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  • Writer's pictureNaureen Chhipa

5 Classic Nola Cocktails to Try!

Updated: Jun 5

Are you visiting New Orleans for the first time? There are so many food and drink options that it can be overwhelming, but don't worry, we've got you covered! Here's a list of the top 5 simple classic NOLA cocktails to try. These are the cocktails we enjoyed the most and the best spots to have them at. Did you know that street drinking is legal here?

5 classic Nola cocktails to try. Interior of Napoleon Restaurant in Bourbon Street New Orleans.
Pimm's Cup Cocktails at Napoleon House

When I travel, I love immersing myself in the local nightlife and culinary scene. It's a way to understand the people and their way of life. New Orleans, with its unique blend of flavors, music, and lifestyle, taught me to slow down, enjoy the soothing yet erratic jazz tunes, and relish every bite of its never-ending delicious foods and cocktails.

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New Orleans, with its unique blend of flavors, music, and lifestyle, taught me to slow down, enjoy the soothing yet erratic jazz tunes, and relish every bite of its never-ending delicious foods and cocktails.

5 Classic Nola Cocktails to Try and Where to Find Them!

Table of Contents

Cane and Table

Cane and Table is famous for its rum-based cocktails and Old Havana vibes. It's a great bar to visit any time of the year! You can enjoy their hidden outdoor patio for brunch or hang out inside during happy hour for delicious bites, friendly staff, and an alluring ambiance. We highly recommend trying their Haitian Fried Chicken and taking advantage of their Happy Hour specials (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 5-7 pm) or their bottomless brunch for $45. This bar has a more local scene and is worth the walk from Bourbon Street! Plus, you'll find more than 5 classic Nola Cocktails to try here alone.

Haunting decor in New Orleans. Photo of an old marine man painting. New Orleans drinking bars.
Cane and Table

Bar Tonique

Bar Tonique reminded us so much of home (NYC). It has a rustic brick wall interior, a wide selection of handcrafted cocktails, and in-house-made ingredients that are perfectly combined. Despite being centrally located in the French Quarter, we saw few tourists. We recommend visiting for Happy Hour (weekdays from 12-5 pm) or as a late-night hangout, as this place is open until 2 am! They have a great happy hour selection, a drink of the day for $5, and a whiskey flight for whiskey lovers. We tried a few cocktails and loved all of them. If you're wondering what is the most popular drink in New Orleans or If you want to stick to trying classic Nola cocktails, we recommend ordering a Vieux Carre, a Sazerac, or a Vesper - famously known from James Bond; make sure to order it shaken, not stirred!


Imagine stepping into one of America's oldest bars, Lafitte's, which dates back to the early 1770s. With no electricity, the entire place is illuminated by the flickering flames of candles at night, creating an eerie and timeless atmosphere. I recommend visiting after dark to experience the bar's intriguing charm truly. Check their online calendar for special events, as some nights feature live piano music in a captivating candlelit setting. The ambiance is far from romantic; instead, it transports you to an era when pirates gathered to share eerie tales over drinks. Consider adding this unique spot to your must-visit list only if you feel brave enough. Some cocktails to try while visiting Lafitte's are the famous New Orleans Grenade and the infamous Hurricane drink-- and whatever you do, remember not to stir that drink!

Carousel Bar

Have cocktails inside a spinning, functioning carousel. Touristy? Sure! A must-do? Absolutely!! Where else can you feel like a kid and grown-up simultaneously!?! They make fantastic craft cocktails here. This bar is a great spot to try one of New Orleans's signature cocktails -- The Sazerac, handcrafted to perfection! Or try other top New Orleans drinks: Hand Grenade,Tropical Isle, Old Absinthe, Brandy Milk, Rye Whiskey,Gin Fizz, and Bloody Mary (to cure a hangover) come to mind. Heads up, this bar is always crowded, so if you're waiting for a seat, keep walking straight, and you'll find a second bar that's part of the hotel crowd-free! This far-off nook bar is the perfect spot to wait while a chair in this carousel opens up. Carousel Bar gave us major New York Coney Island vibes; it's a great spot to stop for a drink and cocktail before heading to dinner or a live music performance.

