Find a happy hour every hour—without the Bourbon Street mobs.
In the months without massive festivals (Mardi Gras in February and Jazz fest in April), tourist traffic to New Orleans drops—as do prices at many hotels. Go then, and avoid the slog down Bourbon Street by widening the scope of your bar crawl. Start in Marigny, where the Spotted Cat Music Club (206-337-3273) stages at least two jazzy bands a night. D.J. Soul Sister and an excellent late-night tapas menu are a double draw at nearby Mimi’s (myspace.com/mimisinthemarigny). At R Bar, $10 buys you a shot and a haircut on a Monday (royalstreetinn.com). Things get a little more upscale at the year-old cocktail bar Cure in Freret (plain old “uptown” to the locals). In the Central Business District (or “CBD”), the ramshackle Victorian house turned drinking den Circle Bar (504-588-2616) is a must-hit dive, while, by the Riverbend, Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge (snakeandjakes.com) is a New Orleans specialty: the sketchy but endearing roadhouse saloon. If you’re a sound sleeper (or have really good earplugs), book the “We Will Rock You Suite” at Loft 523 in CBD (starts at $79; loft523.com). The suite’s above a thumping bar, so you get a $50 bar tab to sweeten the deal.
OR: See the trickle-down effect of young liberals in power. (Bars!)
D.C.’s nightlife impresarios have capitalized on the influx of young Democrats by opening cocktail bars and dance spots in formerly downtrodden neighborhoods. Watch begoggled Hill staffers blow off steam at the Spike Sundays pool parties at the Capitol Skyline Hotel (capitolskyline.com), which has Top Chef-er Spike Mendelsohn on the grill, electro-dance music on the sound system, and Las Vegas in its blood. Roam the burgeoning H Street NE corridor, where the speakeasy Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar (littlemisswhiskeys.com) is just three blocks away from H Street Country Club (thehstreetcountryclub.com), a bar-restaurant with a mini-golf course. Foodies have adopted the Logan Circle neighborhood, alighting on Masa 14 for Asian-Latin fusion and the ChurchKey (churchkeydc.com) for combos like shrimp corn dogs. A room at the W (from $399; starwoodhotels.com) grants you coveted access to the Point of View rooftop bar, whose cocktail menu was curated by Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey.