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Cocktail Culture

Drink Like a Local: New Orleans Neighborhood Bars, Part II

Rusty Nail
The Rusty Nail. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

In this second installment of Drink Like A Local, we continue our exploration of the best off-the-beaten-path places to get drinks in New Orleans. Taking a look at neighborhood bars in four more New Orleans areas, we give you the low down on hidden gems in Algiers Point, Uptown and Riverbend, the Freret Street Corridor and the Warehouse District. Take a break from the tourist hubs at these local favorites glowing with New Orleans charm.

Algiers Point

Although a part of New Orleans, historic Algiers Point is located on the West Bank and thus exudes the feeling of a close-knit, charming village. The neighborhood is worth the short ferry ride from downtown and architecture buffs will want to stroll past the well-preserved house fronts.

I have a soft spot for The Crown and Anchor, located at 200 Pelican Avenue in Algiers Point. For locals it’s our cheapest way of simulating a trip to Great Britain. A couple times a year, I like to pick up a friend or two and make the drive to the West Bank, simply to drink and chat in this authentic pub with its cozy proportions, British drinking memorabilia and refined, extensive draft selection. Like a real village pub, patrons range in age and the solo traveler need not feel conscious about pulling up a stool. Thursday nights the Crown and Anchor hosts a pub quiz, Fridays they tap casks from NOLA Brewery and otherwise, the dart board is yours to master. This New Orleans bar is an easy walk from the ferry.

For those looking for music, Algiers’ other neighborhood bar, The Old Point Bar located at 545 Patterson Street offers live music seven nights a week, authentic old school New Orleans architecture and a low-key, relaxed feel where even dogs are welcome to drink. The Old Point Bar offers darts and pool.

Uptown and Riverbend

Saint Joe’s located at 5535 Magazine Street occupies a narrow corner spot Uptown along a stretch of Magazine Street that has become quite upscale. However Saint Joe’s predates that time and has retained its bohemian spirit. With its tall ceilings, original bar, cracked plaster walls, and hanging crosses, Saint Joe’s evokes a particular combo of beautiful decay and gothic cool that many Big Easy visitors seek. In warmer weather, try one of Saint Joe’s exceptionally minty and well muddled mojitos (blueberry or regular) out on the back, Silk Road-themed patio. They also have a small locally favored draft selection.

The Bridge Lounge located at 1201 Magazine Street is a dog friendly corner bar in the Lower Garden District which still retains its corner store exterior. Inside the Bridge Lounge strikes a balance between hip, chic and laid back that reflects its surrounding professional demographic. Happy Hour specials are offered every day of the week with NOLA Brewery beers on tap.

With its pressed tin ceiling and original bar, the Maple Leaf Bar has character in spades. But make no mistake, the Maple Leaf, located at 8316 Oak Street, is a dive. A longtime venue for local music, this institution has played host to the Rebirth Brass Band every Tuesday night for over two decades. It’s also the spot where many drink while they wait to get a table at the perennially popular Jacques-Imo’s next door; but the amount of visitor traffic doesn’t detract from the fact that a diverse crowd of locals can be regularly found at the bar. Located at the end of revitalized Oak Street in the Rivebend section, the Maple Leaf is reachable via the St. Charles Streetcar. A full musical line up can be found on their website. To avoid crowds and covers, go before 8 p.m.

Freret Street Corridor

For a while, The Other Bar located at 5039 Freret Street was so low key that few people had heard of it and I’ll wager a guess that most locals know this recent establishment from having footed past it on their way to someplace else. But now the bar has a humble neighborhood following for those looking to avoid fancy schemes and scenes. Its petite size means that weekend nights can get crowded. The Other Bar offers comfy thrift store chairs, board games and most importantly, free Skee Ball. An inexpensive refuge for pre or post dinner refueling along popular Freret, or perhaps during afternoons, it’s the place to read Anna Karenina. Daily Happy Hour specials are offered from 4-8 p.m.

The Warehouse District

Because the Warehouse District is also home to the Convention Center and has almost no free-standing houses, the area may not feel as neighborhoody as other areas of the city. But the Warehouse District is home to a sizable, professionally-minded, local population who love the sophisticated urban feel and the walkability of their area.

For a laid back, slightly scruffy and fully local feel, head to The Rusty Nail, an off-the-beaten-path bar and music venue whose outside patio rests in the shadow of Interstate 10 at 1100 Constance Street. The Rusty Nail has an extensive Bourbon and Scotch menu with drink specials and half price bottles of wine during Happy Hour from 4-7 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

For a decidedly more upscale feel and mature clientele, try friendly, cozy and candlelit Tommy’s Wine Bar on 746 Tchoupitoulas Street, or sleek, contemporary Sainte Marie on 930 Poydras St.

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