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Best Drinks In New Orleans

I'm looking for recommendations on the best mixed drinks in New Orleans and where to get them. In and near the French Quarter, restaurants or nightclubs.

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  1. Napolean House for a Pimms Cup and the Swizzle Stick Bar.

    1. satsuma mojito or mayhaw lemonade @ cochon

      rum punch @ swizzle stick

      blueberry mojito @ St. Joe's (uptown)

      margarita @ superior grill (say what you want about the food...but you know this is a great margarita)

      excuse me while I go get a drink~

      1. One of the most celebrated bartenders in the city is Chris McMillian, who holds forth at the Library Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. He's THE man to go to for a definitive Mint Julep, as well as superbly executed versions of the great New Orleans classics, the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Sazerac. (Mr. McMillian is also a treasure-trove of bar and drink lore, and a wonderful raconteur.)

        Ritz Carton Hotel
        921 Canal St. (Btw. Dauphine & Burgundy)
        504-524-1331 (Phone ahead to confirm that Mr. McMillian is on duty.)
        Library Lounge open 5-10p Mon-Sat.

        5 Replies
        1. re: SBrooksB

          how much does a mint julep here run, made by Mr. McMillian?

          or how much is a ramos ginn fizz?

          heara a lot about the joint.

          1. re: SBrooksB

            I'm not sure what the hours actually are, but the Library Lounge is definitely not open 5-10p Mon-Sat. I am starting to suspect that their opening hours at completely at the whim of someone, perhaps Mr. McMillian himself. The website says 5-10 T-S, but I've been there on Tuesdays when it was not open. No matter, you can always get a fantastic rum punch or julep (not in silver, more's the pity) at the other bar "On Trois" right near the restaurant "Melange" which I always want to call "Melange on Trois".

            1. re: uptownlibrarian

              The Ritz-Carlton wants you to call it Melange on Trois as well. It's a joke they slipped past corporate.

              1. re: uptownlibrarian

                I had the same question and found out that McMillian is working every Wednesday through Saturday (6 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.) during the summer, then he'll go back to Tuesday through Saturday when September rolls around. I "borrowed" a copy of the menu, since it is filled with information that only McMillian could impart. Here are some prices: Mojito- $8; Sidecar- $6; Tom Collins- $6; Brandy Milk Punch- $6; French 75- $6; Mint Julep- $10; Sazerac- $8; Pimm's Cup- $6 and Ramos Gin Fizz- $8. Why do people think the Ritz is so expensive?? Parking is free if you buy a drink or meal. Rooms are 1/2 off now since it is summer. I love that place!

              2. re: SBrooksB

                Fascinating . . . we used to live next door to the McMillans (we now live in Phoenix). Chris introduced us to the mojito and taught us how to make it. I had no idea he is so celebrated!

              3. A sazerac at the bar at Tujagues
                The sangria at Taqueros
                Dare I offer up the original Hurricane at Pat Os?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                  Brandy milk punch at Mr. B's, martinis at Rib Room and Commander's, champagne cocktail Windsor Court ....

                  1. re: bronwen

                    About 5 years ago, I spent a few hours waiting out a July deluge at the bar in the Monteleone drinking brandy milk punches. To the best of my recollection, they were wonderful!

                2. If it is one thing New Orleans is famous for, it is cocktails. In fact, New Orleans is likely the originator of the cocktail as it is known today, with the concoction of the Sazerac. Though most tourists know of the icky green hand grenade from Tropical Isle and Hurricane from Pat O's, you'd do yourself a favor by trying a Sazerac. Beware, it's got a distinct flavor derived from a mixture of Herbsaint (licorice flavor) and rye whisky. If Chris McMillian is at the Library Lounge at the Ritz, have him make you one. The other place you can get a good one is at Napoleon House.

                  While at Napoleon House, as mentioned, try a Pimm's Cup.

                  If you are a bloody mary fan, there will be no shortage. I like the ones at The Columns Hotel, Avenue Pub (on St. Charles Ave), Pat O's and Molly's at the Market, though you could just do your own tastings around the French Quarter.

