The legal drinking age is 21 in Louisiana. Like most of the United States, the drinking age is strictly enforced and most establishments will check ID. However, notably unlike the vast majority of US cities, drinking in public is legal everywhere in the city, provided it is from a plastic cup. New Orleans also has no "blue laws" or mandatory closing times for liquor establishments, which means that any hour of day or night, every day of the year, there is always somewhere to get alcohol.
You can head out the door with an open container of alcohol—but not in a bottle or can; to try to keep broken glass and jagged metal from filling the street, local laws mandate you use a plastic cup while on city streets and sidewalks. These are known locally as "go cups", and every local bar provides them, usually has a stack of them by the door and the bouncer will take your drink from you and pour it into the cup because bars can be held liable if they don't. Use them, because New Orleans Police are watching for it, especially on Bourbon Street.
Some drinks are noted for their potency, such as the tourist favorite "Hurricane" (a fruit punch and rum drink), which originated at Pat O'Brien's bar but now common in the Quarter. However, drinking does not have to be about quantity. Popular refined local cocktails include the "sazerac" and the "Ramos gin fizz". New Orleanians also love wine.
Beer lovers should try local brews like "Abita" on tap, from light Wheat to dark "Turbodog" to the quirky "Purple Haze", a raspberry beer loved by some. "NOLA" (New Orleans Lager & Ale) Brewery opened Uptown in 2008 and has become a favorite of local beer lovers as well.
Listings of some top choices of the city's bars, from friendly neighborhood dives to elegant cocktail palaces, can be found in the neighborhood articles.
Especially if you're drinking alcohol (but even if you aren't), be sure to drink a lot of water or other non-alcoholic beverages to avoid dehydration in the southern heat and humidity.
New Orleans is a great coffee city. A good portion of the Eastern US's coffee beans are imported through the Port of New Orleans and roasted in local factories. Locals tend to take a good cup of coffee seriously, and in New Orleans coffee tends to be a bit stronger and more flavorful than in most of the USA. Café du Monde in the French Quarter is probably the city's most historic coffee destination, serving café au lait with chicory since 1862. Popular locally based coffee house chains PJ's and CC's have locations around the city serving good hot and cold coffee drinks. New Orleans also has a wealth of local neighborhood coffee shops; the best are listed in the individual sections articles.
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