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It’s no coincidence that bourbon has the same name as Bourbon Street. Or is it? Debates have raged for years about how bourbon got its name. A small county in Kentucky, a royal family in France and, yes, our very own Bourbon Street all lay claim to the name. But which one was the drink named after? Let’s all fix a pour of bourbon and find out once and for all.

Theory #1: Named for the Bourbon Family

Before Bourbon was a drink, it was a dynasty. The House of Bourbon was a noble family that dates back to 13th century France. At the time, lots of companies attached the Bourbon family name to all kinds of products including Bourbon Coffee, Bourbon Sugar and so on. Having Bourbon in the name gave the products an aura of sophistication and allowed them to fetch higher prices. Not a bad business strategy.

It’s entirely possible that when barrels of bourbon started to make its way into places like New Orleans, they used the name Bourbon as a branding strategy like the coffees and sugars that came before it. The French roots of New Orleans give even more credence to this theory, but others are just as strong.

Verdict: It’s possible, but inconclusive

Theory #2: Named for Bourbon County, Kentucky

Bourbon County is a relatively small area of land outside of Lexington, Kentucky. But it used to take up most of what is now the northeastern part of the state. It’s also the place that makes and barrels tons of bourbon. Today, almost 95% of the world’s supply comes from Kentucky, much of it from this very county.

Need even more proof for Bourbon County’s claims? In the 1800s, a lot of spirits were named after the places they were made (we’re looking at you, Monongahela Rye from Pennsylvania). So, it’s easy to see that distillers might use the term bourbon as a catchall for a certain spirit that came from Kentucky—especially Bourbon County, Kentucky.

Verdict: It’s likely, but inconclusive

Theory #3: Named for Bourbon Street in New Orleans

Okay, this must be it, right? After all, Bourbon Street was one of the first places to enjoy bourbon in all its glory. And it’s where the spirit gained popularity like never before. Legend has it that before people called it bourbon, they referred to it as, “That whiskey drink on Bourbon Street.” Now, everyone associates Bourbon Street with imbibing and good times. So, Bourbon Street is what bourbon is named after. Right?

Actually, probably not. When bourbon was first getting its name, Bourbon Street was mostly residential. All of the lively festivities were happening a few blocks away on Royal Street and Gallatin. It wasn’t until later that Bourbon Street became a mainstay of drinks, dancing and everything else.

Verdict: It’s doubtful, but inconclusive

Final Verdict

So, what’s the real answer? In short, no one knows for certain. Most experts believe Bourbon County has the strongest claim to the founding of the drink’s name. But a lot of the references of bourbon still date all the way back to the House of Bourbon family. And Bourbon Street is practically synonymous with the drink nowadays.

Whichever theory you believe for how bourbon got its name—we can all agree that we’re glad it’s around to be enjoyed.




Events


Strike Down Social
Signature Events

Strike Down Social

Sunday, December 5, 2021
5:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Historical celebration of Repeal Day with a Prohibition-era cocktail tasting

Sips and Slices
Tastings

Sips & Slices: Cocktail and Pie Pairing with Bywater Bakery

Tuesday, December 7, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Pie and cocktail pairing hosted by Sazerac House cocktail experts and Bywater Bakery. This tasting features items that include nuts and nut products.

Sazerac Cocktail Tasting
Tastings

The Sazerac Cocktail Tasting

Wednesday, December 8, 2021
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

History and demonstration of the Sazerac Cocktail. Hosted by a Sazerac House Bar Expert.

Barrel to Bottle
Demonstrations

Barrel to Bottle

Sunday, December 12, 2021
5:00 pm - 5:45 pm

Bottle Your Own Sazerac Rye Whiskey hosted by House Distiller David Bock.

Cheers to Cheese Holiday
Tastings

Cheers to Cheese: Holiday Gatherings

Tuesday, December 14, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Cheese and cocktail pairing hosted by Sazerac House cocktail experts and St. James Cheese Company.

Signature Events

Sip and Shop

Tuesday, December 14, 2021
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Special Shopping Event with Gift Wrapping, Music and Cocktails.

Barrel to Bottle
Demonstrations

Barrel to Bottle

Wednesday, December 15, 2021
5:00 pm - 5:45 pm

Bottle Your Own Sazerac Rye Whiskey hosted by House Distiller David Bock.

Sazerac Cocktail Tasting
Tastings

The Sazerac Cocktail Tasting

Wednesday, December 15, 2021
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

History and demonstration of the Sazerac Cocktail. Hosted by a Sazerac House Bar Expert.

Cured & Aged
Tastings

Cured & Aged: Whiskey and Meats Pairing with Emmylou’s BBQ

Thursday, December 16, 2021
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

BBQ and Whiskey Tasting hosted by The Sazerac House and Emmylou's BBQ.

Creole Holiday Tradition
Seminars

Drink & Learn: Creole Holiday Traditions

Tuesday, December 21, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

New Orleans History Discussion and Cocktail Demo Hosted by Drinks Historian Elizabeth Pearce.

Sazerac Cocktail Tasting
Tastings

The Sazerac Cocktail Tasting

Wednesday, December 22, 2021
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

History and demonstration of the Sazerac Cocktail. Hosted by a Sazerac House Bar Expert.



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