When one thinks of New Orleans, probably the first images that come to mind are Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras. Bourbon Street has developed a party reputation thanks to open container laws and the many bars found there. Crowds flock yearly to festivals, parties, and countless parades; there’s probably some alcohol involved as well. Maybe you don’t want to drink while visiting the Big Easy and you feel limited in your options, but this isn’t the case! There are quite a few options to pick from when visiting the city!
Some people choose not to drink for personal reasons or, like myself, for health reasons, so trying to find alternatives can be challenging. Whatever the case is, in recent years, there has been a growing movement of “Sober Curious” people seeking out nonalcoholic drinks in the form of mocktails, nonalcoholic beer and wine, and other beverages. In fact, according to an article published by Wine Enthusiast in February 2022, the demand for nonalcoholic drinks shot up 60% between 2020 and 2021. This change has led to an increase in different companies and even traditional shopping locations like Total Wine offering more nonalcoholic options. The Big Easy is no different. While visiting New Orleans, if you are looking for a nonalcoholic drink, there are many options to explore and consider!
New Orleans is home to many restaurants, bars, and thriving culinary traditions that go back centuries. You might be offered an O’Doul’s, soda, or water if you order a nonalcoholic drink. Where’s the fun in that? In many bars, you can ask bartenders for the drink’s nonalcoholic version, which can be easily accommodated. Some bars specifically offer mocktails and/or have some nonalcoholic beverages on their menus. Here are a few:
Sober Bar Babe’s establishment is unique as it isn’t your traditional bar because its base of operations is out of a trailer. Currently located on Rampart Street near Congo Square, they offer non-alcoholic drinks and a variety of locally made snacks. See their Facebook and Instagram pages for their latest updates and hours of operation.
Bar Tonique is located at 820 N. Rampart Street and specializes in cocktails and craft beverages. There is a specific area of their menu listed as temperance drinks. The name harkens back to the temperance movement that led to prohibition in America. Under this menu section, some house-made sodas and drinks could quench anyone’s thirst. Check out their website for the latest hours.
This restaurant has a wide variety of food, wines, and cocktails; however, one nonalcoholic beverage stands out on the menu: a Cherry Limeade. This drink could complement any meal with refreshing ingredients, including ginger beer and muddled cucumber. See their website for their updated hours.
Located as a part of Arnaud’s (found in the French Quarter) at 813 Bienville Street. This bar offers a variety of cocktails and features three nonalcoholic drinks on its menu: a Spiced Pomegranate Spritz, a Lemongrass Punch, and a refreshing Tropical Storm with a variety of fruit juices. They also have a broad food menu and a jazz brunch. Check out their website for the most up-to-date hours of operation and additional details.
Commander’s Palace has been a mainstay in New Orleans since 1893. Their menu features some noteworthy nonalcoholic drinks, including the Island Respite (mixed with coconut water, pineapple, lime, and basil). Some other drinks include the Peach Basil Cooler and the Root Beer Flexuit. They also have a strong cocktail program where many drinks could be requested without alcohol. They’re open at 1403 Washington Avenue. See their website for their most current hours.
Found in a unique location reminiscent of a library, Bar Marilou offers a comprehensive cocktail program and features two nonalcoholic beverages on its menu. The drinks are named If I Ever Cease to Love and the Hive Mind. Both drinks offer the perfect blend of ingredients to satisfy any pallet. The establishment also has a French-influenced food menu as well. They’re located at 544 Carondelet Street. See the website for the most current operating hours.
A tropical-inspired restaurant at 113 Decatur Street, the bar offers virgin cocktails and some tropical juices. Some alcohol-free cocktails they offer include virgin hurricanes and negronis, fresh coconut juice, and a hibiscus tea. The food menu has a wide variety of dishes and a brunch menu. See their website for more information.
If you simply don’t like the bar scene or mocktails, New Orleans has plenty of other sober options to satisfy anyone’s craving. From coffee to tea to fancy drinks, there is something for everyone.
Next to New Orleans’s boozy reputation, there is a huge coffee culture that can be found in the city. Coffee first came to the New World through the colony of New Amsterdam (later New York) and grew in popularity in the Americas, especially when the British were heavily taxing tea. But New Orleans wasn’t under British colonial rule; it was under the French. In New Orleans, Rose Nicaud established the first coffee shop in New Orleans in the early 19th century. Nicaud, a formerly enslaved person who later purchased her freedom, had a push cart where she would sell her coffee near the famous French Market. This would help birth the movement and create the city’s budding coffee culture.
There are any number of coffee and cafe shops in New Orleans. Some of the more iconic places are Cafe Du Monde and Cafe Beignet. Cafe Du Monde has been a mainstay in New Orleans since 1862 and has various locations throughout the city. In addition to being known for its beignets, Cafe Beignet has coffee, breakfast, and multiple locations throughout the city. Check their websites for hours; breakfast tends to be the busiest time, so plan accordingly. Other coffee shops worth visiting are Flora’s Gallery and Coffee Shop and St. Coffee at 2718 St. Claude Ave. Flora’s is a local’s favorite for hanging out; they’re also typically open late. St. Claude is near art markets, so you can browse local art while enjoying your coffee. Another place to visit is Envie Espresso and Cafe on Decatur Street. In addition to enjoying coffee or espresso, this is a great place to watch people and take in the sights of the city. Maybe coffee isn’t your thing, and tea is.Then check out Bottom of the Cup Tea Shop. In addition to offering a wide selection of teas, this place also is a psychic shop with a little bit of everything. Have your tea leaves read after you finish your drink!
There are also blended smoothies, milkshakes, and soda to consider! The Organic Banana offers both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. You can order smoothies from different flavors or try one of their signature drinks, the Banana Royal. Another unique choice is The Green Fork, a restaurant that offers endless choices for blended juices and smoothies. Another place to try is Mr. Bubbles Cafe, which offers Vietnamese iced coffee, smoothies, and tea.