There is a revolution happening in New Orleans and it will not be televised; however, it can certainly be tasted. A new generation of Crescent City bartenders has refreshed the city’s cocktail scene, whose impact on cocktail history is akin to what Wayne Gretzky did for the sport of hockey. In fact, New Orleans is so smitten with its libations that it is the only U.S. city to have an official drink written into legislation; Sazerac, a blend of rye whiskey, sugar and Peychaud’s biters, is the city’s official cocktail. In honor of Mardi Gras, which falls on March 4 this year, we put together our top six spots in New Orleans to experience the city’s passion for cocktail culture.
This brick-walled lounge on North Rampart Street in the French Quarter draws its inspiration from a bygone era when hand crafted cocktails were made without pretense. A favorite among local bartenders for its neighborhood feel and delicious libations, Bar Tonique has an amazing cocktail menu that features original, adapted and classic cocktails made with the premium ingredients, such as fresh juices and the bar’s own infused tonic waters. Additionally, its bartenders are some of the most knowledgeable in New Orleans and can point you to your perfect drink if you’re not sure where to begin.
Website: Bar Tonique | Address: 820 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70116
This elegant bar in the heart of the French Quarter is a perfect example of a bar that truly represents its city. Great service, remarkable cocktails and a deep history are all hallmarks of French 75. Bartender Chris Hannah is a bartender’s bartender and considered to be one of New Orleans’ finest. With Hannah at the helm, French 75 is at the forefront of Crescent City’s reinvigorated cocktail movement. When things get a little too crowd inside, take your drink upstairs to the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum (free) and bask in the ball gowns and memorabilia of Mardi Gras’ past.
Website: Arnaud’s French 75 | Address: 813 Rue Bienville New Orleans, La 70112
For those of you who like seasonal cocktail menus, then this restaurant and bar is for you. Located in the French Quarter, the playful atmosphere that radiates throughout the Green Goddess is only made brighter by its stellar cocktail menu, featuring unique recipes made with fresh ingredients and high quality liquors.
Website: Green Goddess | Address: 307 Exchange Place, New Orleans, LA 70130
Pascal’s Manale is an institution in New Orleans. This old-school Uptown restaurant has been serving its famous Barbeque Shrimp and Italian specialties since 1913. A favorite among sports players and entertainers—Beyonce dined here before the 2013 Super Bowl—its walls are overflowing with autographed photos from its famous clientele. But Pascal’s Manale is also a favorite of cocktail loving locals too, especially those who like whiskey. Bartender Eddie Boudreaux’s Old Fashion, in which he still muddles the cherry and orange slice, is a must-try and reason enough to visit.
Website: Pascal’s Manale | Address: 1838 Napoleon Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115
This new cocktail lounge in The Hotel Modern New Orleans has quickly made a name for itself by reviving cocktails that were nearly extinct. It’s reported that the bartenders at Bellocq spent a lot of time researching and then recreating century-old cocktails for its menu. Even the bar’s name is an homage to Crescent City’s pre-prohibition past. E. J. Bellocq was a marine photographer who photographed New Orleans’ red-light district prostitutes.
Website: Bellocq | Address: 936 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Despite its location on the first floor of the historic Hotel Monteleone, this storied bar couldn’t be farther away from the typical hotel-bar scene. Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway all drank here and the bar is staffed by some of the best bartenders in the country who know the classics. If that’s not enough for you, well the bar is an actual revolving carousel too, and the adjoining piano bar has live music on the weekends.
Website: Carousel Revolving Bar | Address: 214 Royal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130