New Orleans Cocktail Drinking Tour
This post is a self-guided tour of famous New Orleans cocktail drinks, where to find them as well as a review and comparison of the various guided cocktail (and related) tours available to you in the Big Easy. Is there any more appropriate place to treat yourself to a cocktail tour than New Orleans? Besides the easy walk between fabulous lounges, taverns, jazz clubs and simple bars, drinking and New Orleans have become synonymous. We recommend you linger at each of these suggested stops, but if you have places to be, you can ask for a ‘go cup’ and bring your drink with you!
This New Orleans Cocktail Tour will take you past effervescent art galleries, funky street musicians, architecture spanning three centuries, and countless sights and sounds you’ve never seen nor heard. And we’ll invite you into the very places where illustrious people had a round or two – from notorious pirates to American heroes, from classic writers to modern movie stars. Ready? What’ll it be?
Self-Guided Cocktail Tour of the French Quarter
Stop A – Sazerac Bar, Roosevelt Hotel, 130 Roosevelt Way (see video below)
Start in the lobby of the magnificent Roosevelt Hotel, formerly the Fairmont. This building was out of commision for years after Katrina, and has been restored to a Jazz Age elegance. The Sazerac Bar sits commodiously off the lobby. The bar itself is a rich African walnut, the murals are by Paul Ninas. The space sprawls with spacious chairs and couches. Even the barstools are comfy.
This is the place to try the Sazerac cocktail, which contains recently-legalized absinthe, and our own Peychaud’s bitters. Bitters are a concoction of herbs originally distilled for medicinal purposes, such as curing stomach ailments. However, Antoine and other forward-thinking mixologists created cocktails with them. Bitters are a growing industry now, but up until a few years ago, the only two bitters one could find in the drinking world was Angostura, from Venezuela, and our own Peychaud’s.
At the beginning of the 1900’s, New Orleans was renowned for her “fizzes,” drinks with bubbly water. The flamboyant Governor Huey P. Long used to come in here in the 40’s to order his favorite, a Ramos Gin Fizz. Henry C. Ramos came up with the recipe in 1888. It combines gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water, and soda water.
Sazerac – $15. Ramos Gin Fizz $16.
Open daily at 11 am. Website.
Head out to Canal Street. Walk toward the river three streets to Royal Street. Go left a block and a half.
Stop B – Carousel Bar, Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal Street
Antonio Monteleone opened his hotel in 1880, it has survived the Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression, and Hurricane Katrina. It royally stands as one of the few family-owned elegant hotels in the country.
The hotel and the Carousel bar have been mentioned in many great writings – Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo and Orpheus Descending, Rebecca Wells’ Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Richard Ford’s A Piece of My Heart, Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, Eudora Welty’s A Curtain of Green, Erle Stanley Gardner’s Owls Don’t Blink, Ernest Hemingway’s Night Before Battle among many others. Williams, Hemingway and Truman Capote made a point of staying here. Indeed, Capote claimed to have been born here – oops not really, he was born at Touro Hospital uptown.
Today the Hotel Monteleone is recognized as an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. The only other two hotels on that list are The Plaza and Algonquin Hotels in New York.
Vogue Magazine recently named the Carousel Bar one of it’s Top Twenty Bars in the World. As it’s name would imply, the bar revolves. Hand-carved and painted carousel animals adorn the high barstools that circumnavigate you around the stationary bar. In the evenings they offer free live jazz, and on Sundays it’s a special place to watch the Saints play.
“Vieux Carré” is how locals refer to the French Quarter. It’s French for “Old Square” and is the name of the signature cocktail of the Carousel Bar. Made with rye whiskey, brandy, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and both Angostura and Peychaud’s Bitters. The drink was invented in 1938 here by bartender Walter Berferon.
Vieux Carré $12.
Open daily at 11 am. Website.
Head out of the lobby, turn right and walk down Royal Street three corners to Saint Louis. Turn right one block to Chartres Street. Don’t overthink it. In New Orleans we say “Charters” Street, much to the chagrin of French purists. When you come to Chartres and Saint Louis, you will see the fabled Napoleon House.
Stop C – Napoleon House, 500 Chartres Street
Built in 1815 by New Orleans’ Mayor Nicholas Girod who made his money in shipping. The building features a cupola, or “widow’s walk” on the roof so the mayor could literally see his ship come in on the river a couple of blocks away. There is a persistent legend that when the city found out Napoleon had been cast into his second exile on the island of St Helena, Girod was at the opera. He is supposed to have stood up and announced. “If we can free the Emperor, I will give him my new house!” No doubt to the cheers of the very pro-French audience. It’s doubtful there is anything to the legend, but there is a plaque, among many, at the front door that reads “Refuge offered Napoleon, 1821.”