                  The Brandy Milk punch is the Sunday morning alternative to the bloody mary. If you haven't had one, try it.

                  A couple bars that you should miss are:

                  The Columns Hotel on St. Charles Ave. Popular locals bar, housed in a small boutique hotel, built in the 1800's. The woodwork and ambiance are one in a million. They're not serious about good cocktails, but any drink you have while sitting in the bar or on the front porch will be acceptable.

                  Napoleon House. One of the coolest bars in the city. Very historic and old school.

                  Carousel Bar at the Monteleone. Ever had a drink at a rotating bar? The drinks are expensive, but put this on your list to sit at the bar for at least one drink.

                  Pat O'Brien's. When you walk in the front door, try the piano bar on the right, or the local's bar on the left. You can get all of the same drinks, but they are cheaper on the locals side. Enjoy a cold Abita Amber, bloody mary or any one of their specialty fruity drinks.

                  Columns Hotel
                  3811 Saint Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115

                  Napoleon House Bar & Cafe
                  500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                  Avenue Pub
                  1732 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

                  Monteleone Hotel
                  214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: UptownKevin

                    I am sure you meant to say bars you shouldn't miss. I second the Columns Hotel and for anyone who is a fan of Louis Malle films, this is where Pretty Baby was filmed, with Brooke Shields, a mere babe.

                    1. re: UptownKevin

                      You are correct Tonto. That is a list of bars you SHOULD NOT miss!


                      1. re: UptownKevin

                        anyone knows how much the drinks at at the ritz cartlon, with mr. mcmillian holding court.

                        1. re: kevin

                          You're probably looking at about $7 or $8 for a Sazerac. Maybe up to $10-$12 for another specialty drink, like a mint julep. I would aim for the higher end, since it is the Ritz. Just figure ten bucks a cocktail and you'll be golden. The Ritz is not the place to be getting your drink on. Have your crafted cocktails there, then venture to Bourbon for 3-for-1 to continue...


                          1. re: UptownKevin

                            good so at least it's not around 15 or 16 for a mint julep.

                            pimm's cup at napoleon house for all of five bucks is a steal in comparison.

                      2. re: UptownKevin

                        So Kevin, as a former bar manager at Columns, why aren't they more serious about the drinks? Too much volume?

                        Even if the craft isn't high, it's still my favorite place to sip a drink.

                        1. re: UptownKevin

                          I agree that a Sazerac is THE drink, but I dunno . . . the Sazerac at Arnaud's French 75 Bar is so far the best I've had -- MUCH better than the Ritz, the Fairmont's Sazerac Bar or the Napoleon House.

                          (IMHO, of course.)

                        2. The sazerac is the quintessential new orleans cocktail. I had a fantastic one at the bar at Herbsaint restaurant...701 St Charles Ave. I think it is technically in the business district but walkable from french quarter. The food is tremendous as well.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: crazylash

                            Does anyone have any idea if/when the Fairmont will re-open (with the famed Sazerac bar - what a great place!)

                            1. re: bronwen

                              That beautiful Sazerac bar used to be one of my favorites.

                              The Waldorf-Astoria has purchased the Fairmont, and in 2008, they're undertaking a massive, $100,000,000 restoration of the hotel. It's great news.

                          2. Milk punch at Brennan's

                            1. You used to be able to get a frozen milk punch at the Brennan's restaurant that is on Bourbon street. That? Is a great sunny afternoon drink.

                              1. One of my favorite things I did on my first visit to NOLA (in which I fell totally and completely in love with the city) was to do a cocktails tour. It sounds cheesy but was really fun! (Greyline bus tour near Jax Brewery is the leaving point). Pimm's cup at Muriel's was a particular standout, my BF enjoyed absinthe at the absinthe house, and thought the hurricane at Pat O's was good as well (but I had low expectations because I had read so many naysayers).

