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Travel & Nightlife

12 New Orleans Watering Holes


Wet your whistle at one, or all, of these New Orleans nightspots.

1. Cafe LaFitte In Exile: Established in the 1930s, Cafe LaFitte hold the distinction of being the Big Easy's oldest continuously running gay bar, and remains a fan favorite over 70 years later, especially because of its unpretentious crowd and cheap, strong drinks. The $3 bloody mary is exceedingly popular for sipping on quiet Saturday nights on the balcony.

2. Rawhide 2010: You guessed it: this French Quarter nightspot is aimed at the leather and denim set, but all boys and girls are welcomed with open arms. It's definitely best to hit it up later in the evening, when things really get going.

3. Good Friends Bar: Another French Quarter destination, this watering hole lives up to its name, and the upstairs balcony, Queen's Head Pub, is especially warm, both in terms of crowd and setting, complete with wallpaper, antique molding and salon-like atmosphere. Pool tables, slot machines and shuffleboard are also on hand for an evening of fun, games and, yes, making new chums.

4. Bourbon Pub and Parade/OZ: New Orleans's Bourbon Street is a non-stop party, and these two clubs, Bourbon Pub and Parade and Oz, revel in it. Similar in clientele and techno-flavored mood, these bars are where Bacchus would go if he were gay and visiting the Big Easy. With four floors between them, it's easy to spend an entire night, even more, trying to take it all in.

5. Napoleon's Itch: A relaxed gay bar that's just as popular with straight people, this French Quarter institution also two floors to explore as you wet your whistle and get a feel for the city's vibe, among other things.

6. Mimi's in the Marigny: Live music is always on the menu at this tapas bar (signage seen above), and so too are attractive, fun-loving gays
dancing upstairs. There's really not much more that needs to be said: Mimi's is a good time. We guarantee.


7. Bar Uncommon: More upscale and modern than many of the places listed so far, Uncommon (pictured above) takes its cocktails seriously. The gin-n-blue -- gin, St. Germain, grapefruit juice, fresh blueberry garnish -- and the ginger press --whisky, mint syrup, ginger beer, mint sprig -- are among the most popular bevvies at this spot in the business district's Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel.

8. Friendly Lounge: Another hot spot where the emphasis is on amiability, Friendly Lounge in Faubourg Marigny is just a great for pre-dancing drinks as it is for late-night shenanigans. There's absolutely no judgement here: just good music, good people and very friendly bartenders known to treat patrons to free peanut butter and jelly flavored shots.

9. Big Daddy's: Right across the street from Mimi's, you'll find laid back dive bar Big Daddy's. An eclectic mix of people, all of whom happen to be very nice, Big Daddy's is a go-to and, as a bonus, is frequently far less crowded than many of the other bars in town, which means you won't have to wait very long to be served by the attractive, eager-to-please bar staff.

10. The Phoenix/Eagle: What does one do at a 24-hour gay bar? If you need to ask, check out this leather and Levi's joint on Elsyian Fields Avenue in Marigny and find out for yourself.

11. The John: If you didn't get your fill on impeccable Bloody Mary's at Cafe LaFitte, try swishing one out of a mason jar at The John, and then test your motor skills with some pools tables. Located in the Marigny, this dark, somewhat divey nightspot is truly a neighborhood bar but acts as if each and every visitor lives next door.

12. The Old Absinthe House: Known far and wide for its signature cocktail, the Absinthe House Frappe, a blend of herbsaint, anisette and soda water and invented in the 1860s, The Old Absinthe House has since expanded its menu but keeps its eye on the past as it serves up some of the city's most inventive and refreshing cocktails. The Planter's Punch -- rum, orange juice and sour mix -- is perfect for a hot summer's night, while the Brandy Milk Punch -- brandy, vanilla syrup and milk -- keeps you warm in the milder winter months. One word of warning: this place is swamped on Friday nights. If you can't make it there, though, their website includes plenty of recipes for you to use at your next Mardi Gras party.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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