Down in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the must-visit bars extend well past the rough and rowdy pubs lining Bourbon Street.
This cultural, historical, and geographical focal point of the city offers up a number of bars whose age, reputation, and drinks have preceded them for decades…if not centuries.
To add a splash of sophistication and age-old wisdom to your pub-crawl through New Orleans, try these historic hangouts for wine, beer, and cocktails.
Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel: If you tend to take one sip of alcohol and experience the spins, the Carousel Bar is probably not the best idea for you. However those that can handle a bar that actually spins will appreciate this historic New Orleans watering hole.
Mentioned in the writings of Ernest Hemingway, Monteleone Hotel’s Carousel Bar features a wild circus theme. Set up in the French Quarter of the city, the stools on the bar rotate around the central hub, making for a bar that will truly have you spinning. Order up a Vieux Carré Cocktail, the Carousel’s signature cocktail and try not to feel dizzy from either the bar or the cocktail.
Napoleon House: When you are well over 200 years old, you can actually boast of embodying “Old World charm”. The Napoleon House in New Orleans opened its doors in 1797 and doesn’t look a day under 200. As classical and jazz music plays gently in the background, drinkers come for the signature Pimm’s Cup and of course the civilized surroundings. The Napoleon House features arched doorways, wood worn surfaces, a tiled floor and paint still peeling for its origins. This New Orleans drinking spot has long been a favorite of artists and writers. While the man himself never stayed here, the mayor of New Orleans Nicholas Girod invited Napoleon, lending the establishment its name.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop: With the claim of being the oldest bar in the French Quarter, while now a bit touristy, a trip through this area’s bar scene wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. The brick cottage oozes with atmosphere, a construction that began between 1722 and 1732. This New Orleans staple is also a bit of a survivor. It managed to avoid destruction after two great fires at the turn of the 19th century. Step into this space or just admire it from outside and time travel really does seem possible.
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar: With its tiled floor, custom built bar from the late 1800s and French bistro feel, French 75 Bar is easily one of the French Quarter’s historic standouts. The sophisticated addition to the nightlife of New Orleans’ French Quarter invites all to “rediscover the art of the cocktail”. Cocktails are king here, where the bartenders know it all and no cocktails is out of reach.
CC Flickr photo credit: David Coggins