It’s late in the Big Easy. The sun is going down... or is it coming up? You’re wandering around the French Quarter, and you haven’t slept for days — it's Mardi Gras, after all. Or is it? Wasn’t that two weeks ago? The hollering, shimmering French Quarter is starting up again, and you think that it might be best to make a beeline out of the explosion of beads that is the nightlife central in New Orleans. But, of course, you could always stop for a cocktail or two on the way…
For the Cocktail Connoisseur
Where: Bar UnCommon, 817 Common St., (504) 525-1111
Come in for some of the most exciting new cocktails in New Orleans, along with retooled and perfected classics. Stay for Chris McMillian, founder of The Museum of the American Cocktail, bartender extraordinaire, and New Orleans local celebrity.
For the Cocktail Purist's Second Round
Where: Sazerac Bar, 123 Baronne St., (504) 648-1200
It’s not hard to guess what one should get when walking into the New Orleans institution that is The Sazerac Bar. Take a sip of the perfectly crafted (and extravagantly priced) namesake cocktail and reflect on the history of the establishment. Who knows, after a few you might think you see Huey Long, New Orleans’ idolized governor, who was a frequent visitor. Of course, he died in 1935, so maybe it’s time to put the cocktail down.
For More Drinking in Hotels, and Some History
Where: Swizzle Stick Bar, 300 Poydras St., (504) 595-3305
Like the inner layer of a stacked Russian doll, this is a bar inside of a restaurant inside of a hotel. Not only that, but a good bar inside of a restaurant inside of a hotel. This bar inside a restaurant inside a hotel is owned by the Brennan family (generally considered to be New Orleans restaurateur royalty), and has one foot in the past and one in the future. Enjoy signature classics that are omnipresent in the Big Easy, or go with one of their new inventions from rising star Lu Brow. Of course, if you can’t decide, simply ask for a magical invention known as the Trouble Tree, a metal shot-holder decked out with anything you could ever wish for.
For People Who Believe Looking at Food While Drinking Counts as a Meal
Where: Herbsaint, 701 St. Charles Ave., (504) 524-4114
This critically lauded restaurant has been making a name for itself among food enthusiasts, and its bar has been making one among cocktail geeks as well. Herbsaint, which gets its name from a licorice-flavored liqueur produced in the area and traditionally used to flavor Sazeracs, is set up with all of the New Orleans classics including the Pimms Cup, the Dark and Stormy, and yes, even that one drink Cajuns hold so dear, the Sazerac.
For Beer. Oh, So Much Beer
Where: The Avenue Pub, 1732 St. Charles Ave., (504) 586-9243
There is a question that has been on every housewife and policeman’s mind for centuries: How much beer is too much beer? If you answered "No such thing," be prepared to put that to the test at The Avenue Pub, the predominant beer bar in New Orleans. Wander up to the bar, take a look at the 170-plus different types of brew (many of them brewed in New Orleans), and weep for joy.
For Cleaning Up the Stains on Your Shirt (and Psyche) the Next Day
Where: Igor's Lounge and Game Room, 2133 St. Charles Avenue, (504) 522-2145
Igor’s is a dive. Why? Well, it has a worn pool table, the drinks are stiff as they are cheap, and, oh yeah, and it’s a laundromat. Since we’ve all had the urge to pound back a few while waiting for the dryer to finish, stop by Igor’s for the epitome of a dive bar with the added convenience of being able to launder your clothes as soon as you mess them up. And with giant bloody marys and cheap beer flowing like fabric softener, you’re definitely gonna mess up your clothes.