New Orleans chefs, restaurant owners and bartenders share why they think their city is the best place for drinking.

By Justine Sterling
Updated May 23, 2017
New Orleans Restaurants: Cane & Table
Credit: Photo © Ken Kochey

There are many reasons to visit New Orleans: the food, the history, the music—and of course the ghosts. But for me, the main draw has always been the drinking. The standard night out is a continuous bar crawl—one where you're never without a drink, even on the streets. Here, New Orleans chefs, restaurant owners and bartenders share why they think their city is the best place for drinking.

“When it comes to drinks, New Orleans has it all. As far as cocktails go, so many famous and lasting recipes were created here—the Sazerac, the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Hurricane. But just as the rich culture of New Orleans is so diverse, so are our drinks. We have everything from the best wine lists in the region and top craft cocktail bars to frozen daiquiris and hurricanes in go-cups.”—Emeril Lagasse, Emeril’s

“New Orleans is the best city for drinking because our culture of well-made cocktails has been revived and elevated in the last fifteen years. There are so many places to get a good cocktail that it is hard to go wrong.”—Ti Martin, Commander’s Palace

“Drinking in New Orleans is refreshingly above-board and civilized. You can walk down the street with a cocktail, take a bottle of wine to the playground, take your dishwashers out for cobblers or take your lawyer for beers and shots. Leaving New Orleans feels so foreign when you're the only one who feels a bottle of wine is the appropriate selection for a business lunch and your children are the only ones who can operate a bottle opener properly.”—Michael Doyle, Maurepas Foods

“The great thing about drinking in New Orleans is its place socially and culturally, from drinking cold beers at Mardi Gras parades and crawfish boils, to grand cocktail receptions, to classy, classic, trendy or dive bars, long boozy lunches, and of course being able to drink anywhere and anytime.”—Donald Link, Cochon

“One of my favorite past times of living in New Orleans is casually walking the streets of the French Quarter or heading to a Saints game with a cocktail in a to-go cup. On a pretty day with nothing planned, I’ve found myself really experiencing New Orleans at its finest.”—Alon Shaya, Domenica

“Our French heritage dictates that Louisianans enjoy a sip of wine and homemade cordials. Our entire culture revolves around revelry. Whether we are blessing the fleet, tossing beads at Mardi Gras or having dinner with friends, cocktails, beer and wine flow freely. If you have any doubt about the importance of having a sip of your favorite alcoholic beverage, just remember, in the Crescent City drinking in the streets is legal!”—John Folse, Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant

“Where else are you lucky enough to enjoy being surrounded by music, friendly fun people and the best food and drink in the country? You can’t visit this city and feel lonely. It’s part of our DNA to make you feel at home, treat you like one of us and teach you why it’s important to think about where you dine or unwind. There are certainly bigger and more exotic places to visit in the country, but nowhere is more fun.”—Lu Brow, Café Adelaide