Best Dance Club
1. Republic (828 S. Peters St., 528-8282; www.republicnola.com) — The closest thing New Orleans has to a New York-style velvet-rope nightlife experience, Republic features live music during the week with top local and national bands ... then segues into the weekend with Flashback, a retro 1980s-1990s dance party. On Saturday nights, the women get dressed up and the men come out to admire them. Just remember: "If it's on Jersey Shore, it won't get through the door."
2. Gold Mine Saloon (701 Dauphine St., 568-9125; www.goldminesaloon.net)
3. LePhare (523 Gravier St., 636-1890; www.lepharenola.com)
Best Sports Bar
1. Cooter Brown's Tavern (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com) — Cooter's topped our sports bar poll last year, too — so it, very wisely, hasn't changed a thing. The sporting oasis in Riverbend lives up to its nickname as the "Hall of Foam" with more than three dozen brews on tap and even more in bottles. Besides po-boys, muffs and burgers, there's also an awesome selection of Philly cheesesteaks (hard to find in New Orleans) — including a Cajun version with alligator sausage, shrimp and remoulade.
2. Gordon Biersch (200 Poydras St., 552-2739; www.gordonbiersch.com)
3. Bruno's Tavern (7538 Maple St., 861-7615; www.brunostavern.com)
Best College Bar
1. The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008) — The Boot has been distracting college kids for years with 50-cent night, a Friday happy hour with three-shot mixed drinks, pool tables and pizza that tastes best after 2 a.m. It's a true college bar, with normal clientele consisting of spillover from Broadway Street frat parties and Loyola and Tulane students who walk from campus residences.
2. Bruno's Tavern (7538 Maple St., 861-7615; www.brunostavern.com)
3. Fat Harry's (4330 St. Charles Ave., 895-9582)
Best Bar to Hook Up
1. F&M Patio Bar (4841 Tchoupitoulas St., 895-6784; www.fandmpatiobar.com) — This alcoholic annex of Tulane University down on Tchoupitoulas Street is several bars in one, including an outdoor patio and an upstairs. Nothing fancy (to say the least), just PBR, bar food, a pool table, songs you know by heart and a crowd every weekend waaaay into the wee hours. Once you've hooked up, commemorate the occasion with a few snaps in F&M's infamous photo booth — which, if you have enough to drink, looks a lot like a confessional.
2. The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008)
3. Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; www.draftfreak.com)
3. Monkey Hill (6100 Magazine St., 899-4800; www.monkeyhillbar.com)
Best Gay Bar
1. Oz (800 Bourbon St., 593-9491; www.ozneworleans.com) — This huge disco marks the corner on Bourbon Street where straight tourists usually clutch their Hurricanes and turn around. What are they missing? Locals and visitors alike crammed inside a dizzying danceteria, getting messy and having fun (the cast of this year's Real World: New Orleans ended up there). During the week, there are bingo games and drag shows hosted by the outrageous Blanche Debris.
2. The Bourbon Pub/Parade (801 Bourbon St., 529-2107; www.bourbonpub.com)
3. Good Friends (740 Dauphine St., 566-7191; www.goodfriendsbar.com)
Best Neighborhood Bar
1. The Kingpin (1307 Lyons St., 891-2373; www.kingpinbar.com) — A great neighborhood bar, paradoxically, makes you want to travel across town to go there. The Kingpin does just that by making a neat 7-10 split between a comfy hangout and a true dive, with an ageless blue-collar New Orleans vibe — it's a perfect place to meet before a movie at the Prytania Theater. Play darts or just sit at the bar, bending your elbow and marveling at the layers of memorabilia covering the walls, a New Orleans education in itself.
