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What screams “New Orleans” more than a haunted bar tour? Drinking, walking through historic streets and stories of ghosts just go together in a city that is centuries old and has more history of death and debauchery than any other. So deciding I wanted to tour haunted bars in New Orleans was the easy part. Where I would go was the harder part. I’ve done the research and walked the walk (maybe stumbled the stumble is a better choice of words – is that a thing?). Either way, what I found was that EVERY bar in New Orleans is in some way haunted. So here are the top five haunted bars in New Orleans, according to me – aka my top five favorite bars! I won’t ruin all the stories for you. Sit at the bar, grab a drink, and ask the bartender. Spirits abound in New Orleans, both the metaphysical kind and the liquid kind.
Top 5 Haunted Bars in New Orleans:
Don’t let the name fool you. This is a bar. They might serve food and be open during the day, but it is definitely more a bar than a cafe. Pirates Alley is also known as the Olde Absinthe House and that is exactly what drew me to this spot initially. Unlike Absinthe – the Las Vegas show, this was the real stuff! A clear liquid with the well known black licorice taste and all. You will find it on tap along with a full bar to choose from.
This bar is at the end of, wait for it… Pirates’ Alley. Even though it is tucked away right beside the St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square, it is easily missed if you aren’t looking for it. What goes together better than church and booze?? The bar itself can’t be larger than a master bedroom inside but offers open-air seating outside. I learned about the hauntings of this bar from the owner of the Faulkner House Bookstore next door, which was the home of William Faulkner, the writer. Let’s just say, if there is one place I truly believe is haunted, it is this one! The bookshop is definitely worth a day-time stop if haunted stories are your thing.
Hurricane city. And I mean that literally. Pat Obrien’s serves hurricane’s and the place is as big as a city. A “hurricane” is a popular drink in New Orleans, but you go to Pat Obrien’s to get the real deal and the beads to prove it. As you enter, the main bar is on your right, a piano bar on your left and straight ahead is the patio with a full-on flaming fountain. Hungry? Grab a bite at the Courtyard Restaurant or the Bourbon Bar. All of these locations have such different vibes to them. How to choose which to visit? Well, if you’re looking for the “hauntiest” of haunted places, go to the piano bar. It is said the keys play themselves at times… It gets crowded at night, so get there early. But there’s nothing like writing a song request on a napkin, throwing in $1 and hearing a live rendition of your favorite tune in a haunted New Orleans bar.
Laffite’s Blacksmith Shop
Hint: No longer a blacksmith shop. This bar… Wow! I like it during the day, I like it at night, I particularly like it when a horse dressed as a unicorn prances through the front door from Bourbon street. And these weren’t the only three times I visited over a long weekend. Laffies kept pulling me back in.
I don’t know if it was the lack of lighting – at night the whole bar is merely lit by candlelight – the guy outside trying to get me to pay him to draw my picture, the huge piano in the back that you can literally sit around while someone plays, or the red bull drinks running through my veins, but this place was the best. To be clear, this bar is the oldest, continually running bar in the United States. Not to be confused with the actual oldest bar in the United States. There IS a big difference, apparently! Actually, I don’t care at all. Jean Laffite is the man and so is his bar. Legend says some of his treasure is still hidden in the walls or floors of the old blacksmith shop that was a front for his shady business for so long. The history around the pirate who was Jean Laffite is one of the more fascinating stories in New Orleans.
Located right in Jackson Square, this more upscale restaurant and bar is one of my favorites. I previously saw the table set for one during a ghost tour with French Quarter Phantoms. The story goes that a table is set every night to keep the resident ghost happy. Why? It is a tale best told there, but it involves slaves, gambling, and a wager worth more than life itself. Spooky stuff!
The real reason to visit Muriels lies in the ability to grab a glimpse of the Seance Room on the top floor. Yes, I said Seance Room! Grab a drink at the downstairs bar and check with the bartender or hostess to see if it is open. If so, you are in for a real treat. We had the place to ourselves and grabbed some fantastic photos.
Jean Laffite’s Old Absinthe House
Are you seeing a theme here? Absinthe was boss back in the 1700s. So was Jean Laffite. The vibe in here was a little odd, but weird enough to make it divey in a good way. You’ll find business cards on the walls, football helmets hanging from above and popcorn on demand. The bartenders could have been friendlier and more knowledgeable about the bar. I really got nothing from them except drinks, salty popcorn, and some side eye. Yet I turned the corner outside of the main bar to a small courtyard only to see this sign.
It reads, “Old Absinthe House. Legend has it that General Andrew Jackson and Governor W. C. C. Claiborne met here with Jean Lafitte on the secret floor to plan the defense of New Orleans. The Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815.” Tell me moreeee!
Thank you, people of 1815, or soon after, for remembering this and chiseling it into stone. The courtyard turned into a pretty good hideout in an otherwise busy city. My group and I were the only ones out there and the barricade with bars blocked off the street and foot traffic. So essentially we were on display for everyone walking by. This proved to be quite entertaining people watching. Old Absinthe House is absolutely worth a visit.
That’s it. That is the list of top haunted bars in New Orleans. I hope you found some inspiration for visiting haunted bars in New Orleans on your next trip.
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Have you been to New Orleans? What is your favorite haunted bar? Did I miss any?