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What to Drink in New Orleans

There is no excuse for being thirsty in New Orleans. Read on to learn about the best New Orleans drinks and where to drink them.

Drinking in New Orleans - Sazerac on Bar
If you drink one drink in New Orleans, make it a Sazerac.

New Orleans is a port city where the good times roll, and liquor has long played a role in the city’s history. It’s even been said that cocktails were invented in New Orleans.

That claim is debatable. However, it’s no debate that the Sazerac cocktail was invented here by Antoine Peychaud in the early 1800s.

This complex drink that is strong, spicy and sweet all at the same time was deemed the official cocktail of New Orleans in 2008. A mixture of rye whiskey, Herbsaint and bitters, the Sazerac is a 2foodtrippers favorite whenever we’re drinking in New Orleans.

Click here to book a three-hour Cocktail History Tour.

New Orleans Drinks Guide

Mindi Enjoying a Sazerac, the Official Cocktail of New Orleans - Drinking in New Orleans
Mindi never says no to a Sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans.

Drinking in the Big Easy is a highlight of any visit whether you spend a week or just two days in New Orleans. From locally produced Abita beer to French wine to crafted cocktails and even to coffee, the Crescent City has enough drinks for everybody. And then some more, just in case.

We recommend that you plan your New Orleans drinking strategy in advance since you won’t want to miss a sip. When you do, be sure to follow these instructions:

Drink New Orleans Cocktails at Historic Bars

Certain drinks are famously linked to New Orleans such as the aforementioned Sazerac, as well as the Daiquiri, Brandy Milk Punch and French 75 cocktails.

Similarly, certain bars are well-known for specific drinks like the Napoleon House for Pimm’s Cups and Pat O’Brien’s for Hurricanes. Arnaud’s specializes in French 75 cocktails at the French 75 Bar but you can also drink the champagne cocktail at Luke. It’s important to visit these liquid landmarks so you can try all of the most famous cocktails in New Orleans.

Sometimes, though, it’s fun to get “go cups” from the nearest bar and buy something basic to drink during your walk to the next bar. Yes, it’s legal to walk around with open containers in New Orleans.

→ Click here to book a 2.5-hour New Orleans Cocktail Tour with Cocktail Samples.

Purple VooDoo Machine at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans
The Purple VooDoo Machine at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop in New Orleans

Given the city’s history, it makes sense that the oldest bar in the country, or at least the bar in the oldest building (circa 1772) in the country, is on Bourbon Street. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a bustling yet charming tavern that relies on candles for its main room lighting.

Lafitte’s has a full bar and plenty of Abita beer, but the Purple VooDoo Daiquiri is the real draw. It’s fun to try the overly sweet purple drink at least once in your life, though once is probably enough.

→ Click here to book a New Orleans Bourbon Street VIP Pub Crawl.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is located at 941 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA.
Napoleon House is located at 500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA.
Pat O’Brien’s Bar is located at 718 St Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA.

Hang at Dive Bars

Wendy Serving Kick Ass Cocktails at St. Roch Tavern in New Orleans
Wendy Served us kick-ass cocktails at St. Roch Tavern in New Orleans. Photo Courtesy of Karl Seifert.

Dive bars abound in New Orleans. Two of our favorites are Coop’s Place right in the French Quarter and St. Roch Tavern in the nearby Bywater neighborhood.

Both bars serve up great drinks with tasty local food and loads of character – all for reasonable prices. We highly recommend the jambalaya and fried chicken at Coop’s when you need a break from drinking. Or better yet to go with more drinks.

Pro Tip
Visit the St. Roch Cemetery before or after you drink at St. Roch Tavern. This cemetery provides a fascinating glimpse into New Orleans’ storied past over the centuries.

Coop’s Place is located at 1109 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA.
St. Roch Tavern is located at 1200 St Roch Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA.

Try Local Rum

Old New Orleans Rum in New Orleans
Old New Orleans Rum produces rum in New Orleans.

To make good drinks in New Orleans, you need good ingredients. One of our favorite ingredients happens to be locally made.

Old New Orleans Rum is distilled in the city’s 9th ward, and the distillery offers $10 tours during the week. Bottles of the flavorful rum are also available at liquor shops throughout the city, though the best price we saw was at the CVS on Canal Street.

→ Click here to book a Distillery Tour.

Old New Orleans Rum Distillery is located at 2815 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70122, USA.

Relax with a Frozen Irish Coffee

Frozen Irish Coffee at Molly's at the Market in New Orleans
Frozen Irish Coffee at Molly’s at the Market

Being in the bayou, it’s not unusual for the Crescent City to get hot and humid during the summer months. We recommend taking an air-conditioned break at Molly’s at the Market where you can enjoy a Frozen Irish Coffee.

Made with Kleinpeter ice cream and Irish whiskey and then topped with whipped cream and coffee grinds, this drink is a cooling, delicious treat.

→ Click here to book a 2.5-hour Cocktail Walking Tour and discover the bars in New Orleans.

Molly’s at the Market is located at 1107 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA.

Start Early with a Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary at Elizabeth's in New Orleans
Bloody Mary at Elizabeth’s in the Bywater

New Orleans is a 24/7 city, and this means that drinking in New Orleans is possible all day long. When there, we generally start drinking early with Bloody Mary’s to get the good times rolling.

Pro Tip
Add Louisiana hot sauce to your Bloody Mary for an extra kick. We prefer Tabasco but taste them all to find your favorite.

Pace Yourself

Drinking in New Orleans - Sazerac
it’s not hard to find a Sazerac in New Orleans.

Since the drinking in New Orleans starts early and goes until the wee hours of the night, we recommend pacing yourself and sharing drinks with your friends.

→ Click here to book a 2-hour Haunted Pub Crawl to acclimate yourself to the best bars in the French Quarter.

Start Your Day with Coffee

Daryl Hirsch Enjoys a Cafe au Lait at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans
Daryl Enjoyed this Café au Lait at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.

To be clear, not all drinks in New Orleans are alcoholic. Sweet tea is common in many of the local eateries – New Orleans is a southern city after all.

As for us, we like to drink coffee drinks at Café du Monde at least once during every New Orleans trip. A cup of chicory coffee mixed with steamed milk is a worthy accompaniment to the powder sugary beignets that are served by the venerable café in massive quantities.

Pro Tip
Stop by one or more specialty coffee houses if you love third wave coffee as much as we do. We recommend Revelator Coffee Company, Spitfire Coffee and Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Café du Monde is located at 800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA.
Revelator Coffee Company is located at 637 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA.
Spitfire Coffee is located at 627 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters is located at 610 Carondelet Street, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA.

Final Thoughts on New Orlenas Drinks

Drinking in New Orleans - French 75
Don’t leave New Orleans without trying a French 75. That would be wrong.

When we’re home, we mostly drink wine and beer. When we’re in New Orleans, however, we drink everything from Fireball shots to fancy-schmancy cocktails.

It’s like being back in college but with much spicier food, po boys and no classes. Cheers to drinking in New Orleans!

Planning Checklist

Hungry for Food in NOLA?

Check out our New Orleans Food Guide for the city’s best cheap eats.

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Pinterest image: two images of New Orleans with caption reading 'Cocktails in New Orleans'
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About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.


We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Important Update
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.

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Jen Seligmann

Thursday 2nd of July 2015

Totally what to try one of those drinks from the voodoo machine! I think a fun night would be had after a few of those!!!!


Wednesday 17th of December 2014

The liquid offerings of New Orleans have me even more excited for my upcoming trip!


Tuesday 12th of August 2014

You guys make me wonder why I haven't been to New Orleans yet. Looks like such a fun place to visit!