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: ZestyZ

                                  I have the food part of the New Orleans equation solved[after 15 or so hours scouring the NOLA board] for my pending visit but now I need an assist on libations.Here is the list I culled from the board:

                                  Carousel Lounge

                                  Old Absinthe House

                                  Napoleon House

                                  Columns Hotel

                                  Library Lounge at the Ritz

                                  St Joes

                                  The Saint

                                  The Alibi

                                  Where is Chris McMillan currently working?Is he still the Alpha bartender of the scene or are his heels being nipped at by some upstarts?Am I missing any out of the way joints that do a great job for the locals?Thanks y'all

                                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                    528 (at Harrah's Hotel)
                                    Bombay Club
                                    Jin Jean's Lounge
                                    Lafitte's Blacksmith
                                    Maple Leaf
                                    Rivershack Tavern
                                    Swizzle Stick Bar

                                    for many of the above, check their music listings.
                                    some of the best drinks are being made at Restaurant Iris right now.
                                    if Clancy's is on your list, they make a killer frozen Brandy Alexander.
                                    in the Lakeview area, Lago for margaritas and mojitos.
                                    Bloody Mary's at Cafe Atchafalaya if having brunch/lunch there.

                                    if wine is your thing, Orleans Grapevine, Tommy's Wine Bar, Bacchanal or grab a bite at St. James Cheese Co and get your wine next door at the Wine Seller.


                                    1. re: edible complex


                                      Chris McMillian is no longer at the Library Lounge, and I've heard no word as to his whereabouts. The Library Lounge has been converted into a private, members-only club.

                                      Chris Hannah at Arnaud's 75 Bar (next door to Arnaud's restaurant) is a great bartender -- maybe the Quarter's best. Chris makes my favorite Sazerac in the city!

                                      If you order an absinthe drip at any bar in New Orleans, tell your bartender not to light the sugar cube. It's a cheesy stunt with no historical precedent, but several bars (including, sadly, The Absinthe House) flame their sugar in order to pull in the frat-boys.

                                      1. re: SBrooksB

                                        Chris McMillian is now at the Renaissance Pere Marquette.

                                        1. re: SBrooksB

                                          Chris Hannah is awesome, and makes the second best Sazerac in New Orleans . . . mentored by both Chris McMillan AND Bobby, whose last name I've forgotten, but used to work Saturday nights ONLY at Arnaud's French 75 pre-K. Bobby's was the best Sazerac I've ever had . . . but Chris H is a VERY close second!

                                  2. Go on a cocktail tour...grayline do one...

                                    Also try the Daiquiris at The Gumbo Shop...they do a cantelope one that is the best I have had in the city...all fresh

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Chartresboy

                                      I'm happy to see this thread revived.

                                      I've heard as well, as emcmil wrote, that Chris McMillan is now at the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel. Have any locals seen him at his new place? I've been hearing great things about Chris Hannah's talents (thanks as well to SBrooksB), and am anxious to sit at his bar.

                                      Sorry in advance for all the following questions, but I am interested in the state of absinthe in New Orleans:

                                      Are any bars dripping any esoteric absinthes, or just the common Lucid and Kubler? I'd be interested in Ted Breaux's Jade PF 1901 or Nouvelle-Orléans. Any sightings?

                                      Is dripping happening at either the Swizzle Stick, or Arnaud's 75, and will they make a Sazerac with absinthe now, rather than Herbsaint? And finally, will the Old Absinthe House drip without the flamed sugar, or even plain?


                                      1. re: GumboK

                                        As you know, US governmental bureaucracy, in all its Byzantine stupidity, prevents many fine absinthes available in Europe from being sold here. You also know that it's a cinch to order fine European absinthes online and have them shipped to the US -- indeed, most absinthe fans have been ordering from Europe for years. (Visit The Wormwood Society for a list of recommended absinthes and reputable vendors.)

                                        No bar in New Orleans can legally offer you an absinthe that hasn't gotten the US stamp of approval. But do ask at the bar, because you may get lucky. If you don't ask, you'll be offered Kübler, Lucid, and possibly St. George.

                                        The Old Absinthe House, Pravda!, and the Pirate's Alley Cafe were all serving absinthe the last time I visited (fall of '07). By now, I'm sure that every reputable bar serves it, including Arnaud's 75 and Swizzle Stick.

