1. Cooter Brown's Tavern (509 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-9104) -- For a city known for holding its liquor, New Orleans has a surprising paucity of hardcore tap rooms. That's why Cooter Brown's is not just some college hangout. Recognized by serious beer-drinking organizations nationwide, Cooter Brown's sports as many as 40 draft beers with a bottle section that numbers in the hundreds.
2. The Boot (1039 Broadway St., 866-9008) -- The Boot is the Drinking 101 classroom of Tulane and Loyola students, a ground-zero place with a distinctly Greek aura about it. This is simplicity at its, um, finest. Ambience takes a back seat to cheap prices -- though you have to appreciate the manta ray hanging from the ceiling -- as drinking-age students learn their way around a draft beer.
3. The Bulldog (3236 Magazine St., 891-1516/www.draftfreak.com) -- Another one of New Orleans' few extensive tap rooms, The Bulldog sports about 50 taps that crank out a wide range of foreign and domestic drafts, plus a selection of 100 bottles. This Garden District bar sits perched in one of the hippest and busiest stretches of Magazine Street, so the college crowd provides only a fraction of the scene.
4. Balcony Bar & Café (3201 Magazine St., 895-1600/891-2800) -- Across the street from The Bulldog sits the equally prodigious tap room of the Balcony Bar & Café, with a selection of 50 drafts (including several microbrews). This bar takes it to another level with its namesake second-floor balcony that offers a great view of Magazine Street and the Garden District, while the lower bar is perfect for shooting pool, watching sports, and video poker.
5. 735 Nightclub & Bar (735 Bourbon St., 581-6740) -- For a street that's often accused of being a bit on the tacky side, Bourbon Street is home to some of the most popular dance clubs in the city. Though dancing is often a weekend affair, 735 keeps the groove going during the week with specialty nights such as Wednesday's "Metropolis" (featuring electroclash and newer-wave music) and Thursday's "1984" (a hip retro night), while Friday's "Dress to Impress" kicks off the weekend with hip-hop.
6. Club 360 (World Trade Center, 33rd Floor, 2 Canal St., 522-9795 -- College women might find themselves on top of the world of this revolving nightclub that offers the breathtaking view of the city. That's because specialty nights such as "Liquid Thursdays" (ladies night) and "Desire Fridays" provide 18-plus admission for females and drink specials aplenty. The postmodern decor provides a sophisticated vibe (so dress up), while DJs spin hip-hop, dance and Latin music. When the Saints or Hornets are in town, you might catch a celebrity or two (Shaq's been spotted here).
7. Oz (800 Bourbon St., 593-9491); The Bourbon Pub/Parade (801 Bourbon St., 529-2107) -- The lower French Quarter is particularly "gay friendly," with bars and nightclubs everywhere, including these two dance clubs across from each other. Oz is known for drag shows, including the hilarious "Drag Bingo" happy hour on Thursday, Friday and Sunday afternoons. Both clubs offer dance music every night of the week, with diamond-cut dancers swaying on the bars (don't forget to bring dollar bills). Because dance clubs in New Orleans aren't exactly ubiquitous, straights also flood the dance floor.
8. Parkway Tavern (5153 Canal Blvd., 488-2500) -- Where Canal Street becomes Canal Boulevard near City Park, the Parkway Tavern sits waiting for a mix of students (particularly from UNO) and twenty- and thirtysomethings to fill the spacious bar and patio. Weekends gear up early here; the Thursday ladies night is packed, as is Friday's drink special ($10 all-you-can-drink wells and drafts) -- both 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. DJ Travis spins dance and other music from Thursday to Saturday.
9. d.b.a. (616 Frenchmen St., 942-3731/ www.drinkgoodstuff.com) -- A few years back, owners of the d.b.a. in New York City's East Village moved South and set up shop along the uber-hip stretch of Frenchmen Street in Faubourg Marigny -- just a couple blocks from the French Quarter. Twentysomethings, thirtysomethings and students take advantage of the 20 or so taps and solid bottle selection, plus top-shelf bourbons and other liquors.
10. Daiquiri Island (7908 Ehrhart Blvd., 866-9711) -- Just a block off Carrollton Avenue on the downtown side sits the unassuming Daiquiri Island, a hotspot for Xavier students on the weekends. Ten taps provide the frozen slurpy drink of choice, while video poker machines, four pool tables and a pet iguana named Izzy keep the crowd occupied. There are drink specials Monday through Thursday afternoons, and ladies-night plans are underway.
- Eileen Loh Harrist
- A happening street scene, killer beer selection, good munchies and a fun crowd are on tap at the Bulldog.