Best Bourbon In New Orleans – In every way, New Orleans is the city that most straddles that high, low bar. Not just in Louisiana, but all over the United States. Sip in a golden cocktail paradise where classic cocktails were invented, then stumble out for a whirlwind street cocktail – yes, it’s street legal here, which is obvious upon arrival. While almost every bar in New Orleans embraces the raucous lifestyle, nothing exemplifies this duality like Bourbon Street, located in the middle of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
This French Quarter is the city’s most famous area and oldest district, and New Orleans’ Bourbon Street is the main attraction for parties. It is lined with strip clubs, diving and live music venues. Some are worth the time, others are not, but the street itself is something to experience. Bourbon Street was first laid out in 1721 and named after the French Bourbon royal family. It extends 13 blocks between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue. Some choose to approach Bourbon Street with history in mind, eating and drinking only in century-old establishments. Others choose the highest bar bands. There are many options to choose from in both.
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Any way you look at it, you’re doing Bourbon Street wrong by going to just one bar. The bars on Bourbon Street are packed, so it’s easy to party all night. Take advantage of being able to walk from place to place with a drink in hand. Here are 14 bars on Bourbon Street that you must visit at least once.
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A quick note on the selection: Only bars physically located on Bourbon Street, not the wider French Quarter, were considered. With so much drinking history and passion for drinks in this city, there are bound to be strong opinions about what’s left. These are simply the top Bourbon Street bars to visit—feel free to talk to us, but only after we’ve been given a hand grenade.
Apart from the Hurricane, NOLA’s most famous oversized and overpowered drink is the Kézigrana. There’s only one bar chain where you can legally get real hand grenades (seriously, it’s trademarked and aggressively controlled), and that’s Tropical Island. The bar’s motto is “Where the fun begins and the memories last forever,” but do yourself a favor and just a hand grenade if you want to keep those memories alive. Located on the corner of Bourbon and Orleans, the bar has a live webcam so you can show the world all the great choices you make on Bourbon Street.
Locations: (Original) 600 Bourbon Street, (Bourbon) 721 Bourbon Street, (Bayou Club and Music Bar) 610 Bourbon Street and (Little Dropical Isle) 435 Bourbon Street
Think New York’s famous disco club Studio 54, but with an extra “4” and a special client from NOLA. There’s a raised stage for regular live music (rhythm and blues is proudly displayed on the bar’s entrance sign) and the drinks are designed to get you dancing. After all, you need to find something to do with the energy from the sweet cocktails.
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It’s not a literal beach, but New Orleans is one of those places where you can make your place whatever you want it to be. The Beach on Bourbon claims to have the largest dance floor of all the bars on Bourbon Street. If you want to capture the atmosphere without having to deal with the crowd of people dancing below, head to the VIP balcony area on the second floor. On the Bourbon beach, you can also watch a sports match on one of the several TVs. Come prepared for game days because New Orleans is very much a sports town.
Open 10am to 3am Bourbon Pub and Parade is a gay bar open since 1974. Downstairs is the “tavern” section, and upstairs is the “parade”. There are events and themes every night, including karaoke, drag shows and Throwback Tuesday with hits from the 80s and 90s. On Fridays and Saturdays, the screens broadcast music videos all night long.
Avoid the cheap beer and cocktails made with sweet mixers for a while at Bourbon O. It started using fresh-squeezed citrus fruits and house ingredients in 2013, and the quality still shows today. There is an impressive whiskey list and a healthy classic cocktail list. That means you’ll probably pay more for drinks than some of the other bars on Bourbon Street, but it’s worth it. Live jazz music starts every night at 8pm.
It was opened in the 1930s by a boxing promoter who wanted to emulate a Manhattan nightclub. Famous Door quickly became known.
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Place for New Orleans jazz. Its musical reputation continues to hold the bill for cover bands, proving it’s still a fun pub for music, dancing and drinks.
Moodier than you’d expect, but still worth a visit. It’s part bar, part restaurant, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It’s styled after the brothels and burlesque halls of the old red light district (complete with red velvet), and a portion of the proceeds are donated to charities around the world.
Maison Bourbon offers live jazz, a rarity on Bourbon Street. In fact, it’s one of two jazz bars on Bourbon and bills itself as the only “Dixieland Jazz Club” in the French Quarter. There is no cover charge and there is a nice patio at the back of the club where guests can drink and hang out. Great entertainment on the otherwise noisy Bourbon Street, music lovers find refuge at Maison Bourbon.
Lafitte’s blacksmith shop is said to be the oldest saloon building in the country. The name comes from privateer and slave trader Jean Lafitte, who, according to legend, used the building as a warehouse in the early 1800s. Today is a muddy and damp watering hole. Travel back in time and order a beer or a simple mixed drink in a plastic cup. Be prepared to strain your eyes, though, because you’ll be drinking by candlelight.
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There is no shortage of strip clubs on Bourbon Street and in New Orleans in general. In the vast majority of them, only women are on stage. Not so in Oz. Oz is a gay dance club with live striptease shows, a balcony bar and nightly events such as drag shows and comedy. It is open 24 hours a day.
The Old Absinthe House has existed since 1807. Lafitte’s Kovácsműhely is related to private owner Jean Lafitte. According to legend, the bar is where Lafitte and Andrew Jackson agreed to join the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. There is no record of what they drank, but the business worked. The ultimate drink is the Absinthe Frappe, invented in 1874 and quickly becoming a favorite of writers such as Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain.
Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub has been inviting jazz musicians and jazz lovers from around the world since 1969. The food may be nothing to write home about and the drinks may be hit or miss, but you’ll be waiting for the live music. Note that it can get crowded during popular series.
Meow Cats has been around since the 1990s and has become a karaoke institution. You make the music here – or someone else can, and includes big name stops like Miley Cyrus, Charles Barkley, Seal, Weird Al Yankovic, Stormy Daniels and more. Get there early for the three-for-one happy hour offered daily from noon to 8 p.m., enough to get you through some mean singers.
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Come see the B Street Benny band. The Bourbon Bandstand offers live music or a DJ every night, as well as regular happy hour and drink specials at the upstairs balcony bar. It’s noisy day and night and the music is always set to ‘the hits’. Luckily, there’s plenty of room on the dance floor to show off all your moves.
Bourbon Street is famous for being the birthplace of jazz music. Iconic musicians like Jelly Roll Morton frequented the jazz clubs of Bourbon Street, and there are still many jazz clubs on this street with wild crowds and loud music. Today, Bourbon Street is just as famous for its loud parties. Crowds spill out of bars into the streets, shops sell frozen drinks that you can enjoy while walking, musicians play on side streets, and groups of friends dance in the streets. Drinking outside and on the go is probably one of the main features that makes Bourbon Street such a popular and iconic destination.
Yes, Bourbon Street is safe. However, it is important to be aware that people on Bourbon Street are noisy. Drinks are plentiful and flowing, and people go there