Arnaud’s French 75 (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
While there’s no denying the gritty appeal of a raucous dive bar (you can find one on practically every corner in New Orleans), sometimes you’re in the mood for a more sophisticated experience. Here are four of the Crescent City’s leading high-end drinking locales. Go ahead, strut your stuff with a martini in hand.
To enjoy a French Quarter bar with a sophisticated air, French 75 is the perfect destination. Located inside Arnaud’s restaurant, this local favorite is known for helping guests “rediscover the art of the New Orleans cocktail.” The decor takes you back to the bar’s humble beginnings with exquisitely detailed crown molding and antique light fixtures. Named one of the top 25 cocktail bars in the U.S. by GQ magazine, French 75 offers an extensive menu of “recipes from a bygone era,” plus martinis and beloved local cocktails, like the Sazerac or the bar’s namesake. Plus, you can watch these intricate drinks mixed up by bartenders dressed in pristine white suits and black bow ties.
Be sure you’re wearing your best when you walk into Ohm Lounge — this is an upscale spot that takes its dress code seriously. The chic bar serves a menu of premium sake (“Dreamy Clouds,” “Wandering Poet”), Asian beer (Yanjing, Thaiwan), and artisanal cocktails (Singapore Sling, Violet Smoke). Complementing the booze are tantalizing tapas like Vietnamese Hawker Beef and Agedashi Tofu, which take a modern twist on tried and true Asian ingredients and flavors. Sink into the cozy furniture imported from Japan and Singapore and ogle the authentic 350-year-old vases. With a Zen-like ambiance, Ohm Lounge masters the five-star dining meets trendy lounge vibe.
At Bombay Club, you can escape the French Quarter dive scene and drink like a high-class local. You’ll be seated in timeless leather chairs with a view of the courtyard and its quaint fountain as well as a bookcase-lined wall with shelves of hardbacks and elegant knickknacks. Here, you and your friends can enjoy a traditional, New Orleans style jazz set while sipping on classic New Orleans cocktails or an “on the stem” libation, like the club’s signature martini. To add a little sustenance to those cocktails, sample Chef Richard’s experiments with British-Cajun fusion. Scotch eggs with boudin and collard greens, anyone? Also noteworthy are the Mussels Sauce Piquant and Pickled Shrimp Wraps.