Ole Miss football fans have been awaiting a Sugar Bowl return since long before Ed Orgeron famously promised us one 11 years ago. New Orleans, being barely an hour away from Louisiana's border with Mississippi, has always been a home to many Ole Miss fans and a frequent destination for others, whether it be for football games against Tulane in the Superdome, Mardi Gras, or just a well-deserved respite from our lives elsewhere. The city's laid-back lifestyle, culinary heritage, and booze laws that are lax to the point of being virtually nonexistent also serve to make it an attractive destination for revelers of any stripe, including SEC football fans. That the Sugar Bowl is historically tied to the SEC in a way that gives it a cultural significance in our conference almost takes a back seat to its host city's ability to show its visitors a damn good time.
More help planning your trip
More help planning your trip
To aid you in the pursuit of said damn good time, we've listed some of our favorite places to drink in the Crescent City. Given that New Orleans has an extensive bar and restaurant scene, this list is far from comprehensive. If there are places that you would like to recommend to your fellow Rebel revelers, let us know in the comments.
Lucy's is within easy walking distance of the Superdome, making it an ideal spot before or after the Sugar Bowl. It's so close, in fact, that the Saints coaching staff has been known to haunt the place with some regularity. It's cheap beer and tacos are always a welcome respite from some of the Warehouse District's more bougie establishments, and it's proximity to the Harrah's casino and all of the hotels nearby will surely make it a popular spot for Rebel fans.
Another spot in that area that Ole Miss fans are undeniably going to take over is Manning's, a sports bar owned by the Manning family. Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints memorabilia are on virtually every visible surface of the spot, and their patio is a great place to catch a game on a large projection screen, presuming the weather holds up.
Up St. Charles a bit is a 24-hour dive famous for it's cheese-covered french fries and a beer selection is that is actually rather impressive.
Even farther uptown is Snake and Jake's, a place whose ambiance is set by it's low ceilings and Christmas light-lit bar, and whose clientele is very much a "come as your are" bunch. It and Avenue Pub are both great options for a long night of cheap drinks with friends.
Dives are everywhere in the French Quarter, but the most celebrated is probably Molly's at the Market, an Irish Pub which is not too far from Cafe du Monde and just far enough away from Bourbon Street to avoid amateur drinkers. Molly's is famous for its iced Irish coffee, but also has a beer and booze selection you'd expect and a decent selection of pub grub if you find yourself wanting some late-night bites.
Being the birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans is up there in terms of live music venues per capita in the United States. Many of these venues are in the French Quarter and cater heavily to New Orleans' tourist crowd, which is fine -- tourists are free to like music too. But if you're looking to really catch some of the city's local flavor, pop out of the Quarter for a bit and take in some tunes with a more local crowd.
Tipitina's is probably the most celebrated spot outside of the Quarter, being a few miles up the river near the intersection of Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas. It's not a "bar" so much as it's a dedicated venue to live music, but it almost invariably has the best shows in town on any given night. Check their full calendar of events here, and buy your tickets now if you're thinking of attending their New Year's Eve celebrations.
It's even farther uptown and is a great spot to catch New Orleans brass bands before stumbling over to the Camelia Grill for a midnight snack.
The Marigny neighborhood
Heading down river and past the French Quarter will find you in the Marigny, which has some of the best music venues in the city. Three Muses and the Spotted Cat are within spitting distance of each other along the main drag of Frenchman Street in the Marigny, a strip that boasts an impressive assortment of bars and restaurants, many of which do feature live music. A quick tip on Three Muses is to get there before they open if you'd like a seat; the place fills up fast and they're liable to turn folks down at the door as early as 4:30 or 5 p.m.. Their food, beer selection, and local jazz artists do make the inconvenience entirely worthwhile though.
If boisterous dives or live tunes aren't what you're looking for in your trip to the Big Easy, then make a point to visit some of New Orleans' more famous cocktail bars.
The Sazerac -- a mixture of rye whiskey, bitters, sugar, and absinthe -- is the signature cocktail of New Orleans, so keep it authentic and snag one at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel.
If a bed-and-breakfast is more your speed, visit the Columns Hotel bar, which is as famous for its Bloody Mary as it is for its antebellum architecture.
Arnaud's French 75 is an old school lounge that offers classic cocktails and cigars, if you're one to partake in such things, and has a bar staff whose knowledge of the food, drink, and history of New Orleans is damn near encyclopedic.
If you're looking for great cocktails and want to get out of the French Quarter and CBD, take it uptown to Cure, a personal favorite of mine that boasts an impressive collection of spirits and plenty of room for a sizable group.
While not a cocktail bar per se, Bacchanal Wine in the Bywater has the laid back yet haute couture vibe you may be after. As the name suggests, they specialize in wines, and boast one of the more enjoyable outdoor seating areas in New Orleans.
Here's the deal: Bourbon Street is something you should try once if you've never been before. Its reputation of debauchery and raucousness is well-deserved, as its countless bars and strip clubs crank out cheap booze and cheaper thrills 24 hours a day, attracting clientele that's generally unable to behave any better than an over-served college sophomore. Speaking of underclassman undergraduates, that's mostly what you'll see on Bourbon Street, along with bewildered, unimaginative tourists who struggle to keep their hurricanes from sloshing out of their go cups and onto your shoes. It's crowded, it's filthy in the most literal sense of the word, it's loud, and the crowd can be generally all-around unpleasant.
It does, however, provide for excellent people watching and perfectly caters to our most basic, primal instincts. You'll be able to get very cheap beer and probably see people take their clothes in public off for no real reason. You might even find a spot to post up at, such as the Cat's Meow for karaoke or Tropical Isle for their famous hand grenades. You can go to Bourbon Street and have a damn good time. You can also avoid it altogether and still have an excellent time in New Orleans. There are plenty of places to drink in New Orleans outside of the French Quarter, let alone Bourbon Street. So go see it if you haven't already, but don't feel like you're missing out on anything if you choose not to.