New Orleans bars are known for interesting cocktails and stiff drinks and it’s clear that both locals and visitors alike love to drink. Many people know of the Hurricane, Hand Grenade, and Fishbowl drinks you can find on Bourbon Street, but the Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. The history of the Sazerac begins in New Orleans’ French Quarter, and the drink is readily available in almost all New Orleans bars today.
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Antoine Amedee Peychaud was a refugee from the West Indies who arrived in New Orleans in the early 19th Century. Peychaud, like thousands of refugees before him, was hoping to start a new life in New Orleans after escaping French rule on his native island. He opened a pharmacy in the French Quarter, but he was better known for his self-named Peychaud’s bitters than his store. He used his bitters, Sazerac de Forge et Fils cognac, sugar, and absinthe to make the “Sazerac”. He may or may not have begun to serve up the cocktail in his store, but we do know for sure that his bitters were sold to New Orleans bars as more people began to enjoy the drink. The history of the Sazerac could have stopped there but alcohol legislation and personal preferences evolved the cocktail.
Changes Over Time
The Sazerac itself has evolved as certain alcohols became more or less available over time. First, cognac got replaced with any rye whiskey. This change has made the cocktail more readily available at New Orleans bars. Then, absinthe was banned in 1912 which changed some of the fundamental ingredients in the special cocktail. Fortunately, New Orleans bar patrons had no problem replacing absinthe with other liquors.
The Sazerac Today
The history and tradition surrounding the Sazerac has helped to sustain its modern popularity. The Sazerac was named the official cocktail of New Orleans in 2008 by the Louisiana House of Representatives and has remained so for the past 10 years. You can find the drink in many New Orleans bars, or you can try making it at home!
How to Enjoy a Sazerac Today
So, if you want to enjoy one of these traditional whiskey cocktails, why not enjoy it in a glass that reminds you of its home? GlassblowerBen makes the best handmade cocktail glasses that are perfect for whiskey or any mixed drink.
Hand-Stamped Fleur Des Lis Glass - Pour up a Sazerac with a little homage to New Orleans’ French roots.
Hand-Stamped NOLA Manhole Cover Glass - Sip on your Sazerac with one of the most recognizable symbols of New Orleans at the bottom of the glass.