New Orleans is the origin of some of the most well known classic cocktails in the world (cue the Sazerac), and is the Mecca to which the spirits industry makes its annual pilgrimage. So you’d expect to find some real talent behind the bars. And you will. Because needless to say, the city is rife with bartenders who know a thing or two about good drinks and where to find them.
To tap into their collective wealth of knowledge, we’ve enlisted a handful of those experts to share where they go on a night off in the Big Easy.
Chris Hannah, Arnaud’s French 75
But then comes Saturday night, and I’m done. I bike to my neighborhood one-two punch—a bourbon at Barrel Proof and then a beer and a shot at The Saint. On my nights off, I either indulge in wine at Delachaise or Bacchanal. When I have a completely free Monday night I’ll enjoy beers at Pal’s Lounge, and even take one to go and walk to the Bayou, where I’ll sit alone and count the nutria.”
Kent Westmoreland, Cocktail Bar & Polo Lounge (Windsor Court Hotel)
“When I crave a finely crafted cocktail (which is most of the time), I seek out Matt Lo Fink at Cure and the Bombay Club. If Matt isn’t available, then I head to the bar at Compère Lapin. If I’m looking for classic atmosphere, you can find me at the Columns Hotel sipping a Bombay Sapphire and tonic in the back room or on the veranda.
When I’m incognito, my doppelgänger can usually be found at the Touche Bar in the French Quarter playing Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich on the fabulous jukebox.”
T. Cole Newton, Twelve Mile Limit
“I don’t drink a lot any more, but when I do I usually wind up at The Avenue Pub—a 24 hour craft beer bar on St. Charles with one of the city’s best whiskey collections—or Mimi’s in the Marigny, which has good food late and is always a hub on party days like Mardi Gras or Halloween. There’s also The Saint; everyone loves The Saint.”
Steven Tomonari Yamada, Latitude 29 and Twelve Mile Limit
“One of the big things that’s great in New Orleans is that the bar community really supports each other, so you’ll see us at each others’ bars often. A little more off the beaten path is Pal’s Lounge, where I like to go to play air hockey and pinball.
Cosimo’s in the Quarter is a good stop on the way home for me. Brother’s III is a 24-hour bar where you’ll find a lot of your bartenders relaxing and listening to one of the two jukeboxes—one of which only has country music. And The Saint is really great on slower nights to enjoy the laid-back environment. Other nights (usually weekends), it’s a party. Santos, a new bar by the same guys as The Saint, is really cool as well.”
Paul Gustings, Tujague’s Restaurant
“There are a few places I go that I really enjoy. I’ve been going to Erin Rose for 35 years now, and I love it because you can meet people there from all over the world. French 75… because Chris Hannah is incredible. But even when he isn’t there, I visit because I love the bar and the history behind it.
Latitude 29 is another favorite. It’s a tiki bar, and I don’t even like tiki. I’ll stop into Cane & Table on occasion, too, because I really like the people. Even before I worked at Tujague’s, I went there. It all comes down to who’s behind the bar.”
Daniel Victory, Victory and Drink Lab
“When it comes to me drinking outside of work, my staff and I will often stay at our bar, Victory, and the rule is to talk about anything but work.
If it’s crawfish season, once or twice a week I’ll go to Three Legged Dog and get boiled crawfish straight from the pot. It’s cold beers and hot crawfish at 2 o’clock in the morning. And really, I don’t go to bars, I go to bartenders. I like to go and see people that care about what they’re putting in a cocktail and respect their bars. I love to go see Chris McMillian at Revel—talking with him is the best form of education I’ve found. And Catfish at Gemini does a lot of great stuff for the Barman’s Fund, so I’ll go see him to support what he’s doing.
If I can, I like to get out of town to find new places and see what they’re doing in other cities.”