There are only a few places in America where you can order a drink any time of day or night: Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and here in New Orleans. But New Orleans is perhaps unique in that 24-hour service isn’t limited to casinos and overpriced tourist traps. Plenty of neighborhood bars stay open around the clock, or at least as long as there are customers looking to drink.
At any hour of the day, there are plenty of places to grab a beer or cocktail, with or without food. But here, with absolutely no claim to scientific accuracy, are our suggestions of a drinking establishment for every hour of the day. Of course, we don’t advocate that anyone go on a 24-hour bar crawl. But if someone were to attempt to visit part—or even all—of this list in a day, we’ve tried to keep the majority of these bars within no more than a walk or short Uber ride away from each other.
5 p.m.: Catering to students, staff, and even patients from the nearby hospitals, Handsome Willy’s Bar and Cafe (218 S. Robertson St.) on the edge of the Central Business District delivers weeknight Happy Hour specials and a surprisingly wide assortment of food options. Frequent DJ nights start early enough to reach the just-after-work crowd.
6 p.m.: A classic beer bar, Junction (3021 St. Claude Ave.) has dozens of craft brews from around the country on tap, alongside the Frozen Irish Coffee made famous by Erin Rose and Molly’s in the Market, with which it shares ownership. If you’re hungry, burgers—with creative toppings from green chilis to pimento cheese—are a good bet.
7 p.m.: Even at prime time, Mimi’s in the Marigny (2601 Royal St.) stays mellow, offering reasonably priced cocktails in a cozy downstairs barroom and a slightly more refined upstairs lounge. Most everything from the tapas menu is delicious—and, unlike some other small plate selections, ample enough to put together a meal without going broke.
8 p.m.: And just across from Mimi’s sits Big Daddy’s (2513 Royal St.), a no-frills dive catering to a cross-section of longtime Marigny and Bywater residents, hipster newcomers, and everyone who’s left Mimi’s only to realize that they still feel like having a drink.
9 p.m.: Heading into the Bywater, you’ll come across Markey’s Bar (640 Louisa St.), a regularly lively establishment with inexpensive beverages—including some made with the bar’s custom-made ginger beer—and the usual assortment of bar food, like tasty fried pickles, served into the night. There’s bar shuffleboard if you feel like playing, sports on TV, and an outdoor patio if you want to get some air or a smoke.
10 p.m.: You can’t argue that J&J’s Sports Lounge (800 France St.) isn’t actually a sports bar—they have multiple TVs, a Saints schedule on the wall, and, sometimes, you’ll even see people watching a game. But you’re just as likely to see Bywater residents sketching, reading, or just shooting the breeze at all hours, while enjoying the bar’s generously poured cocktails and a selection of craft and big name beers served so cheaply, you’ll think you misread the menu.
11 p.m.: Heading over to the rapidly gentrifying corner of the Marigny, in sight of the new Rampart Street streetcar, is Kajun’s Pub (2256 St. Claude Ave.), a 24-hour establishment offering karaoke as late as the bartenders can stand it. If you don’t feel like singing or listening to bachelorettes, Airbnb tourists, and punk kids on their way home from nearby music venues trying their hand at their favorite pop songs, a surprisingly cozy patio provides some respite.
12 a.m.: The Three-Legged Dog (400 Burgundy St.) is one of a handful of just-off-Bourbon Street bars ideal for meeting up with friends who work in the Quarter or your visitors from out of town who finally agree that there’s more to life than the Bourbon Cowboy and the Cat’s Meow. The Dog offers inexpensive drinks, a pet-friendly atmosphere as the name suggests, and late-night food options including frequent shrimp and crawfish boils that typically start between 11 p.m. and midnight.
1 a.m.: When all the swanky hotel lounges around Lee Circle have closed up for the night, there’s still Circle Bar (1032 St. Charles Ave.), offering $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon, cheap cocktails and craft beer, and live music late into the night. This hour often isn’t too late to catch a show at the bar, which delivers great sound along with an almost comically small amount of standing room in front of the stage. A small rear patio also serves as a sanctuary for smokers who don’t want to be gawked at by tourists on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar.
2 a.m.: Heading further upriver, you’ll come to The Saint (961 St. Mary St.), where young and hip people go to drink, dance, see, and be seen on weekend evenings. The bar has all the trappings you might expect to find in Brooklyn or Austin—wood paneling on the walls and a photo booth in the corner, a cramped but good-humored dance floor, and a spacious covered patio—but whimsical daiquiri flavors and a sprinkling of Catholic iconography make it clear that you’re still in Louisiana.
3 a.m.: It’s hard to make a list of New Orleans late-night haunts without including The Boot (1039 Broadway St.), but we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that anyone old enough to drink without a fake ID might feel over-the-hill at this bar, steps from Tulane and Loyola Universities. The Boot offers pizza, wings, and other pub grub late into the evening, along with a complex batch of shot and cocktail specials.
4 a.m.: If the name Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge (7612 Oak St.) sounds intriguing or simply brings back memories of surreal late nights gone by, it’s probably worth swinging by this university-area dive one early morning or another. A mix of Tulane students, neighborhood misfits, assorted insomniacs, and the occasional tourist mingle—or, just as likely, sit alone with their beverages—at this ramshackle bar lit primarily by Christmas lights.
