If you’ve only got 12 hours to do it up, you better make ’em count.
The paradox of choice in New Orleans is real. Even if you narrow your plans down to one neighborhood, there are bars and clubs on practically every corner — and though there isn’t exactly a wrong way to go about it, we’ve got some ideas about how to reduce the inevitable FOMO you’ll feel for not being able to grab a drink at every joint. Check out our must-do list below, but beware: You’ll need to stick it out all night long to accomplish it all.
6PM: Monsoons to go
Okay, so technically this borders the Marigny, but that’s exactly why it’s the perfect place to start your night.
Take full advantage of NOLA’s generous open container laws by starting your night with a Monsoon at Port of Call. It’s at least 20 ounces of liquor-filled concoction, so if that’s too aggressive for you, the Windjammer is a smaller-yet-equally delicious concoction you can sink your teeth into. Now, we fully acknowledge this is an aggressive way to start an evening, regardless, so we highly suggest pairing it with a big, juicy mushroom cheeseburger — Port of Call boasts it has the best burgers in the whole city, so may as well line your stomach before you venture into the night. Once you’ve gotten your massive pirate juice to-go, head on over to Frenchman Street.
7:30PM: Survey the scene
Asking someone to commit to one spot on Frenchman street is like asking someone to marry their very first Tinder date: It’s simply ridiculous. Frenchman is a paradox of choice, really, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t first carefully peruse the full strip before settling on a bar to camp out at for a few hours. If you didn’t take us up on our advice to scarf down a Port of Call burger, you could always get a quick bite at Dat Dog while you game out your night, and take in the sounds of any of the brass bands performing on the corners. We cannot reiterate enough that food is an essential part of any night out in New Orleans. Eat. It will only help you.
8:30PM: Get artsy
Before you dive in to dancing, drinking and lots and lots of jazz, take a walk through the Art Garden, located right next to the Spotted Cat. There are dozens of local vendors selling all sorts of wares, like jewelry, clothing and of course, art. One time, a woman selling body glitter let us try on a bit, to enhance our makeup with a sparkly touch. If you do head to the art market with spending in mind, make sure you’ve got a bag big enough to keep it safe for the rest of your evening.
9:45PM: Jazz hands
Depending on your tastes, there are a few different spots we’d argue are worth holing up in for at least a few hours. The number one spot on our list? The Spotted Cat. They have live music every night of the week, and it’s best to roll up just before 10, or even a little earlier, to make sure you can grab a spot just before the last band starts — bonus points if you come ready to dance, we’ve been pulled on to the floor by some fast-footed strangers once or twice. You can check out the performance calendar here, if you really want to, but trust us, there’s no bad music at Spotted Cat, like, ever. If Spotted Cat is just too hoppin’ to even get in, Cafe Negril, Blue Nile or d.b.a. Are solid back-up plans.
12:30AM: Turn it up
Once you’ve had your fill of Spotted Cat, head on over to The Maison. If you’re lucky, you might even get challenged to a dance battle. Oh yeah, the wig-snatching bar fight from “Girls Trip” was all in The Maison. And if that isn’t enough to sway you on the joint, maybe the signature cocktails will.
2AM: The perfect nightcap
If you still have it in you, wander on over to Mimi’s in the Marigny — a proper dive bar that hosts live music every night (like most of the locales in the Marigny) on their second level, but also has a spacious and well-stocked bar that will help you wind down your night. Whatever your poison, the eclectic staff at Mimi’s will make it happen with their “Trust Me” cocktails, which, at 2AM when your brain just ain’t working anymore, is the best way to order a drink. Pair that with some much-needed late night tapas (they are slingin’ food until 4AM on weekends, bless) and you are primed for the best sleep of your life as soon as you make it home.