In any event, the building was all but abandoned in 1914, when Italian immigrant Joe Impastato bought it and opened a bar that served food. “Uncle Joe” loved the Napoleon legend and propagated it. Today the old, unpainted walls are decorated with Napoleania and family pictures.
Uncle Joe also loved opera and he would bring out the gramophone with his favorites. They still play classical music here to this day. The restaurant/bar operated as a speakeasy during Depression and stayed in the Impastato family, four generations, for over a hundred years. Today it is part of the magnificent collection of restaurants run by local restaurateur Ralph Brennan.
Sit in the quaint courtyard or in one of the two urbane salons where you can have light food – they have an excellent Muffaletta – and, pourquoi pas? a cocktail. The must try Napoleon House offering is the Pimm’s Cup, made with Pimm’s gin liqueur, lemonade, splash of lemon-lime soda, and a cucumber garnish. Perfect for our hot weather.
Quarter Muffaletta $5.25. Pimm’s Cup $7.
Open daily at 11. Website.
Leaving the Napoleon House, with your back to the door, head back up Saint Louis a block and a half.
Stop D – Antoine’s, 713 Saint Louis Street
New Orleans has always been known for its cuisine, and Antoine’s has always been New Orleans’ flagship restaurant. For over 175 years, its 14 dining rooms have hosted kings, presidents, movie stars, sports heroes, Mardi Gras krewes, a Pope, and a multitude of visitors keen to experience the classier side of New Orleans. The first proprietor, Antoine Alciatore opened doors in 1840 and since, the restaurant has contributed many iconic dishes to the New Orleans food canon – Oysters Rockefeller, Soufflé Potatoes, and Escargots a la Bourguignonne are the best known.
A few years back, they converted one of their dining rooms into the Hermes Bar, a fabulous way to enjoy the elegance and comfort of Antoine’s. If you would like a glass of wine, you’re in the right place. We can’t dig cellars in New Orleans, so Antoine’s created an above ground alley of wine storage – 25,000 bottles.
The actual Antoine had a nephew, Jules, that invented Café Brulot Diabolique – “Devilishly Burned Coffee.” A rich mix of strong coffee with cinnamon, cloves, brandy, lemon peel and sugar served flaming in an ornate bowl.
Oysters Rockefeller $15. Soufflé Potatoes $8. Café Brulot Diabolique $10 a person.
Open daily 11 am. Website.
Leave Antoine’s, head to the left to Royal Street. Take a left on Royal go down a block to Saint Peter Street. Take a left half a block.
Stop E – Pat O’Brien’s, 718 Saint Peter Street
Pat O’Brien was a real guy. He, like a bunch of New Orleanians, ran a speakeasy, and when Prohibition finally was lifted, he went legit. Over the years, Pat O’s has become a bucket list destination, and the biggest reason for that is the Hurricane.
Made with fruit punch and three types of rum, the Hurricane is served in its distinctive 26 ounce glass. The glass resembles the globe of an old fashioned hurricane lamp. If you are with a group, or extremely thirsty, they offer a magnum hurricane glass that holds 384 ounces.
Pat O’Brien’s is actually three bars. Upon entering the famous carriageway you will see the lively Main Bar on the left. The servers wear distinctive green jackets.
Across the way, you’ll find the dueling Piano Bar. Two copper pianos face each other and the two artists play requests as guests loudly sing along.
The verdant, gorgeous courtyard allows an escape from the frenetic French Quarter. Sitting at the center of the courtyard is the original flaming fountain, an oddity where water and flames shoot up into the night sky.
Open Noon Mon thru Thurs, 10 am Fridays thru Sundays.
Piano Bar entertainment starts at 6 pm Mon thru Thurs, 2 pm Fri thru Sun. Website.
Across the street from Pat O’Brien’s is Johnny White’s, a well-known divey bar, once the favorite of John Goodman. Johnny White’s is famous for having stayed open all through the period the city was shut down during Katrina. Since there was no electricity, they offered drinks without ice.
Leaving Pat O’s, wobble to the right to Royal Street, take a left a half block to Pirate’s Alley behind the Cathedral. Take a right halfway down the alley.
