Craft cocktail bars in New Orleans
May 5, 2018 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Heading to New Orleans next week for the first time ever, and excited to check out the cocktail scene. The one place on my list to check out is Jeff Berry's Latitude 29, so very eager for other suggestions. Bars prefered, but suggestions for restaurants with great cocktail programs also appreciated. Thanks!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Latitude 29 is awesome. Several people in DC told us to go see Abigail at Compère Lapin; we were not disappointed (and she sent us an incredible list of places to go, who to see there, and what to drink). From the rest of our list the highlights were, in alphabetical order: Arnaud's French 75, Bacchanal, Bar Tonique, Cure, Revel, and Twelve Mile Limit (which is not near anything and which is in a neighborhood where people get mugged a lot, so if you go, be alert). We also really liked Cane & Table but since we were there the original bar manager left, so I have no idea if that's still on the recommended list. If you like cake, go to Bakery Bar (the drinks are good, but the cake is the reason to go). Carousel Bar is sort of a must but the drinks didn't quite live up to the standard when we went. Sazerac Bar was an actual disappointment.

And on the restaurant-with-a-good-bar front we can recommend Cochon Butcher.

posted by fedward at 12:13 PM on May 5, 2018

Bar Tonique. BAR TONIQUE.
posted by Kitteh at 12:14 PM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Tiki Tolteca is a nice follow up to Latitude 29. Delicious beverages.

2nd-ing the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. Fairly good beverages and fun people watching.

The Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel is really high on my list of favorite bars. It's quiet, air conditioned, and just a little bit removed from the franticness of the quarter. It can be excellent.
posted by countrymod at 2:20 PM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

We loved Cellar Door and hated Sazerac Bar.
posted by david1230 at 4:18 PM on May 5, 2018

posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:51 PM on May 5, 2018

It's quiet, air conditioned

Are places in New Orleans frequently not air-conditioned?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 5:25 PM on May 5, 2018

Tiki Tolteca, definitely. The Saint Lawrence looks like an ordinary not-quite-dive bar but it has a good cocktail program and the food's good. Saint Lawrence is 262 feet from Tiki Tolteca - when you leave Tiki Tolteca, take a left on Bienville and then a right on N. Peters.

If you are fish-eaters, I recommend Pêche (two 2014 James Beard awards: one for Best Chef: South, and one for Best New Restaurant ).

I also recommend Igor's Bar, Gameroom, and Laundromat on St. Charles - there's a streetcar stop right in front. Dive, dive, dive, but the friendliest dive I've ever been in. Plus, they're 24-hour and open on holidays - I've had an Igor's burger for Thanksgiving dinner at 11pm, and we weren't the only people there.
posted by catlet at 6:19 PM on May 5, 2018

Definitely hit up the Columns Hotel (we had the #MeFiTenNola party there). It's lovely to lounge in the uh, lounge, or sit on their big porch on St. Charles Ave. In the summer you can't go wrong with a Pimm's Cup. FYI it's very busy for their very cheap Friday happy hour (I spent many a Friday there in my day)--if you like that, go then, otherwise go at another time.

Also agree on Carousel Bar and Sazerac Bar. Last time I went to the Carousel there was a fabulous swingy band playing, and the frontwoman was the daughter of Louis Prima!

(Yes, everything in New Orleans is air conditioned)
posted by radioamy at 8:18 PM on May 5, 2018

Sort of off topic, but: long ago, years before Latitude 29, Jeff Berry’s amazing wife was the first person to tell me about Metafilter.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:38 PM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fedward's got it spot on.

Sazerac can be disappointing partly because the drinks are so expensive, but it's within The Roosevelt, which itself is beautiful. I wouldn't recommend buying drinks at Sazerac Bar, but I would recommend strolling from one end of the hotel to the other.

Also want to mention the rooftop bars. Skip the Ace Hotel's rooftop bar, Alto (there's often a $20 cover) and head to Hot Tin at the top of the Pontchartrain on St. Charles. Decent cocktails and a breathtaking view of the city, especially after sunset. Monkey Board is another good rooftop bar.

Lastly, Green Goddess' cocktails probably won't be winning any awards, but I like them, and the Exchange Place pedestrian walkway is a lovely place people watch during a leisurely patio lunch with a summery drink.
posted by aquamvidam at 11:02 PM on May 5, 2018

Get the cocktail in a giant copper bunny rabbit at Compere Lapin! (If you can - there are only 12 of them so if they are all out with other diners you won't be able to get it.) Also, the food there is amazing.

Nthing Bar Tonique - so great we went there twice during a 6-day trip. Sylvain was lovely, too. Our bartender at Sylvain when I was there last month gave us this list of places to go - the ones with an asterisk are good for cocktails, the others are more like dive bars.

Whenever you can, sit at the bar and make friends with the bartender. Everyone in New Orleans is super friendly and happy to give you recommendations.

