If you’re looking for the best bars in New Orleans, you’ll quickly learn why “you can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning” and “New Orleans is for livers” are prominent local battle cries. In fact, New Orleans is ranked as having some of the most bars per capita in the country, and we’re pretty proud of it.
But with so many great bars scattered throughout the unique and historic neighborhoods of New Orleans, how is one supposed to pick? Fortunately, I did the heavy [beer] lifting, so you don’t have to! So without further ado, here are the best bars, pubs, and lounges New Orleans has to offer so you and your liver can get to work and prove once and for all that New Orleans is more than just Mardi Gras!
1. Napoleon House
Admittedly as you walk up to its crumbling facade, the Napoleon House might not look like a safe place to enjoy a drink. However, I highly recommend this historic, early 20th-century home for its courtly staff, New Orleans staples, and a courtyard brimming with healthy palms. Go up the stairs and enjoy the private balcony French Quarter view at the corner of Chartres and St. Louis.
2. NOLA Brewery
NOLA Brewery provides not only a great selection of local craft beer but also McClure’s Barbecue, some of the best in the city. Offering selections from imperial IPAs to smokey chocolate stouts and mouth-puckering sours, NOLA brewery has options for just about any taste bud.
3. Balcony Bar & Cafe
This neighborhood bar is a great stop if you’re looking to shoot some pool while enjoying some late-night eating and drinking. Balcony Bar can be a great place to mingle because of its simple, no-frills atmosphere that tends to draw smaller, friendly local crowds. With a lot of great regional beers on tap and easy access to lots of other great bars on Magazine Street, you can’t go wrong.
4. Urban South Brewery
With a busy working brewery backdrop, this huge warehouse space is easily my favorite spot to grab a beer. Complete with foosball, pool, and arcade games, Urban South is a great spot for people interested in getting up close and personal with their brews. The staff are absolutely wonderful and the beer selection is constantly changing.
5. The Avenue Pub
The Garden District neighborhood of New Orleans has been long celebrated for its charm architecture, storied past, and selection of fine dining and drinking. With an impressive selection of beer on tap and in a laid-back atmosphere, Avenue Pub is a great spot for locals and tourists alike. Enjoy an umbrella-shaded balcony view of the historic streetcar line, charming St. Charles, and downtown skyline while enjoying a cool craft cocktail or beer.
6. Barrel Proof
This rustic, wood paneled bar is the wet dream of any whiskey and bourbon lover. With a huge assortment (288 to be exact) of barrel-aged libations and a generous daily happy hour, you can try out New Orleans signature cocktails like the Sazerac or Ramos Gin Fizz in delicious style. Barrel Proof’s muted lights, warm wood, tin accents, and watchful taxidermy specimen makes for a quaint, yet masculine atmosphere to be enjoyed by all whiskey enthusiasts.
7. Bakery Bar
Bakery Bar combines two of my favorite things: sweet, delicious baked goods and refreshing, tapped beer. The staff are incredibly friendly, the atmosphere is saccharine, and their assortment of refreshments are delicious. Perhaps the best example of the establishment’s welcoming, good-natured character is spelled out on their website, “Everyone is welcome at Bakery Bar, except jerks. Please don’t be a jerk.” So, stop by with a good attitude and grab a brew, baked good, and book or board game from their community shelf for a truly legendary start to your weekend.
8. Tchoup Yard
The Tchoup Yard is made for New Orleans breezy summer nights. String lights are laced through the trees year-round providing soft lighting to enjoy a creative cocktail by. It’s a magical outdoor space to explore, with nearby food trucks and easy access to additional bars downtown or in the adjacent Irish Channel neighborhood.
After a few drinks, you might wager a beer to see who in your group can spell (or even pronounce) its namesake and address– Tchoupitoulas. But, to be honest, it’s pretty difficult sober.
9. The Bulldog
With over 50 beers on tap and over 100 bottled, The Bulldog is a local favorite for a reason. Stop in and stock up on souvenirs Wednesdays, when their witty (and sometimes raunchy) pint glasses are free with the purchase of a beer. The Bulldog is dog-friendly and offers a good selection of bar food in a casual atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating.
