Every thirsty soul about to descend on New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail (July 18 through 23) has one lingering question in common: Where should I drink? To help put together a cheat sheet, we consulted Adrienne Stillman’s new book, Where Bartenders Drink (Phaidon Press, $29.95). Out of the 700-plus bartender-recommended bars featured in the book, only 14 NOLA spots made the cut. But what spots they are!
“The birthplace of the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz, [NOLA] is also home to some of the country’s most iconic bars, where you truly feel as though you are drinking history,” writes Stillman.
But enough bookworming. Just in time for Tales, these are the 14 Big Easy bars to hit, with tips and commentary from the mouths of our favorite drink makers.
“This indie wine shop evolved over the years to a piece of New Orleans heaven on earth—fairy lights, great food, live music, interesting people and a killer cocktail program with unusual spirits. It is New Orleans to me.”—Abigail Gullo, Compère Lapin, New Orleans
It’s her pick for local must-visit spot.
“When I’m showing New Orleans to visitors from the cocktail capitals … this is always my first stop. Cure is indisputably world-class.”—Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, Latitude 29, New Orleans
“Top to bottom, from the owners to the bartenders and their love of the neighborhood they chose to open their bar in. They even came back in force after it was flooded by Hurricane Katrina.”—Chris Hannah, Arnaud’s French 75, New Orleans
It’s his pick for best neighborhood bar.
“Very cool … dive bar on the first floor, and a chic tapas bar on the top.”—Hannah
It’s his pick for “bar I wish I’d opened.”
“Always someone there that you know. Social atmosphere and sense of community.”—Kirk Estopinal, Cure / Cane & Table, New Orleans
It’s his pick for best late-night bar.
“Pal’s is cocktails in plastic cups with air hockey, naked pictures in the toilets, and dogs roaming the bar.”—Gullo
“Upbeat. … The best dive bar in the city.”—Hannah
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.