Drinking in New Orleans: Do You Need a Guide?

OK, this could end up being the longest post I’ve ever written. New Orleans has more establishments dedicated to drinking than it has… I don’t know… people urinating on Bourbon Street? I will not go through every single bar, tavern, night club, hotel, liquor store, or other club where we had a drink. But, I will go through a few highlights. Broken down by type:

Drinking a Bit of History

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar: The building was built in the early 1700s. OK, this bar has a great gimmick. They don’t have any electric lights on the inside (except that they have a flat screen TV so that kind of ruins it). It is also purported to be haunted by a number of ghosts. Get a Hurricane here because they make it from real fruit juice instead of the overly sugared mixes you will find elsewhere.

Napoleon House: Offered to Napoleon during his exile (but never used), this bar is pretty amazing. It does have electricity, but I don’t think the outlets have been updated since the 1920s. It has a great bar and also serves a pretty good muffuletta.

Drinking in Some Sophistication

Arnaud’s French 75: Esquire Magazine rated it one of the top five bars in the country. And, their mixologist has been featured in several magazines as well. They specialize in old timey French cocktails. And, they finish off the pre-World War II French theme with some wonderful cabaret music.

Drinking While Watching Mostly Naked Women

Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta Hotel: Every Friday night from midnight to 2 a.m., they have a burlesque show. The singer and band are really amazing. The dancers were sweet to our group, including demonstrating a few moves with giant feather fans for the bachelorette. There’s no cover, just a one drink minimum. For those used to city living prices, it’s pretty reasonable (drinks start at $9). And, the pear-based drinks are fabulous.

Drinking and Singing Very Badly

Cat’s Meow: Karaoke while drunk is the only way to karaoke. (And, even then I don’t karaoke). But, if you’re up for some sing-a-long fun, this place is big, crowded, and on Bourbon Street.

Drinking Whilst Riding a Fake Bull

Bourbon Cowboy: Obviously, on Bourbon Street, you can listen to some country music and then get on a mechanical bull. If you are of the female persuasion, the bull operator will then attempt to shake you off. If you are of the male persuasion, you will get to ride the bull like a normal person.

Drinking and Listening to Two Pianos

Pat O’Brien’s: They have a dueling piano bar off of the courtyard. Even though we only stayed for a while, this was the classier of the piano bars. (And, as such, has a much older person vibe.)

Howl at the Moon: This is a chain with slightly creepy piano players that may or may not be any good (it kind of varies by shift). They do a decent job of getting the crowd involved, and have an OK happy hour special.

Drinking in a Happy Hour Environment

Lüke: Half-off drink specials from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (all of their cocktails, well drinks, and wine by the glass) are a pretty good reason to drop in. But, the best reason? Fifty cent oysters during happy hour. And, these are not scrawny little oysters. They are big, happy, and ready to be eaten with a bit of Tabasco and horseradish. Yup, do the math: A platter of 12 will cost you $6.

If you’ve never been to New Orleans, please note that you can get to-go cups at bars. Correct, you can drink from open alcohol containers in the street. So, if you don’t like the ambiance of a bar, instead of chugging that drink down, you can just get a plastic cup and walk down to the next place on your list. Of course, most bars don’t want you wandering in with their competitors’ cups. Most will have you transfer your drink to their own cup (I know, what a waste.) Or, if it’s nicer bar or restaurant, don’t bring in your to-go cup.


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