2. St. Joe's Bar (5535 Magazine St., 899-3744)
3. Pal's Lounge (949 N. Rendon St., 488-7257)
Best Hotel Bar
1. Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge (Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., 523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com) — The Monteleone's revolving Carousel Bar was always a great spot to climb aboard and watch the world go by outside on Royal Street. But in recent years, the Carousel has stepped up its cocktail game, and you can now get a drink as eleganza as the surroundings (it's the unofficial clubhouse of the annual Tales of the Cocktail festival). In back, tiny banquette booths are a nice place for cuddling and listening to the piano man.
2. Sazerac (The Roosevelt New Orleans, 123 Baronne St., 648-1200; www. therooseveltneworleans.com)
3. Polo Lounge (Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier St., 523-6000; www.windsorcourthotel.com)
Best Gentlemen's/Strip Club
1. Rick's Cabaret (315 Bourbon St., 524-4222; www.ricks.com) — Of all the strip joints on Bourbon Street, Rick's stands out for two reasons (oh, stop it): the beauty of the women and the bite on your wallet. Sure, you can go cheaper, but you don't need an AmEx Black Card to have a good time at Rick's. Those with beer-bottle pockets can forgo the fine wines and cigars and lap dances ... but don't expect any extra attention from the ladies. Tip: Rick's lunch buffet is one of the best deals in town. Call to see if it's on.
2. Visions (4000 Downman Road, 240-0069; www.visionsmensclub.com)
3. Larry Flynt's Hustler Club (225 Bourbon St., 524-0010; www.hustlerclubs.com)
Best Happy Hour
1. Superior Bar & Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com) — Sorry, Jimmy Buffett — the real Margaritaville is the Superior, where people from all over the city descend to drink away their workdays shortly after happy hour starts at 3:30. Get there early or be forced to jostle your way to the bar for a mojito or daiquiri. And if all that tequila makes you want to line your stomach, get a seat on the patio and order up some of Superior's Ameri-Mexican specials like fajitas, Mexican chicken salad or enchiladas.
2. Victorian Lounge (The Columns Hotel, 3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com)
3. Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar (701 Tchoupitoulas St., 523-8995; www.lucysretiredsurfers.com)
Best Bar for Nonsmokers
1. Cure (4905 Freret St., 302-2357; www.curenola.com) — You don't have to squint through a haze of Marlboro smoke to admire the massive, apothecarian Wall of Booze at Cure, because "aromatics are of great importance while enjoying food and beverage," the bar tells its customers.
2. Rock 'N' Bowl (3000 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-1700; www.rockandbowl.com)
3. Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal St., 304-4714; www.chickiewahwah.com)
3. Victorian Lounge (The Columns Hotel, 3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com)
Best Bar to People-Watch
1. The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com) — It isn't the largest venue in town. In fact, the long, narrow boxcar of a wine bar is rather cozy, but readers deemed its combination of barstool perches and fishbowl of a front banquette as a top people-watching hub. It's also a dining car with a small menu, and patrons like to savor the selections of wine and gourmet bites as they explore who else is on board.
2. Pat O'Brien's (718 St. Peter St., 525-4823; www.patobriens.com)
3. Cat's Meow (701 Bourbon St., 523-3492; www.catskaraoke.com)
3. The Market Cafe (1000 Decatur St., 527-5000; www.marketcafenola.com)
Best Place to Get a Bloody Mary
1. Superdome (1500 Sugar Bowl Drive, 587-3663; www.superdome.com) — The origins of the Bloody Mary are disputed, but it's one classic cocktail that definitely was not invented in New Orleans. We love it anyway, and not just as a hangover dispersant. In other towns, pro football fans stick to weak stadium beer and their personal flasks, but Saints ticketholders have discovered the bars inside the Superdome make a damn good Bloody Mary, which — given our love for spices — is basically an alcoholic gazpacho.
