The problem I have with a lot of the newer cocktail bars in New Orleans is that they don't feel like New Orleans bars. They feel like something you'd likely find in New York, Miami, or Los Angeles. They employ "mixologists," not bartenders. Fuck that.
The thing that makes Tonique special, besides it's ridiculously extensive menu of original, delicious cocktails, is that it toes the line between dive bar and cocktail bar effortlessly. It feels special while still being completely unpretentious. Sitting right on the border of the Quarter and the Treme, Tonique bills itself simply as "a New Orleans neighborhood bar with hand-crafted cocktails." It executes this mission statement perfectly.
The bartenders at Tonique are highly skilled— it's downright mesmerizing to watch them do their jobs at times— but they'll still stop to talk to you about the Saints or listen to you bitch about your girlfriend. For this reason, Tonique is the best bar in New Orleans.