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NOLA Cocktail Culture

Featured Guide

On my way to Jazz Fest one year, (relatively) early in the day, I asked an older gentleman sitting outside a bar if he knew where I could get a bite to eat. "New Orleans isn't a breakfast kind of town," he told me. It's always been a drinking kind of town, punctuated with historic moments like the birth of the Sazerac. The cocktail scene evolving in today’s New Orleans is no less momentous. Whether inspired libations from big-name mixologists or concoctions crafted in the unlikeliest of places, they’re all worth a taste. 

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Windsor Court Hotel

The Windsor Court feels pristine from the moment you clear the high gate around its secluded front drive; it's probably the only hotel along Canal that has more than plain old city curb to greet its guests. It's pristine and airy throughout, the very picture of a luxury hotel. The bar is just as...

Twelve Mile Limit

Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, Twelve Mile is that perfect contradiction: a lowbrow bar serving high-end cocktails for less than you'd pay in another city (or the French Quarter, for that matter). Bartenders measure and mix up drinks like the Baudin and Gread Idea (it totally is) with...

The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Collection Hotel

The Roosevelt is beautiful. It's also home to the Sazerac bar, as historic as it is storied. When Huey Long couldn't get a satisfactory Ramos Gin Fizz in New York, he had the Roosevelt send the head bartender to teach Manhattan how to mix his favorite cocktail. The Sazerac has been setting the standard...

Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans

The Royal Sonesta plays host to many of the tastings and panels for Tales of the Cocktail, the annual meeting of spirited minds from around the world. These rooms have seen everything, from remarkably scientific discussion of blue gin to buttoned-up beverage professionals cozying up to an ice...

Bouligny Tavern

This isn't what you'd expect of a tavern. It's a converted Uptown house that's all New Orleans outside, sleek and modern inside. The cocktails are well-regarded tipples featuring of-the-moment spirits like cachaça as well as infusions like vodka mellowed with oolong tea. The small plates menu is...

Bar Tonique

More a neighborhood bar with great cocktails than a cocktail bar, there's nonetheless an element of hipster-chic about this place. My first time there I tasted their take on the Moscow mule and it's become the standard against which I compare other versions. Located on N. Rampart just across from...

Cane & Table

The spot on lower Decatur that was once home to Pravda looks like it's been stripped down to bare walls. Using that to its aesthetic advantage, Cane & Table (from the guys behind Cure) takes on a Cuban ex-pat vibe complete with coladas served out of hollowed pineapples (yes, seriously). The cocktail...

Hotel Modern New Orleans

The Hotel Modern, which lights up Lee Circle with its colorful glow, boasts two bars. One is inside the sleek Tivoli & Lee restaurant, while the other is a little more sultry. Bellocq (namesake of the photographer known for his early 20th century Storyville portraits) features cocktails of the same...

French 75 Bar

Bartender Chris Hannah brings to cocktails "a delicate balance of the old and the new," advocated by Count Arnaud, the man who opened the famed restaurant of which French 75 is a part. That means iconic New Orleans drinks with a twist, though sometimes the twist is that they're made with ingredients...

Sylvain Restaurant

Ask a New Orleans bartender where he or she goes to have a drink, and two names come out above the rest: Erin Rose, a late-night spot off Bourbon, and Sylvain. The cocktails here are complex and the bartenders knowledgeable. I was offered a taste of the rhum agricole that formed the base of one of my...