New Orleans’ reputation as one of the most boozy cities in America hails all the way back to the 1830s, when the Sazerac cocktail was created by Antoine Amédée Peychaud at his pharmacy on Royal Street. Originally, the main ingredient was Cognac, but, in the 1870s, rye whiskey was substituted due to changing tastes and a Cognac shortage—a dash of Absinthe was also added. The Sazerac is now the official cocktail of New Orleans. Over the years, these famous libations were also dreamed up in New Orleans: Brandy Crusta (1850), Brandy Milk Punch (1862), Ramos Gin Fizz (1888), Vieux Carré (1930s), French 75 (1918) and The Hurricane (1940s).
Because of this rich history, Tales of the Cocktail began in 2002, and has grown from a walking tour of historic bars into the world’s largest cocktail festival. Each year, bartenders, bar owners, cocktail lovers and alcohol brands gather over their passion for mixology. You can recreate your own alcohol-fueled adventure at our favorite bars, with a mix of classic cocktails and more modern sips. Cheers!
9 Best Cocktail Bars in New Orleans
Hidden alongside the Maison de la Lutz hotel, this library-inspired watering hole features an ornate décor spanning tiger-striped carpet and bar stools (with fringe, of course), velvet drapery and elegant couches. The beverage program is influenced by France with signature cocktails like Jardin de Mémé (with St. Germain and absinthe), Petite Bétise (Byrrh and lavender) and Femme Fatale (Lillet rose and bubbles).
- Address: 544 Carondelet St.
- Phone: 504-814-7711
It’s always a celebration at this cheery bar, with over 200 of the best Champagne and sparkling wines by the glass and bottle, including bubbly flights. Don’t miss their rendition of the time-honored French 75, or the Hemingway Classic with Louis Roederer Champagne and Vieux Pontarlier absinthe. Because bubbles are always a good idea!
- Address: 1036 N. Rampart St.
- Phone: 504-509-7644
Steeped in history, this is the spot for New Orleans’ signature Sazerac cocktail as well as the Ramos Gin Fizz, which was invented here in 1888 and originally required 12 minutes of shaking by hand! Now, the white-tuxedo-clad servers do less wrist work, but they will happily tell you about the origins of these drinks and prepare them with precision.
- Address: 130 Roosevelt Way
- Phone: 504-648-1200
Ideal for whiskey lovers, this Lower Garden District bar boasts over 300 whiskies, bourbons, ryes and scotches. Fittingly, the ambiance is dark and cozy, outfitted with leather tufted sofas, hunting trophies and polished wood.
Address: 1201 Magazine St.
This old school institution literally revolves around a century-old 25-seat carousel with 360-degree bar in the middle. Sip on classic Big Easy cocktails like Brandy Milk Punch, Sazerac and Vieux Carré, while you channel infamous patrons and authors Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner and Truman Capote.
- Address: 214 Royal St.
- Phone: 504-523-3341
Locals flock here for owner T Cole Newton’s complex cocktails, weekly Brunch Punch, dive bar ambiance and affordable prices. Currently only open on the weekends, this is the neighborhood tavern you’ve been searching for.
- Address: 1036 North Rampart Street
- Phone: 504-509-7644
A former fire station (circa 1903) turned upscale bar, Cure is credited with pioneering the craft cocktail movement in New Orleans. The libations served are groundbreaking and gorgeous, from the Rhinestone Cowboy, a seasonal Champagne cocktail, to the Fancy Sazerac, which is, well, a fancy version of the classic.
- Address: 4905 Freret St.
- Phone: 504-302-2357
As the name implies, you’ll find Nola’s best rendition of the French 75 (Courvoisier VS, sugar, lemon and Moët & Chandon) at this elegant bar. While the sips of the past are showcased, they won the James Beard Award of Excellence for their Outstanding Bar Program for their modern mixology.
- Address: 813 Rue Bienville
- Phone: 504-523-5433
It might be the number one tourist spot in New Orleans, but it’s still worth visiting for the original Hurricane (which was invented here by O’Brien himself in the 1940s due to a surplus in rum) and the dueling pianos. In keeping with the hurricane theme, there’s also the Cat-5 Margarita, The Cyclone and The Rainstorm.
- Address: 718 St. Peter Street
- Phone: 504-525-4823
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