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.
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
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
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.
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.
Hang at Dive Bars
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.
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.
Try Local Rum
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
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
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.
Add Louisiana hot sauce to your Bloody Mary for an extra kick. We prefer Tabasco but taste them all to find your favorite.
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
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.
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
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!
Pin It for Later
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.
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.