drinking alone or grabbing a few rounds with friends, this quaint and homey spot welcomes and is worth the occasional drive or ferry ride for those living across the river.

Markey's Bar

Since 1947, family-owned Markey’s has been a Bywater social anchor. In the last years, this corner spot received a cosmetic overhaul that reflects the neighborhood’s scaling up; nevertheless Markey’s remains a quintessential Ninth Ward watering hole with TVs, shuffleboard, darts, and 27 draft beers plus a full bar.

The exterior of Markey’s bar, a deep red building with a shabby white sign. Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Related Maps