5 a.m.: Not to be confused with the Brother’s chain of gas station convenience stores and their delicious fried chicken, Brother’s III (4520 Magazine St.) is a perfectly respectful place to grab a drink on the way to a show at Tipitina’s and a perfectly acceptable place to visit in the wee, small hours of the morning. Almost like an old-school diner with tunes at every table, the bar has two jukeboxes—one in the front and one in the back—each offering a different, under-appreciated assortment of classic country tunes.
6 a.m: Ms. Mae’s—The Club (4336 Magazine St.), as this 24-hour establishment is technically called, has a retro facade that’s inviting any time of day and a service-industry-centric crowd that lingers well into the night and, often, past dawn. Ms. Mae’s offers inexplicably cheap beers and well liquors, served in a cavernous interior where it’s easy to lose track of the time, along with a patio ideal for smokers and people-watchers alike.
7 a.m.: Even as lower Decatur Street slowly gentrifies, The Abbey (1123 Decatur St.) offers reasonably priced beer and liquor to French Quarter oddballs and service industry workers in search of a nightcap. Even if you’ve never before listened to The Clash’s “The Magnificent 7” at 7 a.m., you may still appreciate the bar’s punk rock-intensive jukebox.
8 a.m.: It’s not really a tiki bar in any traditional sense, but Aunt Tiki’s (1207 Decatur St.) still offers cheap drinks, a decent jukebox, and an anything-goes atmosphere where you’re far more likely to see Adult Swim on the barroom televisions than ESPN. Couches and a shotgun-style series of back rooms offer some privacy and relief from the early morning sun, as well as a share of surprises—like a vending machine typically well-stocked with animal crackers.
9 a.m.: Only steps from the previous two entries, Checkpoint Charlie’s (501 Esplanade Ave.) serves drinks and bar food staples 24/7 while delivering a surprising assortment of things to do. The balcony stocked with video poker machines and a pool table, an assortment of pinball machines, a jukebox and live music well into the night (though not at 9 a.m.), and even an in-house laundromat can make this bar on the edge of the French Quarter a difficult place to leave. Early morning visitors take note: they do serve coffee, with or without alcoholic enhancement.
10 a.m.: As the brunching hour inexorably draws near, Deja Vu (400 Dauphine St.) is there. Not to be confused with the nearby Bourbon Street strip club by the same name, Deja Vu is a New Orleans version of the classic diner—offering everything from burgers to omelets to seafood gumbo around the clock—to a mix of tourists, service industry folk, and anyone else you can imagine. Cheap Bloody Marys, hurricanes, liquor, and beer are also available any time of day or night.
11 a.m.: Continuing in the vein of 24-hour dining, Buffa’s Bar and Restaurant (1001 Esplanade Ave.) is a classic New Orleans bar offering egg-centric breakfasts from the early morning into the afternoon, along with burgers and more-than-decent renditions of local favorites like jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, and red beans and rice. Live music is also a frequent find in Buffa’s dining room, including weekend jazz brunches.
12 p.m.: If you find yourself near the Canal Street cemeteries at noon, you have plenty of worse choices than visiting the (entirely landlocked) Mid-City Yacht Club (440 S. Patrick St.). Along with a good craft beer selection, burgers and other bar food, and the usual assortment of televised sports and free Wi-Fi, the Yacht Club offers a spacious, dog-friendly rear patio perfect for day drinking.
1 p.m.: With outdoor tables and chairs on the increasingly bustling Banks Street and a good assortment of reasonably priced beers and cocktails, Banks Street Bar (4401 Banks St.) is a good and mellow day destination in the heart of Mid-City. If you’re feeling hungry, head next door to Clesi’s, which offers a takeout window connected directly to the bar delivering fried catfish, their addictive jambalaya cheese fries, and seasonal crawfish boils.
2 p.m.: If you’re a fan of football—whether you take that to mean the Saints, soccer, or rugby—you can find a crowd watching the game at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub (3701 Banks Street). Finn’s draws a neighborhood crowd from the Mid-City area and sports fans from across the city. Pub food—think burgers and fish and chips—is also available.
3 p.m.: Just off the beaten path in Mid-City lies Pal’s Lounge (949 N. Rendon St.), offering eclectic cocktails to an eclectic assortment of people. Air hockey tables offer a good group diversion, and pop-up meal offerings and cozy tables for two make it a not-implausible date spot, especially with a mid-afternoon stroll to nearby Bayou St. John in mind.
4 p.m.: In a corner of the city relatively short on restaurants and bars, The Seahorse Saloon (1648 Gentilly Blvd.) is a welcome find essentially across from the Fair Grounds, home to horse racing and Jazz Fest. Burgers, billiards, and beer-and-a-shot specials cater to visitors and neighborhood regulars alike, with a friendly atmosphere in the late afternoon and early evening.
5 p.m.: Offering seafood staples like soft-shell crab, overstuffed po-boys, and fried catfish, along with specialties like veal cutlets, Redfish Pontchartrain, and 16-ounce ribeyes, Jack Dempsey's (738 Poland Ave.) is a good choice for an early dinner, a late lunch, or to wind up a day of afternoon drinking. The full bar offers a good selection of draft and bottled beers, as well as house wines.