The Essential Guide to Drinking in NOLA

The PUNCH Guide to NOLA

new orleans city guide illustration jen kruch

New Orleans is a city built on a boozy foundation.

When Antoine Peychaud opened his apothecary shop in the French Quarter in the 1830s and began selling bitters, it was a slippery slope from celebrating the tincture’s medicinal value to discovering that they mixed quite well with liquor and a dash of sugar. Voila! The world’s first cocktail was born (or second, depending on who you ask). A cacophony of mixed-up drinks soon followed, with Sazeracs and Ramos Gin Fizzes as firmly woven into the city’s culture and history as jazz.

Today, Peychaud wouldn’t recognize the cocktail town he masterfully (or accidentally) inspired. People come to New Orleans to eat jambalaya, see second line parades and wander through cemeteries, sure, but what they really come to do is drink. And drink they do. Around every corner, wedged into nooks and crannies, hidden up rickety staircases—and with names that sound more like whimsical spells than bars—there are bars for bachelorette party revelers, serious cocktail history nerds and everyone in between. New Orleans doesn’t discriminate; instead it yells out to the world like a circus barker, “Come one, come all, to see the greatest drinking city on earth!”

Whether downing Hand Grenades on Bourbon Street or sipping Mint Juleps Uptown, New Orleans isn’t a town that readily embraces moderation. Instead, it maintains and prides itself on a long history of scampering between grief and delight with equal pep. While in the throes of the highest highs or the rock bottom doldrums, the liquor keeps flowing.

This acceptance of extremes also means there’s a high tolerance for tomfoolery, and the kinds of oddballs that wouldn’t feel quite as comfortable to let their freak flag fly anywhere else. New Orleans is an intoxicating place to discover and nourish—drink in hand—the loveable, exciting weirdo inside everyone. —Sarah Baird

Map Thumbnail for A Drinking Tour of NOLA's Most Bizarre Bars

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