Courtesy of Michele de Notaristefani/

New Orleans Bars with Cozy Fireplaces

04:33 November 24, 2014
By: Emily Hingle

It’s cold outside, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying our city’s nightlife this winter. The fires will be roaring in these bars so that you can imbibe and unwind with your friends. Many of the bar hearths are located in the heart of the town, the French Quarter, because it’s the oldest part of the city. And some of these bars have a strong connection to the infamous privateer and smuggler Jean Lafitte, who operated in the French Quarter before moving to Barataria Bay and then becoming an unlikely hero by helping General Andrew Jackson win the Battle of New Orleans. Grab a cold one and warm up by the fire!

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
941 Bourbon St.
This antiquated watering hole located on the far, quiet end of Bourbon Street is not just old-fashioned because of its two-sided fireplace, which is used throughout the winter. There aren’t many electrical lights in this bar at all. The shop was built in the 1700s, and it’s lit mostly by candlelight. You can often see famed pianist Mike Hood perform as part of the romantic atmosphere.

Café Lafitte in Exile
901 Bourbon St.
Not too far away from Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is another bar with Lafitte’s name. Café Lafitte in Exile has a sinister-looking flame constantly burning in a black cage near the doorway, surrounded by seating. Don’t fear, however, for the bar hosts one of the nicest local crowds you could hope to find in the Quarter. Although it is known as the oldest operating gay bar in America, all are welcome to enjoy drinks, weekly events like karaoke and the balcony. This bar never closes. 

Old Absinthe House
240 Bourbon St.
 On the other side of Bourbon Street, in a busier section, is a round bar with a large fireplace farther from the street that is lit on cold evenings. The building is at least 200 years old, and the Old Absinthe House claims that Jean Lafitte met with Andrew Jackson in the building to plan the attack on the British.

Backspace Bar
139 Chartres St.
Writers go with New Orleans like bitters go with a Sazerac cocktail. So many bars here can make a list of the famous authors who have spent some time there and present it like a trophy. A newer Quarter bar hopes to honor that tradition with a literary theme and an inviting fireplace right in the middle of the room that warms up the whole bar. Specialty cocktails include the Ernest Hemingway–inspired Death in the Afternoon, Truman Capote’s favorite Screw-driver, and the William Faulkner–motivated Mint Julep.

Bar Tonique
820 N. Rampart St.
Cocktails began as a cure; alcohol and herbs mixed together were used for medicinal purposes as tonics. Bar Tonique believes that alcohol can be helpful and social; this large bar is usually packed with patrons there for the great daily specials on craft cocktails ($5 Bacon Bloody Mary on Saturdays), but there are still some cozy spots for privacy. The fireplace is on the side of the bar away from the door, so the heat emanates from the middle of the room.

Hermes Bar at Antoine’s
725 St. Louis St.
The French Quarter's oldest restaurant has converted one of its dining rooms into a bar open to the street, with live music pouring out softly and a gorgeous fireplace along the wall. They have fantastic happy hour deals and 25 cent cocktails with your lunch.

The Irish House
1432 St. Charles Ave.
The Irish House has a homey feel to it, and they built a big fireplace in their dining room and put a large communal couch right in front of it. One can quietly enjoy a book there with a nice pint or join in the traditional Irish music session held on Mondays or the monthly Sea Shanty Sing-alongs in front of the hearth. The Irish House also has free Wi-Fi if you want to surf while you enjoy the roaring flames.

The Victorian Lounge at The Columns Hotel
3811 St. Charles Ave.
This award-winning bar located in the stately Columns Hotel invites guests and non-guests to enjoy a drink along the bar, or by the beautiful fireplace on the other side of the mahogany-laden room. Happy Hour is every day from 5-7 pm featuring, in part, $4 house wine and champagne. One can truly feel the grand antiquity of the nearly 150-year-old home that has been honored with a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

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