Stop F – Pirate’s Alley Cafe, In Pirate’s Alley next to the Cathedral
Where else but New Orleans would you find a bar within arm’s length of a city hall and a church? Pirate’s Alley Cafe sits next to the Cabildo and the Saint Louis Cathedral in the very alley where pirates sold booty on Sundays after Mass. Today adventurous cocktailers come here to try absinthe.
Perhaps no single beverage has a more checkered history, or more mythology, than absinthe. Invented in Switzerland in the 18th Century, the drink contains wormwood, a reputed psychoactive botanical. In the early days, absinthe was used as a medicinal, but by the time the famous brooding French artists and writers claimed to meet “The Green Fairy,” it gained the notorious reputation that remains today. It had been outlawed in the United States from 1912 to 2007.
Pirate’s Alley Cafe serves four types of absinthe in the traditional way with lovely Beaux Artes urns that drip ice water over a sugar cube. Just the presentation alone is worth the price, but to watch the green swirls as the ice water churns into a milky potion arouses images of Toulouse Lautrec and Ernest Hemingway.
Pirate’s Alley also offers a range of artisanal rums.
Absinthe prices range from $10 to $20.
Open daily 10 am. Website.
Lurch toward Jackson Square, take a left one and a half blocks to Madison Alley. Take a right to Decatur Street.
Stop G – Tujague’s, 823 Decatur Street
The second oldest restaurant in the city, Tujague’s just celebrated its 160th birthday. When it opened it was known as Madame Begue’s Restaurant. She was a German immigrant who served lunch earlier in the day for the dock workers, who came to work before dawn so they would be hungry by 10 am. Many locals claim this was the invention of brunch.
The bar at Tujague’s is a magnificent cypress glory. The bartenders wear snazzy clothes invoking Prohibition times. Tujague’s is family owned, and has staunchly resisted the urge to “frozen daiquiri-up” the ambience. And there are many local regulars that brave the waves of tourists around the French Market across the street to have a nip.
There is no drink specialty per se, but the actual experience of ordering a drink is the hook. Just tell the bartender how much booze you like, what flavors you like, and he or she will create something you probably didn’t know existed.
Open Mon – Fri 11 am, Sat – Sun 10 am. Website.
Stumble out of Tujagues. Go left two and a half blocks to Saint Philip Street. Go left three streets to Bourbon Street.
Stop H – Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, 941 Bourbon Street
Literally, the last bar on Bourbon Street, it’s actually pretty quiet around Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. Sometimes. The ancient building still has exposed beams, slate roof, and stone forge, though it’s a gas flame these days. And yes, the legendary Jean Lafitte actually owned the building as a front for his unsavory occupations.
Not much is known about Lafitte as he strove to keep his life details secret. He did come to New Orleans with his brother Pierre in 1802, and he ran lucrative pirating operations out of his enclave downriver on the now-gone island of Barataria. The Baratarians were tolerated in New Orleans because they were French, and because they supplied a city in the middle of nowhere with a champagne taste with things we desired. Like champagne. And silk, candied figs, and whatever else they would loot off of non-French, non-American ships.
The Blacksmith Shop today makes a great stop as it’s away from the din of Bourbon Street and on the way to the music of Frenchmen Street. In the intimate darkness of the back is a piano bar where extremely gifted musicians play requests for tips. The side courtyard is a perfect perch to people watch. In the evenings the popular ghost tours come through, and the mule buggies pull up to get curbside drink service.
The bartenders are amazingly fast and friendly, and service literally dozens of guests in no time. And theirs is one of the most generous pours in the Quarter. There was a bit of a local howl when, a couple years ago they added a daiquiri machine and a jukebox, but the Voodoo Daiquiri – imagine a grape popsicle smooshed into a cup of rum and everclear – is a tempting hot weather companion.
Voodoo Daiquiri $7.
Open every day at 10 am. Website.
There is so much more to see and do in New Orleans, and we offer tours and self-guided tours, as well as our blog with helpful information.
There are 5 different companies offering guided cocktail tours in the city, each of which seamlessly blends together NOLA’s unique history and drinking culture with delicious cocktails. Unlike general drinking tours, these specialize in cocktails and cater to a more mature audience. Gray Line and New Orleans Secrets Tours are between 2-3 hours and cost less than $30 per person. Drinks are not included, but guests are welcomed to purchase some if they wish. Dr. Gumbo, NOLA Culinary History Tours, and Drink & Learn, on the other hand, range in price between $50-$60, but include 4 different cocktails in the cost. As each of the guided cocktail tours are highly rated on TripAdvisor, your decision should largely be based on availability and whether or not you prefer to try a standard tasting menu or to buy drinks along the way.
