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New Orleans nightlife

Whether you're in the mood for an isolated neighborhood beer joint, a glitzy hotel cocktail bar, or a Bourbon Street cover bar where supercharged slushies flow, let the imbiber beware. Bars and clubs in New Orleans don't have an official closing time, so the city's late-night scene tends to stretch on until the early morning hours. The lack of smoking laws means patrons can puff away inside, so you'll never have to part from your drink for a cigarette break. Nonsmokers are more likely to step outside for a breath of fresh air.

Jazz is part of the city's cultural fabric, and you're never too far from a horn line, a bluesy guitar riff, or a syncopated drumbeat. On any given day, tune into WWOZ Community Radio (90.7 FM) at the top of any odd-numbered hour, and you'll be amazed by the flurry of daily musical options: tourist-friendly gigs to accompany a jazz brunch, jam-band supergroups playing on bustling Frenchman's Street, funky brass bands packing venerated Uptown clubs. Regular gigs like Tuesday night's Rebirth Brass Band set at the Maple Leaf or Kermit Ruffin's standing Thursday night gig at Vaughan's have houses packed with spirited locals. One word of warning: The fact that there's no "last call" means that music venues tend to be notoriously loose when it comes to entertainment schedules. Many clubs announce that shows start at 10 pm, which local fans often translate into a more flexible "tenthirtyeleven"—which basically means that the evening's headliners will start their set around midnight. Afternoon naps are the constant friend of the New Orleans night owl.

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Carousel Bar, New Orleans

This ornate watering hole couldn't be more aptly named: Every chair rotates at a glacial pace around the circular carnival-themed bar, making exactly four...more

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Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Most locals don't spend a lot of time here, but just about every first-time visitor gets drawn into the neon-lit vortex of Bourbon Street. Whether you're...more

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Bar Tonique, New Orleans

Perched on the Rampart Street border between the French Quarter and Faubourg Treme neighborhoods, this one-room bar serves up an amazing range of classic and...more

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Art of the Afternoon Cocktail, New Orleans

New Orleans's reputation for colorful, high-octane libations—Hurricanes, Hand Grenades, Screaming Blue Orgasms—often overshadows one of the city's...more

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Arnaud's French 75, New Orleans

Despite being attached to a landmark Creole restaurant, Arnaud's French 75 somehow maintains its own vibe and identity, especially among traveling cocktail...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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