                                        Things are moving forward on the absinthe front, with at least four new absinthes scheduled for US release before the end of 2008. Currently, Ted Breaux has no plans to release his Jade line in the US.

                                        RE: Flaming sugar cubes: IX-NAY the flames when placing your order. Pravda doesn't flame their cubes, but the Old Absinthe House will if you don't speak up. You can also say "no sugar" if, like, me, you prefer your absinthe without.

                                        When ordering a Sazerac, request absinthe in place of Herbsaint.

                                        Good luck!

                                        1. re: SBrooksB

                                          THIS JUST IN: It looks like the first of the Jades — Nouvelle-Orléans — is due to land on our shores this fall, along with Claude-Alain Bugnon's wonderful Clandestine!


                                        2. re: GumboK

                                          I haven't seen McMillan at the hotel/restaurant, but he was mixing drinks at the Mila table at the World Cocktail Day event at Cafe Adelade last month. His cocktail was the Mojo Rising, with lemon vodka, lime juice, simple syrup and mint.

                                      2. I think my new favorite drink is either the pineapple/cilantro margarita or perhaps the watermelon margarita at Gato Negro, across from the French Market. Food's good too.

                                        1. Definitely not an old standard, but I'm a fan of the guava caipirinha at Marigny Brasserie. My girlfriend likes their Pimm's Cup also, but I don't recall tasting one there myself.

                                          1. the "French 75"
                                            It's cognac, champage and lemon juice - get the bartender at Luke to make it for you, it's fabulous!, more of a champagne type drink than cognac, but served in a snifter

                                            1. Gambit Magazine's "Top 50 Bars":


                                              Pravda was, until recently, the only bar in the Quarter that served absinthe properly. Now, they appear to have sold out to the Bourbon Street crowd. If you don't want your sugar cubes flamed, speak up.

                                              For a brief video on the correct way to prepare absinthe, visit the Wormwood Society:


                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: SBrooksB

                                                Wow, what is up with Absinthe purists? A very weird breed indeed and unbearable to sit next to in a bar. To complain that somebodies preferred way to take a drink has no "historical precedent" is sort of funny. A a careful readin of New Orleans history will show you that at one point, there was no historical precedent for air conditioning at New Orleans bars, serving cocktails, or even serving Absinthe itself, but people decided they liked it and the world went along fine.

                                                Seriously, why must every bar that serves absinthe have a resident know it all? For the correct way to prepare a drink, choose the way you like and enjoy. No reason to get disturbed by how other people take their drinks, Absinthe is not a religion, and I doubt you should be so emotionally invested in a kind of alcohol you have not been drinking any longer than anyone else. It's not healthy.

                                                Now back to anonymity and reading about food like I prefer.

                                                1. re: boozedrinker

                                                  Indeed, "choose the way you like and enjoy." When you're paying fifteen to twenty bucks for a glass of absinthe, no one should be lecturing you on how to drink it.

                                                  Absinthe "purists" aren't a such a weird breed. We care about good absinthe, and feel that caramelized sugar doesn't do the drink any favors.

                                                  But that's just our opinion. To each his own. Cheers!

                                              2. It's not really that close to the French Quarter but Phillip's on Maple Street Uptown makes the best martini in town hands down, but The Bridgelounge on Magazine near the I10 is by far the best Mojito in town. They melt down mint into their simple syrup a real nice touch.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: The Bird

                                                  Reviving the thread.Particularly interested in Frenchman street bartenders.Who's the best of the lot?

                                                2. Another vote for the Sazerac made by Chris Hannah at Arnaud's French 75 Bar.
                                                  Chris is not only a great bartender but a really nice guy.
                                                  Just don't mention Eli Manning in any conversation that you have with Chris

                                                  1. Marvin at the Monteleone makes a nice Vieux Carre

                                                    1. Chris McMillian is bartending at the Bar UnCommon which is the lobby bar at the Pere Marquette Hotel on Common St. It is a very chic looking bar sort of in the style of a Whiskey Blue bar. We had our company Christmas party there in 2008 and it was awesome. Check out Chris and/or this secluded gem especially if you're looking to NOT be seen. Great hideaway.