(UGH now I want to go back, despite having been there twice in a 3-week span last month. I love that city so much.)
posted by misskaz at 9:42 AM on May 6, 2018

[content warning: I live here and Have Opinions]

> Twelve Mile Limit (which is not near anything and which is in a neighborhood where people get mugged a lot, so if you go, be alert)

Even when it opened I didn't feel that way about the neighborhood and I certainly don't now. I will absolutely second this recommendation especially if Cole Newton or Steve Yamada are behind the stick - but even if they're not it doesn't matter because Cole has set up the kind of bar where things get done right all the time. Or at least all the times I've been there, which is a lot of times.

> go see Abigail at Compère Lapin; we were not disappointed

I don't know if Abagail is still there but find her wherever she is. She does good work.

Same goes for Chris Hannah (Arnaud's French 75) and Nick Detrich (at the newly-opened Manolito) and Paul Gustings (Tujague's I believe) and Chris McMillian (Revel) and Kirk Estopinal (Cure, most likely) and Turk Dietrich (Cure as well) and Matt Ray (Cane & Table). If you sit in front of any of those people you're bound to get a fantastic cocktail wherever they are.

Even if you don't know who's in front of you you can't go wrong with Cure, Cane & Table, Twelve Mile Limit, Arnaud's French 75, and Latitude 29. I don't believe I've ever had a poorly-made drink at any of those places.

I am not, like, gonna call out names in this thread or whatever but I absolutely have had poorly-made drinks at Carousel Bar, Sazerac Bar, and the Columns Hotel. They may be interesting places to drink but if your criteria is that the drink itself be an interesting or perfectly-made cocktail then I can't guarantee they'll deliver.

(but if your criteria is having a fun time in New Orleans then just throw a rock and hit a bar and go there and the city will deliver, as long as you have enough drinks)
posted by komara at 5:54 PM on May 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Even when it opened I didn't feel that way about the neighborhood and I certainly don't now.

My wife and I didn't feel particularly unsafe, but I wasn't sure if we're necessarily reliable when it comes to "safe" or "dangerous" neighborhoods. We aren't really timid travelers, and we've both lived in DC for twenty years, which means we got here before gentrification really set in. The neighborhood around Twelve Mile Limit didn't feel any worse than the neighborhood we live in (and own a house) in DC. That said, we're friends with a lot of hospitality industry people in DC and they're the ones who warned us about the neighborhood, so we felt like it wasn't just the usual sort of undeserved Yelp reputation. The bar itself had apparently been hit by an armed robbery a few weeks before our visit (which was in early 2017). We had no issues, and the drinks and the vibe were great.

I am not, like, gonna call out names in this thread or whatever but I absolutely have had poorly-made drinks at Carousel Bar, Sazerac Bar, and the Columns Hotel.

We had a nice enough conversation with the bartender at Carousel Bar, and my wife's milk punch was spot on. My Vieux Carré, however, was Equal Parts Everything and thus far too much Bénédictine (he free poured two bottles at a time with speed pour spouts). We were glad we checked it off the list, but we didn't stay for a second round. At Sazerac Bar the Ramos Gin Fizz was undershaken and the French 75 was too dry, and the bartenders were super annoyed to have customers. It wasn't like they were slammed and we ordered a Ramos; we were literally the only people in the bar.

Odds and ends: We didn't get to Tujague's (and I think Gustings maybe wasn't back there yet), but I'd happily drink anything Paul Gustings made. I'm just not sure I'd drink there if he wasn't behind the stick. I'm glad to hear that Cane & Table is still great after Detrich stepped away from the bar. It's always hard to know what to expect when somebody like that leaves. And Chris McMillian's wife Laura (also at Revel) is a great bartender in her own right, and we enjoyed talking to both of them. When Chris gets started telling stories it gets obvious why they have a third bartender there for busy shifts; we didn't catch the third bartender's name (she was not there to talk, she was there to knock out the drinks while the McMillians played host) but her drinks were also good.
posted by fedward at 9:50 AM on May 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

> The bar itself had apparently been hit by an armed robbery a few weeks before our visit (which was in early 2017).

I get that, but I don't think it's indicative of a problem in the neighborhood itself, per se. We had a string of restaurant holdups in Uptown in 2015. Idiots with guns are going to go wherever they feel they can make some money.

To put it another way, there's no part of town where I wouldn't watch my surroundings at night so in that respect the neighborhood around 12ML doesn't feel any better or worse than the average.

Also hey good news! After three consecutive years as a finalist Cure has won a James Beard Award for outstanding bar program.
posted by komara at 8:24 PM on May 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

These are all great answers! I'd like to add Cavan and Boulingy Tavern, both on Magazine St. I had the best afternoon of drinking ever and I can't wait to go back.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 6:35 AM on May 9, 2018

I didn't wind up having a lot of time to check out cocktail bars, but here are a few of my notes:

Cure was absolutely, absolutely phenomenal. The best and most exciting cocktail experience I've had in quite some time. Absolutely cannot skip this place.

I had very high expectations for Latitude 29, but these were definitely not the best tiki drinks I've had. Good food, though, and a good place for a group.

Bar Tonique seemed like it could have been good (kind of an interesting vibe: craft cocktails in a divey locale), but the service was unpleasant. (The bartender spent his entire time chatting up a woman at the bar and barely could be bothered to give us menus or take our order.) Maybe better on a different day, with someone else behind the bar?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 5:20 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

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