Where to Drink During Tales of the Cocktail Slideshow

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New Orleans knows how to put on a party: where to drink whether you’re boozing at TOTC or not

Handsome Willy’s

Wondering what’s in this bar’s signature Handsome Juice? The regulars at this out-of-the-Quarter former brothel — located near the Superdome and medical district — don’t ask, and neither should you. The main point is that it acts as fuel for the high energy Funk and Crunk parties held on Friday nights. Prepare to get down.

Bonus Tip: Free bites, which have previously included barbecue chicken and pork sandwiches, are occasionally on offer, and a spacious backyard patio complete with picnic tables makes it the perfect place to relax with an ice-cold beer.

Tivoli & Lee

Happy hours in New Orleans are hard to beat: Just consider the daily special at this chic Lee Circle restaurant, located in the Hotel Modern. Score $1 Miller High Life beers and $1 pork sliders from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., or just saddle up to the copper-topped bar for an expertly made cocktail from bartender Steven Yamada. The Slightly Sinister features Eagle Rare Bourbon and Creole bitters, highlighting the bar’s predilection for bourbons: Fans of the spirit can also try one of three bourbon flights on offer.  

SoBou

Located just one block away from the Hotel Monteleone, Tales attendees looking to refresh their palates can slip in for a $3 beer at this sleek cocktail hot spot all week — you’ll find Brooklyn Lager, Red Stripe, and Bayou Bock on offer, among other refreshing suds. And if Louisiana’s infamous July humidity is taking its toll, cool down with an ice-cold Sno-ball created by ebullient bar chef Abigail Gullo and snack on alligator corn dogs and short rib sliders. If the mood strikes, Gullo may just break out into song — so consider your visit dinner and a show. 


Kingfish

Yelp/ Alisa L.

Cocktails made by local legend and Louisiana native Chris McMillian? Check. Sleek décor including polished wood and pressed tin? Check. A piano for live music several nights a week? Check. French Quarter newcomer Kingfish has these things and more — including a menu of clever, meat-focused small bites, like Shakshuka Gator (featuring an egg "softly" cooked in a skillet of alligator ragù) and duck cracklins’, making it a prime spot to fill up on local treats before returning to the Monteleone. 

Commander’s Palace

If you’ve never been to this circa-1880 restaurant — arguably New Orleans’s most famous dining destination — you ought to make the (short) streetcar trek uptown for lunch during Tales. You can’t beat the two-course lunch starting at $16 with $0.25 martinis (offered Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Bar chef Ferrel Dugas is also offering cocktail flights, including a Saint 75, Mai Tai, and Cucumber Blossom cocktail, for $12. 

Rib Room

Following a massive renovation to the gorgeous Omni Royal Orleans hotel, the traditional Rib Room got a contemporary makeover, but the restaurant’s signature Washbucket Martinis remain a staple of the menu. On Fridays, the hotel serves its beloved oversized martinis — prepared on a traditional martini cart with Belvedere vodka — and at throwback prices (they’re a bargain at $2 a pop!), they draw a fun-loving crowd. 

Bacchanal

Head to the Bywater — New Orleans’s most eclectic neighborhood (yes, you’ll have to leave the French Quarter) — to experience this beloved, bohemian wine-centric bar. Grab a bottle of wine in the shop up front, snatch up a few wine glasses, and head to Bacchanal’s spacious backyard, outfitted with tiki torches and patio furniture, before making a toast to Tales. There’s live music nightly and cocktails located in the wood-accented upstairs bar. Just don’t forget that reservations are not accepted, and seating is first come, first served.  

The Lucky Rooster

Located about a 10-minute walk outside of the Quarter in the Central Business District, this sleek newcomer offers "Asian Street Snacks" and clever cocktails with a tropical bent, like the Lucky Cobbler with fino sherry and pineapple Thai basil shrubb ($8). Want to take a break from boozing altogether? Opt for a nonalcoholic Sparkle Pop — made with house-made syrups and fresh juices — like the delicious Cardamom Kola. Don’t forget to try an oversized fortune cookie with handwritten notes composed by waitstaff. On a recent visit, I discovered that my spirit animal is Beyoncé. (I knew it!)