The Original Cocktail Tour by Gray Line
Gray Line’s New Orleans Original Cocktail Walking Tour introduces visitors to the city’s unique dining and drinking culture. Guests are brought to 3 or 4 of the best bars in the French Quarter, where they learn about the “famous spirits” of the area and the “characters who brought them to life.” Drinks are not included in the price of the tour, but can be purchased by guests along the way if they so choose. Group sizes tend to be small, making for a more intimate experience.
- Tour Length: 2.5 hours
- Cost: $29 per person (drinks not included)
- Daily @4 pm (additional offerings in high season)
- More information and to book.
This tour receives stellar reviews, averaging 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor, with many guests praising the knowledgeable and charismatic guides who lead it. Reviewers also say that the tour was “exceptional” and “a fun first way to see the city.” Though some say they wish that there were more stops on the tour 4 is usually the most bars that a cocktail tour will visit in the span of 2.5 hours for health and safety reasons. Moreover, complaints about this are few and far between, as most guests find the tour length and the number of stops to be ideal.
New Orleans Culinary and Cocktail Walking Tour
This is a very popular walking tour that combines two New Orleans staples: southern cuisine and cocktails! The tour begins at the New Orleans School of Cooking in the French Quarter where you will learn how to make delicious local dishes from a professional chef. You’ll then take to the streets of the French Quarter to explore some of the most famous bars in the city and learn more about NOLA’s liquid history. Drinks are not included in the price of the tour, but guests are welcome to purchase some along the way.
- Tour Length: 4 hour combination cooking class and French Quarter cocktail tour
- Cost: From $86
- Daily (except Sundays) @ 2 pm
- More information and to book online.
This combo tour receives excellent reviews, averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, with some even referring to the experience as the highlight of their trip. Guests seem especially impressed with Chef Kevin who offers excellent cooking tips for making classic southern dishes such as gumbo and pecan pralines. The only negative reviews come from visitors who missed the cocktail tour due to a miscommunication about the meeting place or poor weather. So just be sure you know exactly when and where the second half of the tour begins and you’ll have a wonderful time!
Dr. Gumbo offers two cocktail tours of New Orleans. The first is their 3 hour Cocktail History Tour, which details the city’s liquid history and includes 4 different cocktails from award-winning mixologists. The second is their Combo Cocktail & Food Tour, which spans 4 hours and allows guests to sample 10 different dishes and 4 full-sized cocktails. Guests will learn about the various restaurant family dynasties that exist in NOLA, as well as famous local recipes and the history behind each drink and dish.
Cocktail History Tour:
- 3 hours
- Daily @ 5pm, except Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Cocktail History Tour: $65 (includes tour and 4 cocktails)
Combo Cocktail & Food Tour:
- 4 hours
- Every Tuesday and Thursday @ 1pm.
- Combo Cocktail & Food Tour: $120 (includes tour, 10 tastings, and 4 cocktails)
Doctor Gumbo Tours maintains excellent reviews, especially for their Cocktail History and Combo Cocktail & Food Tours, averaging 5 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Guests rave that there are “knowledge bombs galore” on both tours, thanks to the highly qualified and passionate guides. Additionally, guests also praise the cocktails themselves, which many describe as “delicious” and “unique.”
NOLA Culinary History Tours
New Orleans Cocktail Tour is another highly regarded liquid history tour offered by NOLA Culinary History Tours. Guests are immersed in the city’s unique drinking cocktail culture, visiting several famous bars and learning the history behind some classic cocktails. Four drinks and 1 food sample are included in the cost of the tour.
- Tour Length: 2 hours
- Daily @ 4pm
- Cost: $60 per person (including 4 drinks and 1 food sample)
Like all of their other tours, the New Orleans Cocktail Tour comes highly rated. Guests refer to it as a “fun”, “interesting”, and “delightful” experience that serves as a perfect introduction into NOLA’s unique drinking , averaging a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Negative reviews are very rare and usually the consequence of having a personal preference over some liquors over others.
New Orleans Secrets Tours
In addition to their several other tours, New Orleans Secrets Tours also offers a 3 hour French Quarter History and Cocktail Tour. Advertised as a “true New Orleans history and cocktail experience” rather than a “drunken pub crawl,” this tour brings guests to some of the most famous bars in the city. Drinks are not included in the price of the tour, but guests can purchase them as they wish.
