The best places to grab a drink in New Orleans

Brewery Saint X is known for its 15 house-brewed German and British drafts and wine list, which highlights smaller producers. | Credit: Randy Schmidt
A series of wooden countertop seats at Brewery Saint X in New Orleans

A cold dark bar is practically a birthright for New Orleanians. A stellar watering hole is a soothing cave of possibility—and a welcome respite from the city’s swampy heat. 

A newly opened brewery in the CBD is turning heads for its top-notch English and German-style beers. Nearby, a lively space with a bustling horseshoe-shaped bar draws crowds for global snacks, creative craft cocktails, and Girod Street views. A Mid-City church scored a second life as a restaurant and bar loved for its Mediterranean-accented menu and covered patio. 

Whether it features fancy cocktails, whiskey neat, or a frosty glass of beer, the experience at each of these Crescent City bars is superb. Read on for a guide to 12 New Orleans bars to book now.

Peacock Room at The Hotel Fontenot (Warehouse District)

Rolled leather banquettes and rich velvets make up the interiors at Peacock Room at the Hotel Fontenot.
The vibe at Peacock Room is Vegas meets boudoir, all gilded cages and vintage wallpaper. | Credit: Cris Molina for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Whether you’re planning on popping the question or looking to impress visitors, The Peacock Room at the Kimpton Hotel Fontenot ticks those boxes—and more. The vibe at this sultry spot—which also includes live music—is Vegas meets boudoir, all gilded cages and vintage wallpaper. The smart cocktail menu features classics such as negronis and sazeracs, plus newer, more playful libations such as the Hell-Cat Maggie, a mix of rum, elderflower liqueur, IPA, and fresh fruit juices. If you’re not imbibing, opt for a zero-proof drink including the peachy and citrusy Fuzzy Drama. Inventive American bites from chef Samuel Peery include a signature smash burger and roasted Louisiana oysters with Calabrian chile butter and aged manchego.

Book now

Cure (Uptown)

The aptly named Cure is just about perfect in every way: It pioneered New Orleans’s craft cocktail scene, along with the development that has transformed Freret Street into a hospitality beehive. Opened by Neal Bodenheimer and the CureCo. bar and restaurant group in 2009, this fetching tavern earned the coveted James Beard Award for its bar program in 2018. Take a seat at the intimate bar, adorned with a wall of bottles, or venture onto the leafy patio to enjoy the likes of Cloud 149, a mix of vermouth, grappa, and tequila (the cocktail takes flavor cues from Cure’s house-marinated olives). The drinks menu changes with the season, and always credits the bartender who dreamed up the alluring concoction. Cheese and meat plates, caviar service, and escargot round out the snacks.

Breakaway’s R&B (Marigny)

Breakaway’s R&B is named for local soul queen Irma Thomas’s 1964 hit—a song that the bar’s chef and drummer Paul Artigues has covered with his longtime friend, Guitar Lightnin’ Lee. It’s no wonder this cavernous bar has such a great jukebox and a robust live music lineup. Then there are the Creole specialties from Artigues, who opened this neighborhood-style kitchen tavern in the former Lost Love Lounge space with his wife and partner Olivia Rochon Artigues in January 2022. Try the braised beef daube (a Provençale-style stew) and red beans and rice with Creole country chaurice sausage, recipes from the chef’s family vault. There are fabulous frozen cocktails—consider the Cafe Brulot, an icy blend of whiskey, chicory liqueur, and cold brew—great wines by the glass, and friendly bartenders to pour. And, of course, plenty of room for dancing.

Copper Vine (Central Business District)

The lush plant-filled patio at Copper Vine in New Orleans
Copper Vine is home to one of New Orleans’s prettiest patios. | Credit: Randy Schmidt

This lush Poydras Street oasis features one of New Orleans’s prettiest patios. But at its core, the spot is a charming wine tavern, helmed by executive chef Amy Mehrtens, whose previous experience includes a stint at NOLA stalwart, Commander’s Palace. Occupying the former home of Creole stalwart Maylie’s, the 6,000-square-foot expanse boasts 30 wines on tap and a lively list curated by sommelier Emily Walker. Decadent plates, such as pappardelle pasta with short rib ragu and gulf fish amandine—arguably the city’s best spin on the Creole classic—pair superbly with whatever you’re drinking.

