Like it or not, here comes round two! In Pt. 1, we played restaurant critic. Now we’re giving you the lowdown on the downtown NOLA bar scene (not including strip bars). Something to keep in mind… this list only includes bars in the downtown/CBD; many of the city’s best bars are scattered throughout the city, particularly in uptown New Orleans. Also keep in mind this list is intended for tourists. Those of you who live here or visit often already know about these places.
Don’t worry – we’ll get back to writing about strip clubs soon enough…
Q: Okay, what if I want to go to bars that aren’t strip bars?
Drink enough and you’ll think this carousel is actually moving!
No matter how fancy the bar, anywhere is cheaper to get drunk than a strip club. (Pro tip: get your buzz from those cheap “Huge Ass Beers” down the street (40oz for $12), not $8 Miller Lite at Penthouse.)
The most popular bar on Bourbon has got to be Pat O’Brien’s, without a doubt. Well, it’s actually on St. Peter – but very close to Bourbon. Nice piano bar & patio bar – and their Hurricane is legendary in New Orleans. It’s definitely worth a visit. (UPDATE: Perhaps I should retract my “most popular … without a doubt” statement. There are tons of popular bars on Bourbon, obviously, and I usually prefer to avoid sweeping generalizations like “this is EVERYONE’S favorite” anyway.)
If you’re feeling fancy, hit up the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. It’s historic (and cool looking). And expensive. I said fancy, asshole. Also, if you’re a self-proclaimed cocktail snob, you’ll love Bar Toniqe and Bellocq (at The Hotel Modern). They’ve got the best fancy (eh, “hand-crafted”) cocktails in town, and they’re both close to NOLA downtown. Sazerac (Roosevelt Hotel) is also nice, as are most of the downtown hotel bars. I’ve been to the Swizzle Stick (Loews Hotel) and the bar at the Pere Marquette (Renaissance Hotel) and both were enjoyable.
Maybe you’re like me and you prefer the cheap stuff. Good call! Look no further than Tropical Isle (any of the four locations). They invented the Hand Grenade, a “syrup-y sweet drink made with rum, gin, vodka, grain alcohol and melon liquor.” Don’t even get their other shit, just get the Hand Grenade.