There are a lot of bars in New Orleans. Frankly, the city itself could be considered a bar in its own right. But in order to find the good ones, you have to filter through a lot of places you would never go to, unless you’re on your second cousin’s bachelor/bachelorette party, or looking for your seventh bar of the night. Between location, atmosphere, price, volume level, and crowd, there are a lot of things to consider, but that’s what we’re here for because just like you, we prefer to drink at good places, which is why we put this list together. Use our guide as a starting point and see where your night takes you, and if three hours later you need a good option far away from Bourbon Street, we’ve got you covered.
Check out our complete list of New Orleans restaurants and bars here.
Located in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel, the Sazerac Bar has barely changed since it opened in the 1930s. No, the namesake drink wasn’t invented here, but they do make great cocktails and it’s a bar that feels like it’s seen a lot, partially because of the bullet hole in the wall from an attempted hit gone wrong. This place is regularly filled with everyone from local politicians to bachelorette parties, and it’s a great spot to start a night before taking the inevitable walk down Bourbon Street.
It’s hard to tell if Cane & Table is a restaurant with great drinks, or a fancy cocktail bar that serves surprisingly good food. Either way, it’s one of our favorite spots in the French Quarter and their big back courtyard is the perfect place to escape the chaos of nearby Bourbon Street. They have one of the most diverse cocktail menus in the city and serve a mix of great small plates and entrees for when you get hungry. Whether you need a place for a big group or somewhere for a date, Cane & Table has you covered.
Yes, this bar is built into an actual moving carousel inside the Hotel Monteleone and also yes, it’s a little gimmicky. That said, it’s still a fun place to grab a drink. At all hours of the day, you’ll find a mix of tourists draped in beads and hotel guests pre and post-gaming weddings, all of whom are enamored with the bar that spins slowly enough to barely notice until you’re actually seated on one of the stools.
Bar Tonique is a cocktail spot just three blocks from Bourbon Street where you can sit at a big U-shaped bar, enjoy a well-made drink, and breathe for a minute. The bartenders here take their cocktails very seriously and, as a result, each drink requires a few minutes to make. At the same time though, they have a daily $5 cocktail, meaning you can have two mai tais or Moscow mules before paying the same amount for one daiquiri at your next stop down the street.
Located just west of downtown in the Lower Garden District, Barrel Proof is a spacious whiskey bar that serves lots of cocktails and $1 High Lifes. Really though, you come here for the 288 varieties of whiskey that they carry. If you get hungry after a few drinks, they serve food until midnight, Wednesday through Saturday, and host local pop-ups the rest of the time, too.
The Bulldog is a beer bar in Uptown with a big patio and some of the best bar food in the city. It’s far away enough from the French Quarter that you don’t have to worry about too many bachelor parties or herds of tourists taking over, unless they come specifically to check out the big beer selection, of course. If you’re looking for a chill night during your next visit to New Orleans, make sure to spend a night on the patio here.
In recent years, New Orleans has seen a lot of new craft breweries pop up, but our favorite is Parleaux Beer Lab. This brewery-meets-beer garden is located at the far end of the Bywater, near The Joint and Bacchanal, and, along with serving plenty of seasonal beers, it hosts different food trucks most nights of the week. Stop by for a few brews and some food, or you can even catch a yoga class here in the morning if you want.
At the far end of the Bywater, you’ll find Bacchanal, a weird little wine shop that evolved into a wine garden utopia and one of the coolest places you can spend a night in New Orleans. After you pick out a bottle, head outside to the big backyard where you can drink, order cheese and charcuterie, and catch live music every night of the week. There’s also a semi-secret cocktail and wine bar upstairs, which is the perfect place to take in the scene and survey the backyard for available seats.
After you get out of a show at Tipitina’s, walk up to Le Bon Temps Roule to play some pool, catch another show, or just drink until morning. This dive doesn’t close, ever, and is always filled with locals at any hour of the day, so regardless of when you need a shot or a beer, or just want to ask someone in the know what “lagniappe” means, come here.
New Orleans is full of late-night bars, but The Saint Bar and Lounge in the Lower Garden District has both a big back patio and a foggy dance floor with DJs until 4am. It feels a little bit like a cross between a biker bar and an actual cave, but it’s great for when you feel like drinking cheap beers and dancing with like-minded strangers until dawn.
When you go out in the Marigny, one way or another you end up at Mimi’s, which stays open until 4am. This place finds a way of sucking you in, whether it’s to grab a few beers and play pool on the ground floor, or for the surprisingly good tapas and great balcony on the second. Mimi’s is definitely a locals spot, but all of the regulars are extremely friendly and eager to tell you about the neighborhood, so don’t be surprised if your supposed nightcap turns into an hour-long New Orleans history overview instead.
When you want to stop somewhere for cheap drinks and late-night Vietnamese food, go to Lost Love Lounge. This bar is as divey as it gets and whether you head here from Frenchmen or before going to Mimi’s nearby, it’s a great place to refuel with some pho or a banh mi before finishing off or continuing on with your night. They also have video poker and a pool table, in case you’re looking for activities besides just drinking while you wait for your food.
There are roughly 582 bars on Bourbon Street, and most of them aren’t worth your time, unless your goal is to end up on stage with an AC/DC cover band. Rather than give your friends the pleasure of watching you do that, head to Lafitte’s instead. It’s one of the oldest bars in America, and their frozen daiquiris provide all the energy you’ll need to bob and weave through the mix of bachelor parties, college kids, and tourists that clog the street each night.
The Maple Leaf isn’t a bar you’re going to randomly stumble upon, but if you’re looking for the best place to check out some local brass bands, make the trip to the Carrollton neighborhood in Uptown. This place hosts shows nightly, which usually go until 4am at least, and if you want to dance with a bunch of locals and Tulane alumni trying to relive their college years, this is the place to go. Try to come on Tuesday night, when Rebirth Brass Band, which is one of the best in the city, has a weekly show.
Almost every place on Frenchmen hosts lives music each night and it’s easy enough to just bar hop up and down the street until you find one you like. Most likely, though, that’s going to be the Blue Nile. On any given night, you can hear funk, blues, jazz, or brass, depending on what time of the night you stop by. It can get pretty packed inside since they tend to host the bigger brass bands, but this place also has a large balcony on the second floor where you can still hear the music and drink, but without being stuck in the crowd.
There’s no shortage of places to see a show in New Orleans. Seriously, just walk to Frenchmen Street, close your eyes, and point. But Tipitina’s in Uptown is an institution and one of the best places to go for music in the whole city. Stand wherever you feel like, but we suggest the balcony, which has a great view and easy access to a bar. National acts regularly play here, but look for a night with a local brass band instead.
The Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Street looks like the blueprint for any “New Orleans-style bar” that you’ve ever been to elsewhere. There’s random artwork of musicians, money is stapled to the wall above the bar, and everything sort of looks secondhand. But it’s also one of the most low-key bars on the street, and since it’s smaller than the rest, the shows there feel way more intimate than elsewhere on Frenchmen.