In Good Spirits: Exploring New Orleans’ Iconic Cocktails

In Good Spirits: Exploring New Orleans' Iconic Cocktails

Hurricane – Pat O’Brien’s – French Quarter – New Orleans, LA. Photo Credit:

These New Orleans drinks are the very best in the Big Easy. Raise a toast to the Sazerac, the Vieux Carré, Pimm’s Cup and more.

Antoine Amédé Peychaud is often credited with mixing the very first Sazerac in his Royal Street pharmacy sometime in the 1830s. However, some believe the credit should go to Thomas Handy, a saloon owner from the 1870s. The true origins of the Sazerac, considered the first cocktail, remain unclear. Despite this historical ambiguity, New Orleans’ traditional concoctions are more popular than ever, being shaken, stirred, savored, and served in bars all over the city. From the Creole Mary to Café Brûlot, these drinks honor the city’s rich history and culture. In New Orleans, every sip is a celebration and a connection to the past. So, raise a glass to the city’s vibrant culture with the recipes for some of its most famous cocktails.


The most popular drink with visitors to the French Quarter may just be the sweet red Hurricane, created with rum at Pat O’Brien’s bar during World War II when whiskey was hard to come by. The name for the drink came from the glass it is served in that resembles a hurricane lamp.

Recipe: Combine 2 ounces of light rum, 2 ounces of dark rum, 2 ounces of passion fruit juice, 1 ounce of orange juice, ½ ounce of fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon of simple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of grenadine and shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cheery and orange slice.


In Good Spirits: Exploring New Orleans' Iconic Cocktails
Sazerac House. Photo Credit- Stephen Young &

Only since June 23, 2008, The Sazerac has been the official cocktail of New Orleans. The name of the drink comes from the drink’s inventor Antoine Amédé Peychaud’s favourite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils. Somewhere along the line, American Rye-whiskey was substituted for the cognac, and, in 1873, bartender Leon Lamothe added a dash of Absinthe. But following the ban, Peychaud’s special bitters were substituted in its place.

Recipe: This recipe requires 1 cube sugar, 1½ oz. Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon, ¼ oz. Herbsaint, 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters, and lemon peel. Pack one old-fashioned glass with ice. In another, crush a sugar cube with Peychaud’s Bitters, add Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon, then coat the first glass with Herbsaint, strain the mixture, and garnish with lemon peel.

Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz is a classic at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans, La., September 1, 2004. (CHERYL GERBER PHOTOS)

Henry C. Ramos first concocted the cocktail in New Orleans at his bar in the Meyer’s Table D’Hotel Internationale back in 1888 which became very famous. Later, he sold the rights to this drink to the Roosevelt Hotel where you can still enjoy it today.

Recipe: Add the contents of 3 dashes lemon juice, 2 dashes lime juice, 3 dashes orange flower water, 1 1/4 oz. dry gin, 1/4 of the white of one egg, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, 3 oz. milk to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake very well until good and frothy, and strain into a cocktail tumbler. Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.

Absinthe Frappé

Absinthe Frappé, Photo Credit- Rebecca Todd &

The concoction, created at the Old Absinthe House bar in New Orleans in 1874 by Cayetano Ferrer, attracted patrons like Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, and General Robert E. Lee. Absinthe’s ban in 1912 led to substitutes like Pernod and Herbsaint until its revival in 2007.

Recipe: Mix 1 1/2 oz. Absinthe, 1/2 oz. simple syrup, 2 oz. soda water, and 6–8 mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and pour.

Café Brulot Diabolique

James making Cafe Brulot – Arnaud’s Restaurant – French Quarter

Café Brulot Diabolique, or “Devilishly Burned Coffee,” was invented at Antoine’s Restaurant in the late 1880s by Jules Alciatore, the son of the restaurant’s founder. According to Phillip Collier’s Mixing New Orleans, Alciatore was inspired by French bon vivants who would drown a sugar cube in Cognac and place it over an open flame before extinguishing it in a cup of hot coffee.

Recipe: Combine 2 sticks of cinnamon, 8 whole cloves, the peel of 1 lemon, and 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar with 3 oz. of brandy in a fireproof bowl. Heat the mixture on an open flame until the brandy is hot but not boiling, then ignite it and carefully stir for 2 minutes. Finally, pour 3 cups of strong black coffee into the flaming brandy mixture, then ladle the concoction into demitasse cups for a dramatic and aromatic experience.

Also Read: The Ultimate 5-Day New Orleans Itinerary: A Journey for all Ages

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary, Photo Credit- Justen Williams, 343 Media, &

Bloody Mary or Creole Mary is one of the most popular drinks in New Orleans. Although the Bloody Mary is thought to have been created in Paris at Harry’s New York Bar in the early 1920s, the invention of Bloody Bull, made with beef bouillon instead of tomato juice, is attributed to Brennan’s circa 1950 in the French Quarter.

Recipe: Combine 1 cup of vodka, 4-1/2 cups of chilled tomato juice, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 4-6 dashes of Tabasco hot sauce. Season with celery salt and black pepper to taste for a classic Bloody Mary cocktail. For garnish: celery stalks and lime slices – and your choice of pickled okra, asparagus, string beans, etc.

Vieux Carre

Vieux Carre, Photo Credit- Justen Williams, 343 Media, &

A Vieux Carre is a classic New Orleans cocktail that embodies the same timeless simplicity as the world-famous French Quarter neighbourhood after which it was named. Created in 1938 by the historic Hotel Monteleone’s head bartender Walter Bergeron, the cocktail’s effortless execution includes part whiskey, part cognac, vermouth, and an assortment of bitters.

Recipe: Combine ¾ ounce each of Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, and Berto Red Vermouth, along with ½ ounce of Benedictine Liqueur and 1-2 dashes each of Angostura and Peychaud’s Bitters in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir well and serve in a classic cocktail glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon peel or cherry.

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