2. Moonlight Cafe (1921 Sophie Wright Place, 522-7313)
3. Pat O'Brien's (718 St. Peter St., 525-4823; www.patobriens.com)
Best Place to Get a Sazerac
1. Sazerac (The Roosevelt New Orleans, 123 Baronne St., 648-1200; www. therooseveltneworleans.com) — A bad Sazerac — well, there's nothing worse, but when it's done right, there's nothing better. Where else to get one (or to develop a taste for one) than in the gloriously restored Sazerac Bar at the equally gloriously restored Hotel Roosevelt? These strong treats were off-limits to ladies until after World War II, when some Southern suffragettes forcibly "stormed" the Sazerac. Today the Paul Ninas murals are as rich as ever, and the bar is now nonsmoking.
2. Napoleon House Bar & Cafe (500 Chartres St., 524-9752; www.napoleonhouse.com)
3. Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge (Hotel Monteleone, 214 Royal St., 523-3341; www.hotelmonteleone.com)
Best Place to Get a Margarita
1. Superior Bar & Grill (3636 St. Charles Ave., 899-4200; www.superiorgrill.com — Superior is such a perennial winner in this category that you have to wonder: What do they really put in those margaritas? The answer (fresh fruit juice and top-shelf tequilas) is what keeps people coming back. The menu has a half page devoted to margaritas and tequila, with more than a dozen ways to get an agave burn on. Plus, you get to sip your margarita in a spirited bar that attracts a young crowd, or while you dine on Mexican favorites.
2. El Gato Negro (81 French Market Place, 525-9752; www.elgatonegronola.com)
3. Santa Fe ( 3201 Esplanade Ave., 948-0077;www.santafeneworleans.com)
Best Place to Get a Martini
1. Clancy's ( 6110 Annunciation St., 895-1111) — ... and by "martini," we don't mean alcoholic chocolate milk in a martini glass, but the classic cocktail that would do James Bond (and James Beard) proud. Your favorite place is Clancy's, far off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood near Audubon Park, where the food is as New Orleans-dignified and perfect as the martinis. Olive or twist?
2. The Bombay Club (830 Conti St., 586-0972; www.thebombayclub.com)
3. N'Tini's (2891 Hwy. 190, Suite D, Mandeville, 985-626-5566; www.ntinis.com)
Best Place to Get Wine by the Glass
1. Wine Institute of New Orleans (610 Tchoupitoulas St., 324-8000; www.wineschool.com) — A class and a glass — that's what you can get at W.I.N.O., the Warehouse District hideaway that's the home of the grape. The "Intro to Wine" class is a great way to learn the basics (and at $35 for eight tastings, a bargain). Sample vintages by the glass, half-glass, or bottle and pair them with tapas — or just get a bottle to take home.
2. The Delachaise (3442 St. Charles Ave., 895-0858; www.thedelachaise.com)
3. Clever — A Wine Destination (3700 Orleans Ave., 483-6360; www.cleverwines.com)
3. Tommy's Wine Bar (752 Tchoupitoulas St., 525-4790; www.tommysneworleans.com)
Best Beer Selection
1. The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516; www.draftfreak.com) — Once again topping our list for brew lovers, the Bulldog has more than 100 varieties of bottled beer, as well as 50 on tap. There's usually a crowd in the barroom and on the patio, and you never know who you'll find sitting around the miniature fountain — college kids, thirtysomethings on the make, sports buddies, Mom and Dad on date night ...
2. Cooter Brown's Tavern (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104; www.cooterbrowns.com)
3. The Avenue Pub (1732 St. Charles Ave., 586-9243; www.theavenuepub.com)
Best Bar for Creative Cocktails
1. Cure (4905 Freret St., 302-2357; www.curenola.com) — Cure has fully embraced the craft-cocktail renaissance, and its combo of luxe civility and great drinks earned it high marks in our 2010 Best Bars readers' poll. The best advice? Let a bartender know what you like and have him craft a drink just for you — and be patient; all good drinks come to those who wait.
2. Iris (321 N. Peters St., 299-3944; www.irisneworleans.com)
3. Bar Tonique (820 N. Rampart St., 324-6045; www.bartonique.com)