- Tour Length: 3 hours
- Cost: $29 per person (drinks not included)
As one of their most popular tours, the French Quarter History and Cocktail Tour has an excellent reputation and maintains a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Several guests comment that they loved the bars featured on the tour so much that they later went back on their own time. Others refer to the tour as “fantastic” and “the most amazing cocktail tour,” thanks to the delicious drinks and the guides’ ability to weave history into each stop.
Drink and Learn
Drink and Learn offers 2 different drinking tours: (1) The New Orleans Experience Tour, which details the cities rich history while guests “sip and savor the very drinks and ingredients that mark the story’s chapters”, and (2) The Cocktail Tour, which brings guests to some of the most lavish bars in the city and also shares the areas fascinating local history. There are 4 drinks included in the cost of each tour, 2 of which (St. Charles Hotel Punch and Sazerac) are featured on both tours.
- The New Orleans Experience: 2 hours
- The Cocktail Tour: 2 hours
- The New Orleans Experience: $50
- The Cocktail Tour: $50
Though a smaller company that some of the others included on this list, Drink and Learn still comes very highly rated, averaging 5 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, with many guests praising the tour for being “awesome” and “fun” and the guides for being “knowledgeable and engaging.” Some even write that the tour “should not be missed” and that it is “outstanding.” In fact, as of March 2017, there are no reviews on TripAdvisor that fall below a 4 star rating.
There are 2 companies that specialize in general drinking tours of New Orleans. The first is Nawlins Theatrical Tours, which offers a Drink History Tour through the French Quarter. Unlike most of the cocktail tours, this one welcomes those under 21, as the experience does not require guests to enter any of the bars. Pub Crawl New Orleans also offers club-nights every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, which brings guests to some of the best bars in the city. This tour is especially targeted toward a younger demographic, and is less of a tour and more of a fun way to meet new people. Drinks are not included in the price of either of these tours, but guests are given the opportunity to buy some along the way.
Drunk History Tour – Nawlins Theatrical Tours
The Drunk History Tour, offered by Nawlins Theatrical Tours is a fun and informative tour that shares the history of some of the best bars in the French Quarter. The tour passes by dozens of bars, allowing guests to refill their drink to their liking along the way. Drinks are not included in the price of the tour. As a family-friendly tour, children are welcome. Some locations do not allow kids inside, in which case the tour guide will wait by the door with the children while the adults refill the cups.
- Tour Length: 2 hours
- Cost: $20 per person (not including drinks)
- Daily @2 pm and 7 pm.
- More info and to book.
An extremely fun and popular tour, the Drunk History Tour receives excellent reviews from those who describe it as “hilarious, informative, and engaging.” The guides are especially highly regarded for their charismatic personalities and ability to accommodate. Thus far, the only negative review comes from a guest who had their tour cancelled at the last moment. However, this appears to be a one-off experience as no other reviewers complain of the same happening to them.
Pub Crawl New Orleans
Pub Crawl New Orleans hosts a weekly club-nights every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday starting at 7:45pm. Guests enjoy exclusive free entry, no lines, amazing drink specials, free pizza, and free mechanical bull rides. This is less of a tour and more of a way to check out New Orleans hottest night clubs without having to worry about being charged an entrance fee or waiting in long lines. Drinks are not included in the price, but many discounts are applied. Targeted more towards a younger crowd.
- Length of Tour: Starts at 7:45pm
- Cost: $15 – $20
- More information or to book.
This tour is also highly rated, with some guests referring to it as “there favorite night out in NOLA” and a “must do”. Additionally, visitors praise the tour for helping them make new friends and mingle with the rest of the group. Though some felt that this pub crawl could have been easily done on one’s own, most guests were happy to pay the $15 as the tour offered them a great way to make new friends.
Haunted pub crawls combine traditional ghost tours with drinking! With each of these companies, guests are led to several different historic bars where they are told spooky stories of ghosts, pirates, and famous debauchery. None of these tours are especially scare, but they all do a good job of informing guests of New Orleans’ darker history.
Bloody Mary’s Ghost Tour – Haunted Pub Crawl
In addition to their many other traditional haunted tours, Bloody Mary’s Ghost Tour also offers a Haunted Pub Crawl. The biggest difference between this tour and all the others is that it is primarily a history tour with an added drinking component. Cocktails are not included in the price, though guests are encouraged to purchase what they like at each bar that is visited. Guests are also invited to bring their cameras to scope out floating orbs or other paranormal entities.
