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Everything You Need to Know Before Drinking in New Orleans

From a freshly updated city guide to the best places to drink in NOLA to an ode to the frozen daiquiri to an account of what it's like to sit at one of the city's dive bars for a full 24 hours, this is everything you need to know before hitting the Big Easy.

Daiquiris New Orleans sign

If you’re heading to New Orleans, we’ve got you covered with a guide to just about everything you need to know before you head to the Big Easy, from a freshly updated city guide to the best places to drink in NOLA to an ode to the frozen daiquiri to an account of what it’s like to sit at one of the city’s dive bars for a full 24 hours. Without further ado: 

  • 1

    Inside One of NOLA's Greatest Hidden Jazz Bars

    First things first: Bullet is a person. When he was 18 years old, Rollin “Bullet” Garcia walked into a neighborhood grocery store and was shot after accidentally stumbling upon a robbery-in-progress. Garcia survived, thankfully, and so did his new nickname. Cut to years later, and it’s now practically impossible to separate out the man, the nickname and his namesake watering hole, Bullet’s Sports Bar. All three have become synonymous with a particular kind of genuine bear-hugging warmth that’s unique to New Orleans and, more specifically, the bar’s tight-knit 7th Ward neighborhood. Nestled inside the bottom ...

  • 2

    Building a Better Ramos Gin Fizz

    The Ramos Gin Fizz is a drink that bartenders love, and love to hate, in equal measure. The New Orleans-born classic is beloved because its simple mix of gin, citrus, orange blossom water and cream yields a tall, cool dream of a drink: sweet-tart and refreshing, topped with an exquisitely frothy egg-white cap that often towers over the drink like a booze-soaked puff of meringue. [related recipe="Ramos Gin Fizz"] But it takes time and muscle to make one—let alone 50 of them. The instructions as set forth by Henry C. Ramos, who served the drink at his Imperial Cabinet Saloon in the 1880s, dictate that the drink be ...

  • 3

    Inside NOLA's Secret Garden of Wine

    The word “oasis” gets tossed around quite a bit when talking about bars and restaurants, with most of the spots necklaced with the label failing to live up to such a magical, conjuring term. In New Orleans, though, Bacchanal—a decidedly dreamlike wine bar—wears it well. Located in the crook of a road a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi River, Bacchanal is the kind of place that will make a person rub their eyes in disbelief upon entering. Frothy crepe myrtles sway, shaking their petals to the ground like out of a swirling fever dream, while the sounds of that night’s jazz band drift through the lush ...

  • 4

    Diary of a 24-Hour Dive Bar

  • 5

    Rap, Immortality & the Frozen Daiquiri

    The bright pink building that is Gene’s Curbside Daiquiris appears almost otherworldly situated on Elysian Fields, a street named after the ancient Greek concept of the paradise heroes venture to in the afterlife. Squinting and hazy, I swing open the door to a blow of ear-piercing squeals from stainless-steel daiquiri machines that foreshadow the ringing, premeditated hangover I know is coming. It’s a little after 10 a.m. on a Saturday and I’m still gaining my composure after last night’s adventures. Overwhelmed by where to start, Gene’s employee Kelly Gaus guides me through the frozen offerings: “You can taste as ...

  • 6

    Bali H'ai to Bourbon Street and Back: NOLA's Tiki Love Affair

    My favorite toy as a child was a tiki god sculpture made out of coal. My grandfather, a coalminer in Eastern Kentucky, had received the statuette as a gift while working for a company that named all their mines after tiki gods—Martiki, Pontiki, Toptiki. “They named them that for good luck, so nothing bad would happen,” he surmised. Why else would tiki culture show up in the middle of Appalachia? The tiki god was a catalyst for delving further into a wormhole of splashy, campy tiki treasures. I swooned over Elvis’s gyrating hips in Blue Hawaii, plucked on my grandfather’s ukulele and hornswoggled neighborhood ...

  • 7

    Rolling with the Wine Krewe at Mardi Gras

    “406, my girl, 406!”  Patrick van Hoorebeek, King for Life of the Krewe of Cork—one of the many walking krewes during New Orleans's Carnival season—is gesturing wildly, wielding his three-gallon, mirrored goblet like a weapon. “In the year 406 B.C., Euripides said, 'Without wine, there is no joy!' That’s why our Krewe of Cork will never have any more than 406 members!” His voice lifts at the end in a sort of “heave-ho!” rallying cry, as if calling his small army of wine worshippers to the front lines of battle. It's a gloriously sunny Friday morning two weeks out from Mardi Gras and the krewe is gathering in the ...

