GoNOLA’s Guide to Bourbon Street

by Nikki Carter on January 24, 2013

in Cocktail Culture, Nightlife, Things To Do, Travel

By now, you’ve probably realized that New Orleans has quite a bit more to offer than Bourbon Street – however, you should also know that Bourbon itself has more to offer than the requisite balconies, beads, and booze. Here are my suggestions and tips for a fun night out in the French Quarter on Bourbon Street for all types of moods and groups!

Are you ….

A group of guys looking to cut loose for a friend’s bachelor party?

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In front of the Tropical Isle on Bourbon Street, home of such festive and potent drinks as the Hand Grenade.

Hit up one of the five Tropical Isle locations (435, 600, 610, 721, 727 Bourbon St.) and get everyone a hand grenade, the signature drink on Bourbon Street. Walk around and enjoy the music pouring out from every establishment. Visit Bourbon Cowboy at 241 Bourbon and watch people take their chances on the mechanical bull ride, and then go right next door to The Beach on Bourbon (227 Bourbon), where you can watch people ride the mechanical whale! End your night dancing at Bourbon Heat (711 Bourbon), which is rumored to be haunted. Be sure to try “the Heat” cocktail!

Hitting the town for a Girls’ Night Out?

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The courtyard with glorious fire fountain at Pat O’Brien’s.

Pat O Brien’s (624 Bourbon) is my favorite place to take my out-of-town girlfriends. The courtyard is very cool, and the service is always great. Order a Hurricane and keep the glass as a souvenir (be sure to turn it in on your way out for its cash value if you don’t want to keep it). Sing along at the piano bar at Pat O’s and warm up your vocal cords before seeking out the neon-pink sign of Cat’s Meow Karaoke Bar (701 Bourbon). One of my best nights on Bourbon was spent singing “Living on a Prayer” during a bachelorette party. If you loved “Magic Mike,” you’ll also want to pop in to Saints & Sinners (627 Bourbon) so you can tell everyone you had a drink at Channing Tatum’s N.O. bar (you might even spot him!).

A twosome looking for the perfect date night?

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Bourbon Street at night

Make a reservation for upscale dining at Galatoire’s (209 Bourbon) or Bourbon House (144 Bourbon). After dinner, be sure to watch some live, authentic jazz at one of the two spots on Bourbon: Maison Bourbon Jazz Club (641 Bourbon) or Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub (733 Bourbon). Check out the antique absinthe drips at Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House (240 Bourbon) and finally, end your night over drinks and intimate conversation at the completely candle-lit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon), the oldest structure housing a bar in the U.S. – and where the Lafitte Brothers once did “business.”

And no matter what group you’re in, you might want (or need) some late-night fare, so keep Clover Grill (900 Bourbon) in mind: great for burgers and breakfast, and you might recognize the exterior from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

Have a great time, and keep these tips in mind:
Shot girls or guys are persistent, and if they hand you a shot, you will be charged for it, so if you don’t want to pay for one, don’t take it!

Don’t fall for the guys who tell you, “I bet you I know where you got your shoes!” If you challenge them, they will say “On your feet!” and they will expect payment for their clever answer.

Street preachers and evangelicals are part of the scene, so don’t be alarmed if you see a group of them.

Common-sense rules apply here, so stay with the crowd and don’t wander on to unfamiliar side streets.

(All photos by Nikki Carter)

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