- Length of Tour: 2-3 hours
- Cost: $30 per person (drinks not included)
- @4:30 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
This tour comes highly rated, with most guests praising the experience and the knowledgeable guides. Though not many reported seeing any ghosts during the tour, all reported having a fun time despite the lack of paranormal activity. Guests who rated this tour as 5 stars often wrote that they especially liked the historic aspect of the tour and praised the guides for being so informative. The negative reviews do not appear to have much in common, and therefore are not indicative of a consistent problem.
Ghost City Tours Pub Crawl
Ghost City offers a New Orleans Pub Crawl, which visits the most haunted bars in the French Quarter. Guests are treated to some of the finest drinks and fascinating ghost stories during their stroll around the city. Though drinks are not included in the price of the tour, all guests must be 21+ and have valid ID. Unlike the other tours, this one operates 7 nights a week!
- Length of Tour: 2 hours
- Cost: $24.95 per person (drinks not included)
- Nightly @8 pm
This company boasts 100% positive reviews on TripAdvisor, which is proof of the quality of their tours. Many praised the selection of bars that were featured on the tour, as each was unique and often a bit off the tourist trail. Guests also report that the guide allowed plenty of time for everyone to enjoy each pub and get a drink or two after learning a bit about the history of each place. Though not a ‘scary’ ghost tour, per se, this is a great way to learn more about NOLA’s darker history and cocktails.
Dark Crescent Tours – Plunder & Booty Tour
Dark Crescent Tours’ Plunder & Booty Tour is a popular haunted pub crawl that blends all kinds of strange yet true tales with a drinking tour of the city. Advertised as “a bit of horror, a bit of mystery, and of course, a bit of drinking,” the tour informs visitors about New Orleans’ darker history. Guests visit 4 bars and get 4 full drinks. Guides add to the experience by dressing for the part, guaranteeing that the walk is all the more entertaining. The price of this tour also includes tips for the bartenders.
- Length of Tour: 2-3 hours
- Cost: $50 per person (includes 4 drinks at 4 different bars)
- For private booking only.
Negative reviews for this company are few and far between. The Plunder and Booty Tour is especially highly rated, averaging 4.5 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor, with many praising the excellent guides and adequate drink sizes. Additionally, some even write that this tour was one of the best they had ever been on that the guides were excellent and the drink sizes were great. A lot of guests also commented on the small group sizes, making the experience feel more personal.
In the earliest days of the city, barrels of brandy were as important to the French and Spanish colonists as their saws and hammers. By the time Napoleon sold the territory to the Americans 1803, this port city could offer bourbon from upriver, rum from the islands, brandy, absinthe and wine from the old country. In a few years boatloads of German immigrants brought an important demographic to the area and, you guessed it, beer. By the end of the Nineteenth Century, New Orleans was already gaining a reputation for fine dining, naughty jazz, and of course, a good cocktail.
In the next century, Prohibition seemed to be more of a suggestion than an actual law, as there were so many speakeasies and so much open selling of alcohol that a Federal investigator marveled at how easy it was to find them. The rise of Bourbon Street in the 1950s as sort of a Southern Las Vegas brought a smokey, burlesque element to the city; though these days the suits and gowns of trendy types have given way to daiquiri shops and less-elegant strip clubs, but there are a couple of places worth a look. Now, New Orleans finds herself in a post-Katrina renaissance, and offers every sort of cocktail experience from the most decadent of high-end venues to the most decadent, in the opposite sense, of dive bars.
Some folks will tell you that the actual word ‘cocktail’ started here: The story is that in the 1830’s Antoine Peychaud, a local apothecary, offered a drink of cognac, absinthe, water, sugar and his patented bitters in an egg cup called a ‘coquetier’ in French. And the story continues that the word got ‘English-ized’ into ‘cocktail.’ As much as we’d like to claim credit, the word cocktail as a mixed drink, appears in many books and newspapers up to a century earlier. Still, his cocktail is still around, the classic Sazerac, which will make an appearance on our tour.
Click here for more on the history of New Orleans cocktails.
There are several websites that regularly offer discounts to pub crawls and cocktail tours in New Orleans. Groupon, Living Social, and GoldStar each promote various drinking tours on their NOLA page, so be sure to check out their websites before visiting to see if there are any great deals you can score!
Though pub crawls are not featured on as part of any discount passes, it is still worth looking through our New Orleans on a Budget page, which details several ways to save during your time in the city!