You’ve heard the rumors. Now you want to see for yourself whether New Orleans lives up to its party city reputation. Well, we’re here to tell you that no amount of rumors, reading or recommendations could prepare you for the madness that is NOLA.
From the infamous Bourbon Street to the beautiful Garden District, New Orleans is packed with bars that are more than worthy of inclusion in your BUCKiTDREAM planner. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all the incredible options, start with these NOLA mainstays to ensure you have the best time while you’re in the Big Easy.
Viva la France at Arnaud’s French 75 During the days of the Cazenave family, Arnaud’s French 75 was a strictly gentlemen-only area. Thankfully, due to the dawn of common sense, the bar is now open to everyone of every shape, size, and gender. With a heavy emphasis on premium spirits and classic cocktails, Arnaud’s French 75 serves up some of the tastiest, most inventive drinks you’ll ever have. Make sure to show your appreciation to the ultra-dapper bartender Chris Hannah, a notorious rock star of the bartending game.
Address: 813 Rue Bienville
Drink By Candlelight At Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Named after Jean Lafitte, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is rumored to be the oldest bar in the United States. Sure, the outside of this place makes it look like it doesn’t even have electricity — and that’s because it doesn’t — but don’t let that deter you! Drinking by candlelight in Lafitte’s is exactly what makes it stand out from other garish, trashy bars in town. Oh, and while you’re here, watch out for the band of merry pirates that have long haunted the joint.
Address: 941 Bourbon Street
Solve Your Problems At Cure If you’re looking for something less like an old-world dive bar and more like a modern, chic cocktail haunt, then look no further than relative newcomer Cure. A trailblazer in the city’s cocktail scene, Cure whips up some of the dreamiest cocktails you can imagine. Our current obsessions are Monsters in the Mist (a grapefruit and spice variation of the classic fog cutter cocktail) and the Waltz # 2 (a honey, pear, and cardamom Champagne cocktail). And yes, they do have a rather generous happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Address: 4905 Freret Street
Haul Out the Holly At Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge If there’s one thing that New Orleans has perfected, it’s the dive bar, and Snake and Jake’s might be the dive bar to end all dive bars. Not for the faint-hearted, this bar is a trailer-cum-North Pole complete with Christmas lights that shine bright year-round. If it’s luxury you’re looking for, Snake and Jake’s sure as hell ain’t for you, but if you’re interested in great drinks, strange surroundings, and some of the most interesting characters you’ll ever meet, then there’s no place quite like it.
Address: 7612 Oak Street
Take a Ride At Carousel A favorite among locals and visitors alike, the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone is New Orleans’ only revolving bar. And with the extensive list of cocktails, you can add your head to the list of things that will be spinning here! Carousel is such a good haunt that Vogue Living recently added it to their list of top 20 bars in the world. Carousel is also the birthplace of the delectable Vieux Carre cocktail, so be sure to grab one while you’re here as well as one of the highly coveted rotating seats that circle the bar.
Address: 214 Royal Street
Commit a Sin At the Saint With some of the cheapest drinks to grace NOLA nightlife, The Saint has long been an industry favorite for the overworked bartenders of the city. If you’re looking to dance your ass off to some of New Orleans’ best DJs while simultaneously slamming some suspiciously generous whiskey shots, then the Saint is your joint! Arrive well after 1 a.m. to get the full effect of the tiki cocktail-fueled madness.
Address: 961 Saint Mary Street
Don’t Get Lost Looking For the Rusty Nail The Rusty Nail is one of the city’s lesser-known bars. Having earned the all-important local seal of approval, the Rusty Nail provides patrons with a homey vibe, which centers around its very cool outdoor seating area. The chill atmosphere, great surroundings and (hopefully) enjoyable company makes the Rusty Nail an oasis in the heart of the New Orleans madness. Oh, and it’s hands down the best spot in the city to catch a Saints game.
Address: 1102 Constance Street
End Up At the Old Absinthe House For the past 200 — that’s right, 200! — years, Old Absinthe House has been a mainstay of the social scene in New Orleans. If the weird, wild and wonderful décor isn’t enough to make you fall in love with the place, the brandy milk punch will be. Previous patrons of this NOLA legend include Mark Twain, P.T. Barnum and Oscar Wilde, and we truly believe that if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us! Before you leave, make your mark on the bar by adding your card to the thousands of business cards that adorn its walls.
Address: 240 Bourbon Street
Whether you make it to one or all of these bars, one thing is for sure: Wherever you go in this beautiful city, you’re bound to have one of the best nights of your life. Once you’ve filled up on all the insane drinks New Orleans has to offer, why not try out the 5 Best Cajun Restaurants in New Orleans. Don’t forget to share your wildest NOLA memories on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.