  • 8

    Long Live the New Orleans Set-Up

    Chances are your primary memory from 2013 probably has nothing to do booze. It was the year that scientists successfully cloned human stem cells for the first time. Bitcoin was a popular topic of conversation. Kayne West had still not gone entirely off the rails. However, in New Orleans, 2013 will always be remembered as the year of The Great To-Go Cup Battle. A mainstay of drinking in the city, the to-go cup is a cultural touchstone. Far more than just a way to legally drink in public, it effectively serves as a rallying cry for life to be lived out in the open and enjoyed to the fullest. It is liquor-soaked ...

  • 9

    The Only Bar In New Orleans

    In New Orleans’ ever-changing Marigny-Bywater neighborhood, Kajun’s Pub doesn’t immediately stand out. It lacks the newness of the shiny oyster bar down the street within historic (and just restored) St. Roch Market. Its drinks aren’t objects of lust and lore like Bachannal’s wines or Oxalis’ whiskey offerings. But there was a time when Kajun’s—this seemingly nondescript, painted brick dive on the west end of St. Claude Avenue—felt like the only bar in the entire city. Ten years ago on August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit. Soon the federal levees failed, and chaos ensued throughout New Orleans. At the time, ...

  • 10

    The Grand Dames of New Orleans Drinking

    Three untouched cocktails rest on the custom chef’s bar at SoBou in New Orleans as Ti Martin and Lally Brennan are telling stories that rapidly pinball between seemingly disparate topics. Ti is reminiscing about closing down The Dead Rabbit in New York City on a recent trip. It somehow ends in detailed directions for finding a local NOLA store selling vintage cocktail glassware. “This is called ‘taking detours,’" says Lally of their whirlwind storytelling style. "We start one story and it leads into another...” She’s barely finished before Ti bursts in with a welcome, “Somebody try a drink, dammit!” Ti, dressed ...

  • 11

    Mix Tapes: Behind the Soundtrack at New Orleans’ Cure

    There’s no shortage of places to hear Southern rap, vintage jazz and all strains of soul and R&B throughout New Orleans. But depending on who’s slinging drinks at Cure, one of the city’s most innovative cocktail bars, you may find yourself nodding to a variety of very different sounds—like hip-hop bangers played shortly after German krautrock. As general manager Turk Dietrich explains, Cure is the kind of place where the music fits the moment, and that can mean many different things in a city so racially and culturally diverse. Here, Dietrich deconstructs the art of walking that fine line, and offers up a sample, ...

  • 12

    A Modern Proto-Tiki Mecca in New Orleans

    Cane & Table might be the new kid on the block in New Orleans’ French Quarter, but unlike other shiny new cocktail alcoves, the bar feels as if it’s been woven into the fabric of the city for centuries. And while it's dressed with a disheveled-chic ambiance with a menu that nods to history, the latest bar from the team behind Cure and Bellocq also brings a fresh perspective to the city’s rich and eclectic drinking narrative. New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, ethnicities and music, and the era that Cane & Table digs into—the 18th and 19th centuries, specifically—is the root of this reputation in ...

  • 13

    Blues, Booze and Red Beans: Monday Night in New Orleans

    My commitment to the sanctity of free bar food runs deep. I've downed my fair share of traditional snacks—popcorn, Chex Mix and the occasional wasabi pea—at bars across the country, thoroughly enjoying their bite-sized, poppable nature (even when they are a little bit stale). I've patronized the enterprising food trucks that swarm in front of bars lacking culinary options, and once even briefly operated an "after school special" themed pop-up of my own called Snack Time off of a pool table in the back room of a dive bar. 

    My two-night-only effort as a renegade barroom chef allowed me to sit briefly in the thick of ...

  • 14

    Meet Louisiana's Most Polarizing Bar Snack

    Every city has its own special flavor of homegrown hip-hop, whether it’s tag teams of teens hocking tapes in a Walgreens parking lot or local legends blanketing the town with freshly inked flyers for an upcoming house party.

    More than most cities, New Orleans has a storied history of these neighborhood rap heroes cresting into the national spotlight. Culinary and drinking references abound in the lyrics of New Orleans-bred rappers—even Lil’ Wayne returns to his edible roots from time to time, growling in a recent guest spot, “Damn where you stumble at? From where they make gumbo at?”

    Pound for pound, my favorite ...

  • 15

    The Ritual of the Shift Drink: NOLA's Cure

    If family meal is the nourishing, bread-breaking prelude to a dinner service for chefs and servers at a restaurant, the shift drink is its tie-loosening cousin, the time when bartenders de-frock and unwind with a drink in hand. How a bar treats its shift drink is often a fine litmus test for the values of the space itself. At Cure in New Orleans—a place where no detail is left unattended—their reverence for the process of building cocktails and wink-and-a-grin approach to top-flight service ensures that the end-of-night ritual is a time where business and pleasure find a way to easily fit together, like a hand ...