Prohibition Never succeeded in making New Orleans dry, but it was long after repeal before a distillery opened. Old New Orleans Rum (2815 Frenchmen St., 504-945-9400; www.oldneworleans.com) broke that ground when it opened in Gentilly in 1995, and now there are several distillers around the city. Changes to state laws in 2012 allow distilleries to sell spirits directly to customers, give visitors tours, host tastings and more.
Similar to a brewpub, Lula Restaurant Distillery (1532 St. Charles Ave., 504-267-7624; www.lulanola.com) is a microdistillery and full-service restaurant and bar, and it became the first of its kind in the state when it opened early last year. It uses sugarcane from Belle Rose, Louisiana to produce small batches of vodka, gin and rum. The space has an expansive dining room in front and the microdistillery's large copper and stainless steel tanks are visible in back. Short tours are offered as well. Patrons can sample the house liquors, purchase tasting flights or try the spirits in signature cocktails, some of which are available on tap. There are daily happy hours from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and a late-night happy hour 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday. On weekends, Lula offers a bottomless vodka bar option for $20. Lula's spirits also are available by the bottle.
Lula was opened by Bear Caffery and Jess Bourgeois, formerly of Commander's Palace. The menu combines Gulf seafood and Southern and Louisiana ingredients, sometimes in creative items such as boudin egg rolls.
Atelier Vie's (1001 S. Broad St., 504-534-8590; www.ateliervie.com) spirits can be found at many local restaurants and stores, and the distillery is open to visitors on weekends and by appointment. The building is under the Broad Street overpass and the entrance is on the 3900 block of Euphrosine Street. Jedd Haas founded the distillery in 2011, and it produces Euphrosine gin, Orphan Street brandy, Buck 25 Vodka, Riz Louisiana rice whiskey and two absinthes — Toulouse Green and Toulouse Red. Toulouse Green is inspired by 19th-century French recipes and uses Louisiana wormwood, while Toulouse Red is a new American style and gets its color from hibiscus. The distillery is open to visitors on weekends, when it offers samples and customers can purchase bottles.
When Old New Orleans Rum opened in a Gentilly warehouse, it became the first rum distiller in the continental United States. Ownership has changed, but it focuses exclusively on rum and makes several styles. The namesake Old New Orleans Rum is aged in white oak casks. Bottlings also include its white rum named Crystal, bourbon barrel-aged Amber, spice-steeped Cajun Spice and its 20th anniversary, limited-release King Creole. Old New Orleans Rum also sells Gingeroo, a zesty ginger-flavored bottled rum drink. The warehouse is a fairly raw space filled with barrels of aging rum, and there's a tasting room and gift shop. For $7.50, visitors can taste several rums, and there are several tours daily for $15. A free shuttle to the distillery departs from the French Market, but visitors should call to arrange pickup.
Roulaison Distilling Co. (2727 S. Broad St., Suite 103, 504-517-4786; www.roulaison.com), founded in 2016 by Andrew Lohfeld and Patrick Hernandez, also makes local rum. At its location in Broadmoor, it uses a pot still and pre-industrial production methods — with longer fermentation times — to make a white rum, a Navy strength rum and a rum liqueur. Visitors can sample its small-batch releases and buy bottles at its welcome center, which is open 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. A distillery tour is offered at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Seven Three Distilling Co. (301 N. Claiborne Ave., 504-265-8545; www.seventhreedistilling.com) is building itself on local neighborhood identity. The number 73 refers to a count of local neighborhoods, and bottlings are named for some of them, such as Gentilly Gin, St. Roch Vodka, Marigny Moonshine and Irish Channel Whiskey. Seven Three — founded by Sal and Eileen Bivalacqua and Jeff and Mary Ann Rogers in 2016 — both distills spirits and blends acquired spirits, such as the combination in Irish Channel Whiskey. Some of the spirits get local flavor from ingredients such as the persimmon used in Gentilly Gin and the lemon grass and cucumber in St. Roch Cucumber vodka. Visitors can take a 45-minute tour through the distillery, tasting room and gift shop for $15. Every Thursday, Seven Three hosts a happy hour from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The space can be rented for events.
In 2010, Kenneth and Edward Haik opened Cajun Spirits Distillery (2532 Poydras St.; www.cajunspirits.com), which makes Crescent Vodka, Tresillo Rum and 3rd Ward Gin with sugarcane from New Iberia. Cajun Spirits offers tours by appointment.