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Having a drink in New Orleans is a dangerous proposition. One cocktail quickly leads to a second, and then a third...until you find yourself closing down Bourbon Street and wandering back to your hotel as the sun comes up. This is a familiar phenomenon for anyone who has attended Tales of the Cocktail or has just spent time in the Crescent City. To help you figure out where to drink and how to recover (all-night breakfast anyone?), here are a few of my favorite places in NOLA. I’ll see you at the bar.
The Cocktail Master
Chris McMillian has tended bar all over New Orleans and has built up a loyal following. Make sure to go to Bar UnCommon (inside the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel) on a night when he’s working and order a bartender’s choice, since, after all, you’re in the hands of a cocktail master.
Cure, 4905 Freret Street, 504 302 2357:
New Orleans is famous for being home to the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz. But if you’re looking for incredibly tasty and original cocktails, head to Cure. The bar employs some of the city’s finest mixologists, including Kirk Estopinal, Danny Valdez and Neil Bodenheimer.
The Best Whiskey and Beer Selection
d.b.a., 618 Frenchmen Street, 504 9423731:
A world of whiskey and beer await you at d.b.a., just past the French Quarter. While the funky jazz bar offers an amazing drinks menu (arguably the city’s best), you won’t find any pretension or snobbery here: just a good time.
The Perfect French 75
Stepping into the French 75 Bar is like entering a time warp. The bar has an old-world elegance and a menu of fine cognacs and cocktails, including its namesake. Not a surprise since it’s an offshoot of classic NOLA restaurant Arnaud’s and Chris Hannah is behind the stick.
Drinks with a History Chaser
Lafitte’s dates back to the early 1700s, and, despite its name, the establishment is now actually a fine tavern. It may even be the oldest building used as a bar in the country. Whether or not that’s true, Lafitte’s has centuries of character and is worth a visit.
Last Call on Bourbon Street
A favorite watering hole for Tales of the Cocktail faithful, the historic Old Absinthe House has been around since the 1800s. There is plenty of history to discuss, but that’s just about the last thing on anyone’s mind as the bartenders pour Jameson shots and cups of cold beer.
New Orleans Hangover Cure
Daisy Dukes, 121 Chartres Street, 800 613 2479:
No matter what time you stumble into Daisy Dukes, you can order almost every New Orleans classic comfort food—from po’boys and gumbo to jambalaya. This greasy institution is also famous for serving breakfast 24 hours a day and just might be your savior after a long night.
An Eye Opener
Beignets and strong chicory coffee have been a New Orleans tradition at Café Du Monde since 1862. Few things taste better first thing in the morning than a plate of these pillows of hot fried dough, heavily dusted in powdered sugar. The French Market location is also open 24 hours a day if you have a late-night craving.
A Lesson in Cocktail Culture
Take a break from your bar crawl to drink in some mixology history. Visit the Museum of the American Cocktail and check out its collection of vintage glassware, tools and classic cocktail books. It’s the perfect last call on your drinker’s tour of New Orleans.