Mardi Gras Survival Guide Slideshow

From Steve Yamada, bartender at the Hotel Modern

Go Uptown. "Aside from a more relaxed and 'family-friendly' vibe, catching parades Uptown also allows you to check out some of the spots in that area," says Yamada. In other words, escape from the French Quarter. "I especially like being around Napoleon and St. Charles because that puts me within walking distance of Freret Street and all of the great restaurants and bars such as Cure and the High Hat Cafe."

Make reservations now! "The population of the city will nearly triple during Mardi Gras," points out Yamada. "If there are restaurants or bars that you have to go to while you're here, make your reservations now, or else plan on eating a lot of Popeyes." It’s true: Don’t count on walking into hot spots like Cochon during the festivities. 

From Brian Adee, bartender, Loa

Service is a two-way street. "Be nice to the people serving you," advises Adee of visitors’ interactions with bartenders and servers in the bars and restaurants you’ll frequent between parades, "and you'll have a better time all-around."

Bring comfortable shoes. Seriously ladies, no high heels, and bring "an extra pair of socks or two in whatever sort of bag you're carrying," says Adee. Did we mention drinks tend to get spilled during the festivities?

Find public restrooms. "Don't pee in public. Seriously."

From Ti Martin and Lally Brennan, the “Cocktail Chicks,” of Commander’s Palace

Pray for or seek out an invitation to a Mardi Gras party. "They’re usually near the parade route and you can come and go from the parade to the party, whether it’s to powder your nose, munch on king cake, gumbo, or grillades and grits," says Martin.

If you’re making a day of it, map your plan. "No doubt, like the Zulu Parade, you will veer off route, but having some pit stops planned is critical," notes Brennan. "Are you walking down St. Charles Avenue and stopping in at Delachaise? Or, are you going early in the morning to Faubourg Marigny to see the unbelievable costumes?" The "Cocktail Chicks" also offer this brilliant tip:  The drag queens are dragging (aka looking a little less fresh) after noon.

Try to be a pro about imbibing. "Don’t mix the grain and the grape. Remember, the Cocktail Chicks say it’s not at all attractive to be drunk," say Martin and Brennan. "We drink milk punch Mardi Gras Day. All the better if you make it the night before, allowing it to marinate overnight." 

From Lu Brow, Bar Chef, Café Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar

Be sure to carry either a backpack or satchel. "This way you can pack bottled water, have a place for the throws that you catch, and have a safe place to store your ID and cash," says Brow.

Go all out! Dressing up for Mardi Gras isn’t just for those lucky enough to be in the parades. "Wear a fun costume, wigs, and bring a fun sign to get noticed," says Brow. "Be prepared with a great yell, and remember the phrase 'Hey pretty lady, throw me something baby!' if you want to catch the good stuff."


From Cole Newton of Twelve Mile Limit

Hydrate to dominate. "It seems obvious, but drink as much water as you can. Ideally have a drink of water between each alcoholic beverage," points out Newton, who is known for making some of the best drinks in town. "The more alcohol you drink, the more difficult it becomes to remember to hydrate, so be especially vigilant early on and lay that foundation. In addition to improving your endurance as a drinker, hydration will help you feel worlds better the next morning."

From Holly Williams, bartender, director of The Barman's Fund NOLA

Come to the bar prepared. "Help us help you more efficiently: Have your drink order and cash/credit card ready to go when you belly up to the bar," says Williams, pointing to hyper-crowding at bars during Mardi Gras. "Your bartender and your fellow patrons will be much obliged." Especially during Mardi Gras, no one wants to wait for a drink.

From Patrick Van Hoorebeek of Patrick’s Bar Vin

Start your day with something in your stomach. It’s simple, "Don't skip breakfast!" says Van Hoorebeek, though he also notes visitors should "start the day with a Bloody Mary" just to get in the spirit. 

Drink the ultimate New Orleans drink during Mardi Gras

Not sure what to order at the bar — or need a way to join in the fun at home? The Brandy Milk Punch, made by Ti Martin and Lally Brennan of Commander’s Palace, will do the trick. Click here to see the recipe for the Brandy Milk Punch.