10. Molly’s at the Market
If you find yourself feeling a bit overstimulated downtown, Molly’s is my favorite escape. Despite being close to the excitement, this bar is pretty laid-back and rarely overcrowded. Sipping a famous Molly’s Frozen Irish Coffee while enjoying crackling selections from their retro jukebox is my favorite way to end a long (and fun-filled) Friday or Saturday night out.
11. Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits
Bacchanal is a cozy spot for a romantic date or girls night out. Go there to enjoy live jazz 7-nights a week on their patio, or balcony brightened with string lights, while indulging in their delicious assortment of cocktails and inventive small plates. Nab a Pimm’s Cup or Dark and Stormy from the balcony bar and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the band as they jam out and actively engage the crowd.
12. Bayou Beer Garden/ Bayou Wine Garden
This cottage-turned-sports-bar offers a wide assortment of beers, with a little something for everyone. Depending on your mood, there’s a private front porch or a spacious back patio with weekly trivia and bar food, both of which boast a relaxed, dog-friendly environment. Adjacent Bayou Wine Garden provides some southern bistro-style fare which is on the lighter side, and their own selection of wine options, including frozen.
13. Tracey’s Original Irish Channel Bar
Tracey’s is a beloved Irish pub located in the heart of the New Orleans neighborhood known as the Irish Channel. They offer a great selection of beers and bar food in a comfortable atmosphere. A great place to enjoy a holiday, game, or special occasion as the staff is friendly, helpful, and frequently hilarious.
14. Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge
Inside Hotel Monteleone, one of the most iconic and historic New Orleans hotels, is a beautifully rotating carousel bar. The Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge is romantically swanky, lush with an assortment of tinkling decanters and twinkling lights. Bartenders here are lively, welcoming, and skilled at crafting delicious drinks and keeping up with patrons as they slowly rotate about the room.
15. Pat O’Brien’s Bar
Probably New Orleans’ most famous bar, Pat O’s is famous for their colossal Hurricane, which is appropriately named “The Magnum”. I strongly encourage you share this three-gallon drink with your friends unless you’re ready for a category five-sized hangover. Write music requests for the dueling pianos on cocktail napkins, but consider providing a monetary “incentive” or you might be waiting a while.
16. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Serving the best Hurricanes since the 1700’s, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop was the haunt of the notorious New Orleans pirate hero, Jean Lafitte, and considered the oldest operating bar in America. This historic bar, which is illuminated only by candles, is even said to be frequently visited by its namesake. In fact, cautious gentlemen patrons might consider taking a pitstop elsewhere, as multiple visitors have complained of mysterious encounters in the men’s restroom.
17. Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge
This legendary New Orleans dive bar provides a folksy shack-like setting that stays open extra late to accommodate any itches you need scratched. You can jam out to their jukebox under their retro holiday decor, which hangs year-round or enjoy their late-night happy hour specials.
18. Finn McCool’s Irish Pub
If you’re looking to grab a cold beer amongst other sports enthusiasts, consider checking out Finn McCool’s Irish Pub. Finn’s is the New Orleans watering hole for soccer and sports lovers and has an assortment of large tvs and friendly bartenders in a laid-back environment.
This historic bar and restaurant has been serving up Creole dishes since 1856– originally catering to New Orleans merchants at the nearby port. Tujague’s (pronounced too-jax) is a great place to grab some traditional bites or specialty cocktails while you roam the historic French Quarter. Notable past visitors include President Roosevelt, Rockefeller, and Dan Akroyd and heartthrob, Harrison Ford… so you know you’re in good company.
20. The Tasting Room
If you’re more of a wine drinker, The Tasting Room offers a polished atmosphere to indulge your thirst. Enjoy a bite of some lighter fare like a charcuterie board or delicious truffle fries with one of their exceptional wines, hand-picked wine by their in-house sommelier.
Probably one of the most beautiful bars in New Orleans, Cavan is nestled in the quiet Touro neighborhood. This two-story Victorian converted home provides guests with a beautiful, elegant atmosphere and outdoor seating where you can lazily watch Magazine shoppers.
About the author:
Arianna Thayer is a Louisiana native, passionate about travel and cheeky storytelling. When liberated from adult responsibilities, she enjoys climbing, cooking, dodgeball, and testing local craft beer for quality assurance. Take a look at her website and Instagram.