Its first distinction may be the cuisine, but New Orleans is equally famous for being one of the cocktail meccas of the world. Flaunting a liquid history that dates back to the 17th century, the Big Easy is the birthplace of classic libations like the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz. Fast-forward to present day, and you’ll find updated renditions of OG sips and to-go cups available at every bar, making the imbibing possibilities endless. From the low-ABV to the boozy, here’s where you need to drink in the Big Easy now.
New Orleans Classics
Touting unmatched Southern charm, elegance, and history, Brennan’s is a New Orleans classic that offers an equally classic cocktail to match. The restaurant’s Brandy Milk Punch—consisting of Napoleon brandy, half & half, simple syrup, vanilla extract, and garnished with French nutmeg—is the perfect daybreak libation. If you’re overly indulgent, enjoy this mainstay with the Brennan’s tableside banana foster.
The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone
Overlooking the famed Royal Street, The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone is a 25-seat revolving bar that attracts both locals and visitors alike. Cop the low-ABV Pimm’s Cup, garnished here with mint and strawberry for a refreshing twist, in between bar hopping.
Zero pretension is the name of the game at Erin Rose. Just off the corner of Bourbon Street, this Irish pub is popular amongst local artists and musicians that perform in the area. Served in an opaque plastic cup, the bar’s Frozen Irish Coffee is the business. The perfect respite from New Orleans’ hot climate, this frozen treat is made from a secret recipe that balances sweet, creamy, and cool.
Modern Watering Holes
With a James Beard Award nomination under its belt, Cure begs the question, who run this motha? If you answered with the next stanza of the song, you’re right, as the cocktails found at this high-concept bar are shaken and stirred by a mostly female bar staff. Enjoy one of the menu’s riffs on a classic, like the TBD Swizzle, made with Jamaican rum, Madeira sherry, and layers of banana, spice, hazelnut, and Chinese rhubarb.
Beachbum Barry’s Latitude 29
Take a walk on the tiki side at the island-inspired outpost that is Beachbum Barry’s Latitude 29. While the decor may suggest a mai tai or daiquiri, aim for the masterfully blended Pontchartrain Pearl Diver, a buttered rum-based beverage served cold and blended with passion fruit and lime. Sip. Savor. Repeat.
From the creative minds behind the Commander’s Palace family of restaurants, SoBou’s cocktails are spearheaded by bartender badass Laura Belluci, who works closely with the restaurant’s chef, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, to keep culinary flair at the forefront of each sipper. Enter the Stamos Gin Fizz, a not-on-the-menu riff on the classic, that’s Greek yogurt-based and a true gourmand experience that’ll have you saying “have mercy” with every sip.
When you’re all cocktailed out, head to Bacchanal, located in Bywater. Defined as a “wine laboratory,” Bacchanal is part retail shop, part outdoor garden party where BYOB is not an option, but a prerequisite. Purchase your wine of choice—cue rosé, because humidity—at the front, then head to the back where buckets, a large cooler of ice, and music al fresco await.
An equally desired thirst quencher in cocktail-heavy New Orleans is beer. Head over to Alibi’s, an open-all-day bar that’s the perfect last call after an evening on Bourbon Street. Whether you’re a domestic, international, or a craft beer lover, they got you.
About 20 minutes from the Quarter, DTB, short for Down the Bayou, blends modern design and coastal Cajun cuisine to offer a weekend enthusiast’s dream: Monday brunch. Appropriately categorized under the “Daydrinking” menu, DTB’s Oak Street Spritz swaps the soda for Cathead Honeysuckle vodka, produced at Cathead Distillery, Mississippi’s first legal distillery.