When summer comes around in New Orleans, everyone's on a mission to find the most fun way to cool down. Some say that a sno-ball at Hansen's Sno-Bliz will do the trick, but for those looking for a boozier treat, fear not. NOLA's craft cocktail scene is top tier all-year round, but summertime brings a fresh batch of summer cocktails to enjoy. Here are our picks of the most refreshing, chilled summer beverages and the best places to sip ‘em.
Nothing says summertime quite like a frozen drink, and Willa Jean’s frozen rosé – a combination of rosé, ice, and simple syrup – takes the gold medal for most refreshing cocktail to cool down with. Once the weather starts heating up in May and June, expect the restaurant and surrounding South Market District neighborhood to be filled with go cups of this pink slushie drink. Enjoy Willa Jean’s frosé with breakfast or brunch, weekend or weekday (we won’t tell). Or, when the sun goes down, head to Bayou Saint John in Mid-City to enjoy a frosé along with the lively outdoor atmosphere at Wrong Iron.
A mint julep is a staple to any summer day in NOLA. This beverage is a mix of Kentucky Whiskey, simple syrup, mint leaves, and crushed ice. Many prefer to drink a mint julep during a day at the Fairgrounds, watching horse races. But if you’re just looking for the cocktail, we recommend a mint julep from the iconic Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, where you can sit at the bar and (slowly) spin on an ornate moving carousel. Another great place for a mint julep is Cure in the Uptown neighborhood.
Cuban cocktail bar and restaurant Manolito offers refreshing daiquiris with an upscale twist. Order one made the old fashioned way – shaken over crushed ice – or frozen. Find this small, yet inviting spot tucked away in the French Quarter and be sure to order bartender and co-owner Nick Detrich’s personal favorite, the Floradita. If you’re uptown and craving a frozen daiq, Bourrée at Boucherie is a great pick as the daiquiris are crafted with all fresh ingredients: think strawberry daiqs with strawberries straight from Pontchatoula.
This British cocktail made its way to New Orleans in the 1800s and instantly became a core component of the menu at Napoleon House in the French Quarter. To this day, any local will tell a visitor that this venue makes the best Pimm’s Cup in the city (although there’s certainly worthy competition). The recipe includes Pimm’s #1, lemonade, 7-up, cucumber garnish, and of course, lots of ice for a chill. Sip this cocktail on a summer evening before dinner at Napoleon House.
Two French Quarter haunts are worth stopping by on a summer morning (or afternoon, or whenever) for their frozen Irish coffees. Molly’s at the Market and Erin Rose both serve this cocktail that’s more like a boozy dessert than a drink. We’d advise taking one to-go and grabbing a beignet for breakfast to start your summer day in New Orleans off on the sweetest note.
The Bywater’s tucked away Country Club has it all: a beautiful pool, a restaurant for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and a fully stocked bar. The menu boasts a “Campari Paloma,” a summery, refreshing twist on the La Paloma that includes Campari, gin, grapefruit, and lemon. Bring your swimsuit and shades to sip it poolside. Nearby, Backspace Bar’s Prickly Pear Paloma is a great option in the French Quarter.
You can find a margarita at many establishments across the city, but there are a handful of places that have a great menu dedicated to different types of margaritas. Try the seasonal frozen at Johnny Sanchez. Casa Borrega, and Espiritu have a creative selection as well.
Enjoy the classic, refreshing French 75 cocktail from Arnaud's on a hot summer day. Crafted with Courvoisier VS, sugar, lemon juice and Moët & Chandon, the cocktail is a staple of the award-winning Arnaud's bar of the same name. While you're there, enjoy one of the other refreshing cocktails on the menu such as the Beso Violetta with mezcal, tequila, Lillet, blueberry-pineapple shrub and elderflower liqueur, or the Watermelon Cobbler with Pineau des Charentes, sherry and watermelon juice.
This classic Cuban highball is the perfect combination of citrus tang and minty sweetness, bringing a bit of that island flavor to the Caribbean’s northernmost city. Magazine Street is the prime location for a great mojito. Take a break from browsing the local boutique scene with drinks and tapas at Baru or bring one of St. Joe’s famous blueberry mojitos along with you as you walk. Further Uptown, pair your classic New Orleans oyster bar experience with a frozen pomegranate mojito at Superior Seafood, or cap off a day of exploring the Arts/Warehouse District with Colombian fare and classic (or fruit-infused) mojitos at Maïs Arepas.
If you’re in need of a place that has a little something for everyone, we’d recommend Alto, the trendy Ace Hotel’s rooftop pool, bar, and garden. Everything from the weekly-rotating frozen drinks to the margaritas and poolside snacks are delicious, and you can cool off under an umbrella in the shade or in the beautiful pool. From mai tais to hurricanes, Tiki Tolteca has an extensive cocktail menu that screams summer. Find the tiki bar on North Peters Street in the French Quarter. Also, be sure to check out Rum House, who has a menu section titled “boat drinks.”