Partying at French Quarter Fest can be serious work. If you’re looking to take a break there’s few places better than one of the French Quarter’s classic bars — and there’s no shortage of them.
We’ve highlighted a few of our favorites below, along with a couple of brand-new classics to add to the pantheon. Have some favorites of your own? Add them in the comments below and we’ll update the story.
Arnaud’s French 75
813 Bienville St.
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar was named one of GQ’s top-25 bars in the country. Adjacent to the main restaurant, the focus is on upscale cocktails and classic New Orleans drink recipes... Like the namesake French 75, a mixture of brandy and champagne.
The bar sits below one of the best open secrets in the city, to boot: the Arnaud’s Mardi Gras Museum, which is free and open to the public.
Arnaud’s French 75 opens daily at 5:30 p.m.
The Napoleon House
500 Chartres St.
The Napoleon House is located in the heart of the French Quarter, on the corner of Chartres and Royal Streets. The name derives from an offer of refuge made to Napoleon Bonaparte during his second exile... Even though Napoleon never made it, the name stuck.
The Napoleon house serves lunch food in a classic but relaxed setting, and no visit is complete without sipping on their signature Pimm’s Cup while relaxing in the interior courtyard.
The Napoleon House opens each day at 11 a.m. Closing times vary by day of the week.
The Carousel Bar
214 Royal St. (The Monteleone Hotel)
The Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone is the city’s only revolving bar. Installed in 1949 and overlooking Royal Street, it has 25 seats, turns on 2000 steel rollers, and makes a single revolution every 15 minutes.
In the early days of the Carousel, the Monteleone also used to be home to the Swan Room, which hosted performers from all over the world.
The Carousel Bar underwent extensive renovations in 2011, including the addition of a new bar top and better lighting, but the carousel top and hand-painted chairs remain the same.
The bar opens seven days a week at 11 a.m., and food is served from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
823 Decatur St.
Tujague’s has been in the news a lot these past few weeks... Will the owner sell the building to a local tee-shirt shop magnate, forcing this historic restaurant to close? While the drama plays out, make sure you stop in for a bite to eat in the restaurant, and a drink at what’s billed as New Orleans’ oldest stand-up bar.
The bar itself and the giant ornate mirror behind it were brought over from France in 1856. The mirror is older than that, still — it came from a Paris bistro where it had hung for 90 years.
This is a place for classic drinks, like the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Sazerac, so order accordingly. Dinner is served from 5 – 10 p.m. daily; lunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
941 Bourbon St.
Named after the pirate who helped Jackson’s troops defeat the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop has the distinction of being the oldest structure in the country being used as a bar today. Legend has it the pirate used the building as one of the bases for his smuggling operation.
Lafitte’s can get pretty crowded and loud sometimes, but it’s worth a trip to the far end of Bourbon to catch the scene by candlelight, and grab a seat at the piano bar.
Lafitte’s is open pretty much all the time (though the piano music tends to kick off after 9 p.m.). It’s Bourbon St., after all.
219 North Peters St.
Saint Lawrence is a “high-concept bar food” spot, built out in the old daiquiri shop next to Coyote Ugly on Decatur Street. They cater to tourists, sure, but focus on the midday CBD lunch crowds and stay open to 2 a.m. to for service industry regulars getting off of work late.
The food is locally-sourced (don’t miss the terrific burger... really, don’t), the drinks plentiful and wet, and there are even still daiquiris — just more of the craft variety, like Pimm’s Cup and Louisiana Muscadine White Sangria.
St. Lawrence is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.
Perestroika at Pravda
1113 Decatur Street
The owners of Bellocq and Cure came into Pravda and have been revamping it, though with mixed success. However, it’s still worth a trip to grab a craft cocktail and sit in the well-apportioned front room, or take it out back to the courtyard. Just don’t expect your drink to get there very quickly.
Perestroika at Pravda is home to an array of food popup concepts that pass through their small kitchen in the back, which is my favorite thing about the place. Don’t miss NOLA Seoul — pretty darn delicious Korean food.
Perestroika at Pravda is open 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse
300 Bourbon St.
Located inside the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon St., Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse is an intimate setting to wind down in after work, with the benefit of live jazz each night of the week.
The bar serves snack food (though John Folse’s Restaurant R’evolution is right down the hall, so why bother?) and all the regular array of cocktails. Jazz performances, including by the Grammy-winning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, start at 8 p.m.
Happy hour runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday.
820 North Rampart St.
Located on the edge of the French Quarter, Bar Tonique has become the local hangout for the city’s burgeoning nonprofit cadre — not least of which due to the 25% discount for nonprofit workers before 8 p.m.
The bar is small but comfortable, and the bartenders knowledgeable and friendly. There’s no food, but an extensive collection of beers, spirits, wines and liqueurs. They also make their own ginger beer and bacon-infused vodka.
Bar Tonique is open from noon to 2 a.m. every day.