New Orleans has a long and storied history with cocktails, starting with being the alleged birthplace of the cocktail with a concoction that grew up to be the Sazerac. From these not so humble beginnings, a host of cocktails were created in or adopted by New Orleans. Like everything else from home, the people of New Orleans loved them and still do. Here are 10 classic New Orleans cocktails – not to mention, 10 of the best cocktails anywhere – and where to get them.
The drink that started it all is now made with rye, Peychaud’s bitters, herbsaint (or absinthe), and a little bit of sugar. While you’ll be able to grab a great Sazerac in lots of places around town, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate bar than the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel.
This English favorite has been lovingly adopted by the Napoleon House in the French Quarter. The Pimm’s Cup is very reminiscent of ginger ale with a kick and is best enjoyed in the shade in the Napoleon House’s interior courtyard.
This creamy and delicious beverage is typically made with Brandy or Bourbon and makes a perfect start to a lazy Sunday brunch. This is how my family starts our traditional Lundi Gras brunch at Commander’s Palace.
Ramos Gin Fizz
Created in 1888 by bar owner Henry C. Ramos, the Ramos Gin Fizz is designed to cool and refresh you with each sip. Often found accompanying breakfast and brunch orders, this fizzy drink is great to grab any time you need to beat the heat or refresh yourself. Need a Ramos Gin Fizz? I’d look to Lu Brow at Cafe Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar.
Another fine cocktail created in New Orleans, the Vieux Carre (the French name for the French Quarter) is another rye and bitters based cocktail, like the Sazerac. To get a Vieux Carre, there’s no better place to go than where the drink was created in the 1930s, the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone.
Named for the powerful French 75mm guns used in World War I, this gin and Champagne drink packs a powerful punch. This refreshing drink is a great drink to have at one of the classiest bars in the city, the French 75.
Once you’ve finished off your French 75, it’s time to venture through the doorway connecting the French 75 and Arnaud’s for some dinner and an Arnaud’s Special. This drink was the signature drink of Arnaud’s during the 1940s and 50s and has seen a recent resurgence in popularity. This warming drink has often been described as a cousin to the more familiar Rob Roy.
Bloody Marys can be found all over the place, but like everything else, we’ve added our own little twist to it. Bloody Marys in New Orleans are spicy and filled with an assortment of out of this world veggies, such as spicy pickled green beens or okra. You’ll find Bloody Marys all over the city, but the best Bloody Mary is the one you make. Head to Atchafalya Restaurant on Saturdays and Sundays and be prepared to be awed by their Bloody Mary bar that lets you create this eye-opener.
New Orleans’ strong connection to Europe made it a natural stronghold for absinthe in the United States during the heyday of its popularity, prior to the absinthe ban of 1912. Now that absinthe has been proven safe and the ban lifted, this refreshing absinthe beverage is once again available. For a unique twist on this drink, order one at the Old Absinthe House.
A made in New Orleans night cap, Cafe Brulot is as much a drink as it is post-meal entertainment. After a big meal, nothing revives the group like a tableside display of flaming liquor. While you can grab a Cafe Brulot at most classic fine dining spots around town, you might as well go where it was invented prior to prohibition, Antoine’s.
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