Old repurposed carousel turned into a bar. Instagrammable places in New Orleans.
Carousel Bar New Orleans

Napoleon House

When visiting New Orleans, try a Pimm's Cup cocktail! Although this is more of a British drink than a classic New Orleans one, we found it the perfect choice for a hot summer day while exploring Nola's streets. We loved this light and refreshing cocktail; it's the ideal pick-me-up for a scorching summer day. We initially ordered one but ended up having three! So, our top cocktail recommendation is the Pimm's Cup from Napoleon House, which is more of a restaurant than a bar. Aside from the Pimm's Cup, this is a great place to sample a homemade Muffuletta. The Muffuletta is an Italian sandwich typically grabbed from a deli or grocery store and served cold. The Muffuletta sandwich was made by an Italian immigrant in 1906 and initially served at the French Market in New Orleans. Years later, Napoleon House altered the recipe and introduced it as a hot dish to enhance the flavors. You have to experience the Pimm's Cup and Muffuletta here; It's the best quick bite in the city!

Popular Drinks on Bourbon Street

Remember when I mentioned that street drinking is legal in New Orleans? Another great way to escape the southern heat is by getting a to-go frozen drink along Bourbon Street. Here are our top two frozen drinks that have become our signature staples and go-to's when exploring the Big Easy!

The Frozen Irish coffee from Erin Rose was my morning pick-me-up, New Orleans style! It was the perfect drink to start my day and one of my favorite easy-to-drink Nola drinks.

The Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle was too sweet for me. In my opinion, It tasted like a Jolly Rancher, but Fernando loved it and couldn't stop drinking them! The best part? You can keep the cup and refill it at a discount price through 5 licensed nightclub bars in the French Quarter! We still have the cup at home :) It makes a great souvenir! The Hand Grenade is also one of the most famous drinks for street drinking in New Orleans.

New Orleans Drinks NON ALCOHOLIC

Taking a break from consuming alcoholic beverages in a city like New Orleans can present a unique set of challenges. However, if you are in this situation, don't worry, my friend! During our trip, we discovered some fantastic spots offering delicious mocktails, perfect for those moments when we wanted to take a break from alcohol. Here are our favorite places for non-alcoholic drinks in New Orleans: Bar Tonique, Cane & Table, and Commander's Palace (we had lunch here and .25 cent Martinis. Crazy, I know! But this restaurant also offers a great selection of mocktails. Read our 4-day Nola Itinerary here.)

New Orleans Cocktail Recipes to Try at Home

Pimm's Cup

The Pimm's Cup is a refreshing summer cocktail that is easy to make at home!

1 oz. Gin

0.5 oz. Pimm's No.1

1 oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Top off with Ginger Ale

Cucumber slice, for garnish

Combine gin, Pimm's No. 1, and lemon juice in a tall glass over ice. Top with ginger ale and garnish with cucumber.

Final Word About Our Favorite Nightlife Bars in New Orleans

We had a great time exploring the lively nightlife in New Orleans. We stayed for four nights, the perfect time for our trip. If you're wondering what the best time to visit New Orleans is to experience its fantastic festivals, I recommend checking out my blog, "Four Days in New Orleans," where we cover where to stay, when to visit, and what to do.

Are you looking for a food tour in New Orleans? Click here now for our favorite guided food tour in Nola or perhaps you'll enjoy a haunted pub crawl more! Click here to view the latest prices.

If you have more than four days, we recommend renting a car and exploring the rest of Louisiana. Click here for the best car rental offers we found in New Orleans.

If you go to New Orleans:

General info:

Bars on our list:

Cane & Table

Bar Tonique


Carousel Bar

Napoleon House

Erin Rose

Tropical Isle

Thanks for reading! Have you been to New Orleans? We want to hear from you -- Tell us what your favorite bars were and we'll make sure to visit next time!

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