Top 10 Bars In New Orleans

18 May 2015

Up-and-coming Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee said in recent times: “New Orleans is awake all night and every night is a party.” He’s not wrong, and you can bet your bottom dollar there’s a great bar around every corner, whether you’re in the heart of the French Quarter, raging on in Uptown or in search of something quaint in Treme.

In New Orleans – the Louisiana city in the southern United States – there is an undeniable charm about the bar and hotels’ wrought iron balconies overhung with dazzling Mardi Gras beads, their burnished wooden shutters flung open to welcome one and all. But you mustn’t forget to venture outside the hype of Bourbon Street to discover even more of the best bars and pubs. Here are 10 of the hottest bars in NOLA.

Funky Pirate Blues Club (Bourbon Street)

Without question, Bourbon Street explodes with a smorgasbord of interesting pubs and bars, and music lovers are advised to slip into some “down and dirty blues”, as one punter told me, at the Funky Pirate. It is adorned with pirate decor and with Lil Funky, the party pirate, firing up the atmosphere, the music is pumping. Internationally acclaimed Big Al Carson and the Blues Masters strut their stuff while patrons sample the venue’s renowned Hand Grenades and Shark Attacks.

The Little Gem Saloon (Rampart Street)

Don’t you love it when just about every hot venue in town is booked out and your in-the-know Roosevelt hotel concierge whispers in your ear some undiscovered gem that you should try? So it turns out this one was indeed a gem, The Little Gem Saloon, around the corner from all the action and a little charmer that bursts with awesome flavours dished up from the restaurant, while one of New Orleans’ finest acts is performing on stage. This bar offers a modern twist on an historic space that first introduced New Orleans’ jazz to the world and is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Superdome and streetcar line, and within blocks of the French Quarter.

Tipitina’s (Napoleon Ave)

Step outside the Quarter and into Uptown for a venue that all the locals rave about – you won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for a high-energy venue where it’s as much about dancing as it is enjoying some bevvies. Tipitina’s serves up a dose of Cajun music once a month and just about everything else on the other nights, including funk, rock, jazz, burlesque and indie. Its charm lies in its compact size, dim lighting, poster-laden walls and an atmosphere that seriously buzzes.

Fat Catz (Bourbon Street)

A popular one for tourists, there’s always a good DJ by day and ripper bands by night. But be warned – those shot girls at the bar are dangerous and don’t be surprised if you’ve suddenly consumed copious amounts of jello shots while rocking out to some sweet music. Fat Catz is all the rage at present for a smokin’ hot house band called RockBox.

The Maison (Frenchmen Street)

Say hello to jazz guitar heaven, a cosy venue where balancing four beers and four plates of gumbo on the tiny tables can be a challenge, just ask me! This upbeat music bar features some of the finest brass bands kicking about in NOLA and Monday open mic nights are also well worth popping in for some rising talent. It has a crackerjack balcony lounge and is another of those haunts the locals love.

The Krazy Korner (Bourbon Street)

Get down and boogie to some serious zydeco or R&B at The Krazy Korner, which boasts the largest covered balcony for people watching on the corner of Bourbon and St Peter streets. There’s always some high-quality jazz and blues on offer.

21st Amendment Bar at La Louisiane (Iberville Street)

Photo: 21st Amendment Bar

Oh the irony of drinking a Sazerac in the 21st Amendment Bar! It’s a hot spot that pays tribute to the end of Prohibition with a serious 1920s vibe. This is the place to dabble in some of New Orleans’ most creative cocktails. Must slip into the Acme Oyster across the street beforehand.

Bourbon Cowboy (Bourbon Street)

Whether it’s day or night, the Bourbon Cowboy is a happening honky-tonk with drinks flowing, smiles all round, a cool upstairs balcony for people watching and punters having a crack at the menacing mechanical bull downstairs. This is certainly a pub featuring some of the coolest country acts you’ll ever see.

Candlelight Lounge (Treme)

Photo: Candlelight Lounge

This modest little cinder-block building is a real discovery out in the 'burbs. The bar serves beer and simple mixed drinks, and it's one of the few places in town you can buy a 'set up', which is a half-pint of liquor, can of soda, bowl of ice and a few plastic cups. Wednesdays feature the Treme Brass Band, an ensemble that performs acoustically. It’s a little ripper away from all the noise.

Fat Tuesday (Bourbon Street)

Let’s face it, New Orleans can often be the most hot and humid place in the US, so take the chill off with an iced Banana Banschee daiquiri at Fat Tuesday, an outpost of a New Orleans-inspired chain serving up a stack of frozen drinks in a counter-serve setting.

Scott Podmore

Scott Podmore is a travel and music writer, photographer, video producer and bestselling author who also owns and runs October Grey Media. When he’s not exploring the world and generating content for magazines and websites throughout the globe, he’s chilling down south (quite literally) in his hometown of Warrandyte in Victoria.