Book now

Effervescence (French Quarter)

A drink more festive than Champagne is yet to be invented, and bubbles are what make Effervescence such a good time. Founded by Crystal Hinds in 2017, this lovable lounge offers sparklers by the half or full glass, in flights, and in classic cocktails such as the kir royale and French 75. Chefs Evan Ingram and Brenna Sanders bring a refined global sensibility to their menu, honed in MICHELIN-rated restaurants. From raw gulf oysters to truffle pomme frites and Cajun caviar with all the fixin’s, Effervescence serves up anything but the ordinary.

Vessel NOLA (Mid-City)

The church exterior at Vessel NOLA in New Orleans
Vessel NOLA is an American restaurant that occupies a restored Canal Street church. | Credit: Vessel NOLA

Welcome to church. Soft light pours through stained-glass windows at this gorgeous repurposed house of worship, just off Canal Street. A lineup of 12 different glasses for drinks service exemplifies just how serious this place is about its cocktails. Chef de cuisine Willie Cooper creates winsome coastal Mediterranean dishes, such as seared scallop risotto and crab boiled shrimp salad. Sip drinks on the lovely covered patio, equipped with misters to take the edge off the heat.

Book now

Hermes Bar at Antoine’s (French Quarter)

Antoine’s is the country’s oldest family-run restaurant, dating back to 1840. That pedigree extends to its Hermes Bar, where classic cocktails aren’t just served, but where they debuted. The bar menu is composed of faithfuls such as sidebars and sazeracs, along with zero-proof drinks such as the pomegranate-forward Mardi Mocktail that still feel fancy. Order oysters Rockefeller at the bar—they were invented here, after all—or graze from a selection of salads and sandwiches, including a stellar wagyu burger. Bonus points for the live music on weekends.

Book now

Bobby Hebert’s Cajun Cannon Restaurant and Grill (Metairie)

Rest assured, when the Saints play, every TV at Bobby Hebert’s Cajun Cannon is locked on the game. Opened by the legendary Saints quarterback in 2014, this sports-themed restaurant and bar is chock full of team memorabilia. The kitchen dishes local faves such as seafood gumbo, fried seafood, a blackened catfish po-boy, and red beans and rice, plus oversized burgers and steak. Tropical drinks and margaritas include the formidable 60-ounce Cajun Cannonball, a punchy mix of tequila and fruit juices with a rum topper—built for two.

Book now

Meril (Warehouse District)

People dine and drink at the horseshoe-shaped bar at Meril in New Orleans.
The horseshoe-shaped bar at Meril draws crowds for a top-notch beer selection and playful global dishes. | Credit: Meril

Named for chef Emeril Lagasse’s daughter, Meril is a lively Warehouse District space. Its many draws include a horseshoe-shaped bar leading to an expansive dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Girod Street. Chef de cuisine Bergen Carman oversees a menu that’s playful and global: there are Italian-accented flatbreads topped with mortadella and burrata, and bar snacks that beg for a craft beer, such as fried turkey necks with mojo sauce. Housemade pastas, hearty entree salads, and an impressive batch of vegetable sides round out the spirited American menu. To drink, there are craft cocktails, local beer, and an impressive cordial collection.

Book now

Desi Vega’s Steakhouse (Warehouse District)

This stylish restaurant on the corner of St. Charles and Girod is best known for its impeccably seared prime steaks topped with butter, but the bar scene is something special, made for dress-up occasions, business dinners, and sophisticated mingling. There is a deep well of single malts, along with fun cocktails and an international wine list. Stop by between 4 pm and 6 pm on Tuesday through Friday for some of the city’s top app and drink specials.

Book now

Brewery Saint X (Central Business District)

This newly opened light-filled brewery is a breath of fresh air in the CBD. Chef Shannon Bingham offers the likes of roasted gulf fish, confit beef cheeks with salsa verde, sandwiches, salads, and snacks such as spicy fried green tomatoes. All make ideal companions to the 15 house-brewed German and British drafts or wine list, which highlights smaller producers. It all adds up to a laid-back drinking experience, well-suited for easygoing dates and leisurely catch-ups with friends.

Book now

Three Muses (Marigny)

Three Muses is proof that there is good food on Frenchmen Street. The jewel box-sized spot is known for live local music, (with a $3 charge added to every check for the performers). Expect a menu of Asian-accented salads, small bites, and sandwiches. Must-tries include the bulgogi rice bowl and Korean fried chicken, slathered with gochujang honey sauce on a brioche bun from James Beard Award-winning Vietnamese bakery Dong Phuong. There’s a standout bourbon program, whiskey flights, and damn good martinis, shaken or stirred.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Beth D’Addono is a food and travel writer based in New Orleans. Her latest book is 100 Things to Do in New Orleans Before You Die.

Find your table for any occasion