Backspace Bar & Kitchen
139 Chartres St., (504) 322-2245; www.backspacenola.com
The vibe: Comfortable seats and a food menu with some original items (one highlight: the roast beef and oyster sandwich) add to this literary-themed bar's charms. A rowdier restaurant-industry crowd shows up after 10 p.m.
What you'll drink: Moscow mules or Death in the Afternoon, a Prohibition-era cocktail featuring Champagne and absinthe.
725 St. Louis St., (504) 581-4422; www.antoines.com/hermes-bar.html
The vibe: The bar formerly was one of the dining rooms at 175-year-old Creole dining grande dame, Antoine's Restaurant. Since its 2009 conversion, it provides cocktails and a short menu of Antoine's specialties (including those famous souffle potatoes) in a less fussy setting.
What you'll drink: Classic New Orleans cocktails, or something from the extensive wine list.
Kerry Irish Pub
331 Decatur St., (504) 527-5954
The vibe: Patrons head to this Irish pub to play pool and listen to nightly live music by musicians such as Lynn Drury, Kim Carson and Chip Wilson.
What you'll drink: Irish whiskey, Guinness and Harp on tap.
500 Chartres St., (504) 524-9752; www.napoleonhouse.com
The vibe: This bar's rustic dining room gives way to one of the French Quarter's more enchanting courtyards. Typical of a Ralph Brennan property, the menu is a mashup of well-executed New Orleans standards and bistro fare.
What you'll drink: One of several house takes on a Pimm's Cup (or try them all).
Pirate's Alley Cafe
622 Pirates Alley, (504) 524-9332; www.piratesalleycafe.com
The vibe: Tucked on a side street off Jackson Square, the bar has a slightly goofy high-seas theme and the feel of a hideaway in a high-traffic tourist area. It's a good place to duck out of a storm for a drink — or several.
What you'll drink: One of four types of absinthe.
616 St. Peter St., (504) 934-3463; www.tableaufrenchquarter.com
The vibe: A fraternal conjoined twin to Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre (attached at the lobby), Dickie Brennan's three-story restaurant has bars on two levels, a wine room on top and a long balcony overlooking Jackson Square.
What you'll drink: European wines on tap or the Black Creek Summer, a honeysuckle vodka cocktail.
BOURBON STREET BARS
144 Bourbon St., (504) 522-0111; www.bourbonhouse.com
The vibe: There's ample room for dining in Dickie Brennan's refined eatery on the first block of Bourbon Street, but seats at the bar and raw seafood bar offer views out massive picture windows of the bustle on the street.
What you'll drink: Choose from a wide selection of small-batch and aged bourbons and rye whiskies, local beers on draft and frozen bourbon milk punch.
Bourbon Orleans, 730 Bourbon St., (504) 571-4685; www.bourbono.com
The vibe: Bourbon O is a polished modern space with a taste for the classics, including live traditional jazz and classic cocktails.
What you'll drink: Cheryl Charming's bar serves Ramos gin fizzes, Pimm's Cups and absinthe cocktails, as well as her spins on popular drinks, such as Moscow mule variations with rum, whiskey or gin.
725 Conti St., (504) 527-0869; www.coppermonkeygrill.com
The vibe: Tucked just off Bourbon Street, Copper Mon- key is a casual spot that serves hearty creative bar fare. It is popular with French Quarter service industry folks after the places they work close.
What you'll drink: Hurricanes, bloody marys and regional craft beers from Abita Brewing Company and Parish Brewing Company.
Royal Sonesta, 300 Royal St., (504) 536-0300; www.sonesta.com/royalneworleans
The vibe: The series of French doors at Le Booze offer great views of a colorful block of Bourbon Street. Grab a seat at the copper-top island bar and enjoy the crowd inside or outside.
What you'll drink: Draft beer from regional brewers such as Abita Brewing Company, Bayou Teche Brewing and Urban South Brewery.
Red Fish Grill
115 Bourbon St., (504) 598-1200; www.redfishgrill.com
The vibe: Ralph Brennan's refined seafood house has a spacious combined bar and oyster bar, and the selections run against the current of the strip's "Huge Ass Beers" and bucket cocktails.
What you'll drink: Original cocktails such as the Red Fish Grill lemonade (vodka, lemonade, watermelon water, mint syrup) or the CAT 5 hurricane (Cruzan 151 and light rums, Flor de Cana gold rum, juices).
435 Bourbon St., 600 Bourbon St., 610 Bourbon St., 721 Bourbon St., (504) 529-1702; www.tropicalisle.com
The vibe: Island hop through this string of brightly colored, tropical-themed (there's bamboo and palm leaf decor) bars where it's spring break forever.
What you'll drink: Dive into a Shark Attack cocktail or pull the pin on a signature neon green Hand Grenade (frozen or on the rocks) and blow caution to the wind.
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French Quarter & Bourbon Street Bars