There’s no place quite like New Orleans, especially from a professional drinker’s perspective. And I mean that in the most literal sense — as a liquor writer by trade, I’ve had the great fortune of experiencing the Big Easy through this lens each July for a massive annual booze conference called Tales of the Cocktail. The weeklong gathering, made up of tastings, seminars, brand activations, and insane parties, is one hell of a crash course in NOLA’s dining and drinking scenes, so after some serious personal vetting, I am pleased to present the ultimate guide to the ultra-walkable cultural and culinary mecca that is New Orleans, Louisiana.
This little gem, once a Creole townhouse, is brand new to NOLA and is a little slice of Peruvian perfection on a quiet street about 10 minutes from the heart of the French Quarter. Book via Mr. and Mrs. Smith for special perks.
The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery
Formerly a warehouse that catered to boats coming in and out of the Port of New Orleans, The Old No. 77 dates back to 1854 and has so much soul and history. You can book this one through Mr. and Mrs. Smith for perks and best rates, too.
This sprawling hotel has four diamonds, gigantic rooms, and an old world Southern hospitality approach, making you feel right at home from the get-go. The restaurant can’t be beat — see below for Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar from the legendary NOLA restaurateurs behind the Commander’s Family of Restaurants.
I just…have no words. The Pontchartrain is fucking beautiful. A bit far from the action but the aesthetic makes it 100% worth it.
This young, upbeat hotel is super reasonable and approachable, and the rooms are spacious and lovely. It’s got a great after-dark bar scene and is located on a quiet street within walking distance of the French Quarter.
Café du Monde
This is ~standard~ and if you don’t stop here at least once for beignets and chicory coffee, then I seriously question your motives.
You’ll need an Uber to get out here, but Cure is a sick bar at the forefront of NOLA’s modern cocktail scene and is absolutely worth the trek out to Freret Street. There’s an extensive menu, great bar snacks, gorgeous scenery, and a bevy of badass women behind the stick at any given time — what more could you ask for?
Commander’s Palace is one of the finest restaurants in New Orleans, no contest. But to understand the complexities of what makes this place so damn great, you’d have to do a bit of a dive into its history…2016 Restaurateurs of the Year Ti Martin and Lally Brennan are the present day representatives of the empire that is the Commander’s Family of Restaurants and are truly the epitome of grace, class, and kindness; dining here or at any of their establishments is an actual honor. Check out the documentary on their iconic predecessor, Ella Brennan, right here.
Southeast Asian fare meets Southern charm at Chef Michael Gulotta’s Maypop. The cocktails are awesome and so is the food; it’s also insanely photogenic and the light-filled space certainly helps.
The Commander’s Family strikes again with this awesome French Quarter gem, where all you’re required to do is eat, drink, and have the time of your life. The Burlesque Brunch is not to be missed (and neither are kick-ass Bar Chef Laura Bellucci’s insane cocktails).
Epic doesn’t even begin to cover Brennan’s. They’re known for killer eggs, Brandy Milk Punch/Caribbean Milk Punch, and a fountain full of real live turtles, so you’re pretty much destined to have a good time.
Again, you’ll need to grab an Uber to get out to DTB (Down the Bayou), but this new hotspot is one thousand percent worth it. Get the crab boil potato hash and prepare to feel emotions.
Reserve in advance — tables at Shaya are not easy to come by, fam. Chef Alon Shaya is well on his way to making his mark on the NOLA dining scene with his epic Israeli food, so get in while you still can.
One of the greatest brunch experiences of my damn life took place right here at Arnaud’s. If you like being serenaded by sweet old men playing banjos and saxophones whilst you sip turtle soup and drink classic French 75s, then this is the place for you.
This was hands-down the best bar experience I had during my entire trip to New Orleans…it’s basically a tiki dream helmed by a legend in the industry (Beachbum Berry) and the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver is a sweet, buttery dream that will change your life.
The Sazerac Bar
Can’t argue with the classics. Tucked inside the historic Roosevelt Hotel, this stunning old-school bar is the place to get an OG Sazerac or Ramos Gin Fizz — two NOLA icons you absolutely must taste on any trip to the Big Easy.
Yet another perfect New Orleans classic…the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone is the birthplace of the Vieux Carré and is, of course, the best place to drink it. The rotating 22-seat carousel doesn’t hurt either.
I could talk about the history of this place for hours and hours — or you could just read about it here. Anyway, you ~need~ to come here for a Pimm’s Cup.
Erin Rose has the actual best frozen Irish coffee in town. It’s definitely more dive-y than anywhere else on this list (which is fine if you’re into that) but yeah, THAT IRISH COFFEE IS FREAKING MAGICAL.
Written by Celine Bossart
Feature image via