Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. Oldest bar in the country and it used to belong to the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte. Make sure to order a “voodoo” frozen drink, bring it to the back room and set it right on top of the grand piano as the performer plays Mardi Gras music. The Old Absinthe House was the first place to sell absinthe in the country. A great tradition in Nola is to have dinner at Galatoire’s and then walk two blocks down here for drinks. DBA has the best beer selection in town. It has good live music and is in a more artsy/less touristy part of town adjacent to the quarter called the Marigny. Pat O’Briens: go here for hurricanes. It’s probably the most famous bar in the city, and while it’s touristy, you’ll still have fun. Must do: sit in the piano bar and check out the fire fountain in the courtyard, especially if it’s nighttime. The Rusty Nail has the opposite vibe of Pat O’Briens. This is a great spot in the Warehouse District if you’re in the mood for a neighborhood atmosphere. — Blake K. Williamson, MD, Tulane University resident
Cure, Oak, Bar Tonique and Bellocq are all upscale, big-city, ultra modern lounges in the French Quarter. Come here for great drinks made by trained mixologists. Cure and Oak are uptown so they are ideal for drinks before/after Jacque-Imo’s. The Bombay Club is another good lounge if you’re in the French Quarter. It’s more of a leather-and-wood type of place. Although it might be a little less hip, it’s a good place to go if you want to “get out of the quarter without leaving the quarter.” The Polo Lounge, located in the Windsor Court Hotel (which happens to be the nicest hotel in town), is another country club-type lounge. The Ritz Carlton lounge has Jeremy Davenport, a great trumpeter and local celebrity musician, playing during cocktail hour. — B.K.W.
Republic and Ampersand. Although “clubbing” like that which exists in Los Angeles and New York City doesn’t really exist in New Orleans, these hot spots are the closest thing to it! — B.K.W.
Vaughns in the Bywater. A must if you’re in town on a Thursday night. It’s quite possibly one of the most important cultural places to visit in the city. Nola’s best trumpeter Kermit Ruffins plays here that night and cooks red beans for everybody out of his pick-up truck. The festivities usually doesn’t get started till 10:30 p.m. Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge is great for when it’s getting pretty late and you want the quintessential dive that’s very local, very seedy and not in the French Quarter. — B.K.W.
A Couple More Hot Spots
Bacchanal Wine. Excellent outdoors wine bar in the Bywater area. Buy a bottle in the wine shop and make your way out back to the outdoor patio. They serve up superb food in a casual setting with live music several nights a week. — T.W.J.
Barcadia. Located in the Central Business District (walking distance from downtown and the French quarter), it’s a relaxed place to hang out and let loose. The trendy arcade-themed bar attracts the 20- to 35-year-old crowd and is definitely a beacon for men and women alike. Whether you want to play life-sized Jenga or try your hand at classics such as Spy Hunter, there are ample games for everyone to enjoy. On Friday and Saturday nights, it tends to get pretty crowded given its location around other well-frequented hangouts. — Haumith Khan-Farooqi, MD, Tulane University resident
“Jacques Imo’s restaurant is must, along with Tipitina’s for music and drinks. And don’t forget the NOLA brewery tour on Friday afternoons!” — Aravinda Rao, native New Orleanian and Retina Specialist, New Orleans, LA
Les Bon Temps Roule. Another spot to go to if you’re in town on Thursday. The Soul Rebels Brass Band has a standing show every Thursday night that is well worth the $10 admission. Music usually doesn’t start until 11 p.m. — T.W.J.
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