It's appropriate that Gambit's 2012 Fall Bar Guide arrives just as the winter holidays get rolling. Celebrations with friends and family often beget visits to bars, and in New Orleans there is a watering hole for every taste and mindset. Here's a chance to revisit past favorites and learn about some new ones, whether you're in the mood for a dive bar, neighborhood joint, craft cocktails, dinner and drinks, an eclectic mix of patrons or a good date spot. The guide is arranged by neighborhood, and includes information about alcohol selections, live music, specialty nights, food choices, happy hours and more. So drink in the holiday season and beyond with a toast to New Orleans' drinking culture.
Dry Dock Cafe
133 Delaronde St., (504) 361-8240;
Dry Dock Cafe plays on the famous beach drink with its original Sex on the Levee cocktail. The rum punch also is popular. The restaurant offers seafood, burgers, po-boys and daily specials. Open daily. No smoking. Full restaurant menu. Happy hour 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Old Point Bar
545 Patterson Drive, (504) 364-0950;
Housed in a 100-year-old former dry goods store, the bar stages live music nightly and offers darts, pool, Wi-Fi and killer bloody marys, martinis and margaritas. It's the cornerstone of the annual Friendship Day street party. Dog friendly. Open daily. Smoking allowed. Microwaveable food available.
Vine & Dine
141 Delaronde St., (504) 361-1402;
There are more than 100 wines by the bottle on the menu, a wide range of wines by the glass and a selection of artisanal beers. The cozy wine bar is situated behind the retail wine and cheese shop. There's a full menu of cheeses, soups, appetizers, focaccia and more, all with recommended wine pairings. Open Mon.-Sat. No smoking. Full menu available. Happy hour 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
1511 S. Rendon St., New Orleans, (504) 304-4713
Bands play live music six nights a week at this Broadmoor bar, which is housed in an old aircraft hangar. Specialty nights include honky tonk Tuesday, burlesque Wednesday and homegrown bands on Sunday. Food can be ordered from the Rendon Inn next door. Open daily. Smoking allowed. No food.
4301 Burgundy St., (504) 945-9256
This dive bar draws an eclectic mix of patrons looking for cold beer and cheap prices. King James plays live music on Monday night, which also features free red beans and rice. On Saturday and Sunday, BJ's opens its back patio from noon to 9 p.m. and serves free food during New Orleans Saints games. Open daily. Smoking allowed. No food.
600 Poland Ave., (504) 948-9111;
Cheese plates and other cuisine are on the menu when Chef Joaquin Rodas cooks Wednesday through Saturday. Guest chefs cover the menu Sunday. There is plenty of seating in the courtyard, and a wide variety of wines. Open
daily. Smoking allowed. Full menu available.
The Country Club
634 Louisa St., (504) 945-0742;
The Country Club sits near the levee in the Bywater, and its backyard includes a pool, hot tub, sauna and fire pit. Inside, there's a walk-around island bar and a calendar of specialty nights. Saturday brunch features a build-your-own bloody mary bar. Open daily. Smoking allowed. Full restaurant menu. Happy hour 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
2239 St. Claude Ave., (504) 945-4446;
The Hi-Ho experience ranges from wild Jazz Fest nights to mellow, smoke-free bluegrass jams and red beans and rice on Monday and Lil' Stooges band and barbecue on Thursday. The Wandering Buddha prepares Korean and vegan fare. Open daily. Smoking allowed. Food available.
J&J's Sports Lounge
800 France St., (504) 942-8877;
This is the type of neighborhood bar that makes people want to move to the neighborhood. Strong, cheap drinks? Check. Bartenders/hosts who greet you by name? Check plus. Regulars ready to make conversation? Check double plus. Add video poker, darts, pool, a great jukebox, and sports viewing, and that's J&J's. Dog friendly. Open daily. Smoking allowed. No food.
Bar & Grill
801 Poland Ave., (504) 304-5411;
Starting this month, Jughead's (housed in The Joint's original location) presents its permanent menu that maintains its signature cheesecake but adds breakfast along with specialty martinis and cocktails, including the Key-lime pie and s'more martinis and a creamsicle cocktail. Open Wed.-Mon. Smoking allowed on patio. Full restaurant menu.
640 Louisa St., (504) 943-0785;
The Markey family has owned and operated this Bywater bar since 1945. Today, the worn-in pub has staples like a pool table and shuffleboard, as well as sliders and onion rings and other bar snacks. There are plenty of TV screens for game day. Open daily. Smoking allowed. Bar food.
4229 Dauphine St., (504) 947-5562
Neighborhood bar Vaughan's is a great bar for watching New Orleans Saints games. Free food at halftime is one reason, plus special chants and cheers that all the regulars know (and the newbies are quick to adopt). This is the place to be on Thursday nights when Kermit Ruffins jazzes up the joint. It's the Bywater epicenter for sprawling block parties and holiday bashes. Complimentary seafood on Fridays. Dog friendly. Open daily. Smoking allowed. No food.