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A Guide to New Orleans Bars by Way of Tales of the Cocktail

It takes a special kind of fortitude (yeah, let’s call it fortitude) to head to New Orleans in the peak heat of July. But every summer for more than 20 years now (with the exception of 2020 and 2021, for obvious reasons), thousands of bartenders, liquor reps, journalists, hospitality professionals, and cocktail enthusiasts have done exactly that, for Tales of the Cocktail. 

This year marks my 16th trip to NOLA for the big event. And like every repeat Tales attendee, over the years I’ve found more than a few places around town that keep me coming back, year after year. Here are a large handful of New Orleans bars where you’re likely to find me during the week of July 23-28.


Yeah, yeah, I know—it’s Tales of the Cocktail. But New Orleans is also a world-class wine-drinking city, and no place embraces the grape quite like Bacchanal. At first glance, it’s just a really, really cool wine shop, with a great number of bottles pre-chilled and ready to go. But grab one of those bottles (note: stop at the cash register, first) and head outside for a backyard party that’ll add just the right vinuous touch to a week of cocktail exuberance. Depending on the time of day and your mood, there’ll be music, and food, and maybe another bottle of wine as the evening stretches ahead of you. Don’t forget your sunglasses.

Latitude 29 New Orleans bars for Tales of the Cocktail
Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29. | Photo by Randy Schmidt

Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29

True story: When I attended my first Tales of the Cocktail in 2006, I sat down at the Carousel Bar that first day, not knowing a single soul in the cocktail world but being a longtime fan of many of them. I struck up a conversation with the guy on the next barstool, and that was my personal introduction to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, whose books I’d long admired. Today, the Bum is a global bar star, and his French Quarter bar is where you’ll find me at least a few times during the week. Find a seat at the bar and grab a classic Mai Tai, Navy Grog, or (my personal favorite among the house originals) an Outcast of the Islands (with gin, lime, cinnamon, ginger, orgeat, and anise).


While it’s true that New Orleans had a vibrant cocktail culture long before the 21st century rolled around, that culture got a shot of adrenaline (and modernity) upon Cure’s debut in 2009. Cure has lost none of its power over the years, and it’s matured from a neighborhood craft cocktail bar into a global phenomenon. Go for a house original like the Cloud 1 4 9 (tequila, grappa, vermouth), or go all-out with an upscale classic like a Single Barrel Old Pal.

cure bar new orleans
The bar at Cure. | Photo by Kevin O’Mara

Dovetail Bar

This Rampart Street café and bar became a new favorite last summer, when I made it in for my first couple of visits. Carpentry and fine woodworking define the design elements of the bar. And the theme carries over in house cocktails like the Tongue & Groove (cachaça, rye, banana, Herbsaint, Angostura, espresso beans) and the Mortise & Tenon (tequila, mezcal, Cocchi Americano, chamomile grappa, bitter bianco, orange bitters). 

Jewel of the South

Chris Hannah was already one of New Orleans’ most-beloved bartenders long before he and his partners opened Jewel of the South. Today, the restaurant is a NOLA culinary mainstay, and the bar turns out some of the most beautifully rendered classic (and classically rooted) cocktails anywhere. A Brandy Crusta is never a bad idea here, or venture someplace new with an Absinthe Colada or a Sour Cherry Negroni.  


Located in the International House Hotel, loa is a longstanding hotel bar that, in 2022, took on a new bartender at the helm: Abigail Gullo. With establishments ranging from Brooklyn’s Fort Defiance to New Orleans’ Compère Lapin to Seattle’s Ben Paris on her résumé, Abigail is a drink-slinging force of nature. And now that she’s back home in New Orleans, she’s turning Loa into a must-visit spot, and the bar is bound to be bustling throughout Tales of the Cocktail. 

loa new orleans bars tales of the cocktail
Loa in the International House Hotel. | Photo courtesy of Loa


New Orleans may not be the birthplace of the Frozen Daiquiri, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at the number of cups in hands you can see as you stroll through the French Quarter. Skip past the raucous spots on Bourbon Street and instead head for this tiny sliver of civilized drinking on Dumaine Street. Inspired by the techniques honed at El Floridita in Havana, the blender-revving bartenders at Manolito serve a spectacular array of slushies, from a classic Floridita Daiquiri (with rum, maraschino liqueur, and lime) to a double-blended Banana Daiquiri with two types of Jamaican rum, banana, banana liqueur, and lime. 

Molly’s at the Market

I’ll drink one and only one Frozen Irish Coffee each year, and this experience always happens in New Orleans. I have nothing against the version served at Erin Rose—it’s cold, boozy, and ridiculously delicious. But the crowd crush is usually much smaller (and the Frozen Irish Coffees just as tasty) at another French Quarter favorite, Molly’s at the Market. The bar is a day-drinking classic that’s along the tourist crush of Decatur Street, but somehow doesn’t feel swamped by the beignet-munching hordes wandering down from Café du Monde just up the street. It’s a great place to grab a beer or a FIC, and sit down and soak up some AC before plunging back into the party outside. 

Napoleon House
The bar at Napoleon House. | Photo by Chris Granger

Napoleon House

I’m sure there are plenty of people who visit New Orleans and decide to skip the Napoleon House, but I really question their sense of priorities. Drinkers have gravitated to this Chartres Street spot for the better part of two centuries. And the downstairs dining rooms bear a certain degree of weathered charm as a result of those generations of love. Don’t get fancy here—grab a table and a muffuletta and a Pimm’s Cup to chase away the heat, or park at the bar with a Sazerac and get ready to make friends with whoever sits down next to you.


New Orleans has a cocktail history that rivals or surpasses that of, well, pretty much everywhere else. Peychaud’s only opened in the past several years, but its heritage goes back centuries. The building (now housing the Hotel Maison de Ville) was once the residence of Antoine Amédée Peychaud, creator of the eponymous bitters now essential to another New Orleans essential, the Sazerac. Classic cocktails are the way to go here—maybe a Cocktail a la Louisiane or an Ojen Frappe, sipped near the gurgling fountain in the quiet courtyard.

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