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You can’t think of New Orleans without thinking of daiquiris, sno-balls and, obviously, cocktails. But getting your favorite drink served on the rocks used to be a luxury. In fact, just getting ice was a feat in and of itself. Thanks to some clever businessmen, a few creative bartenders and a lot of thankful customers, ice became a necessity and helped the Sazerac–and New Orleans–become what it is today.

The Ice Age Begins, So to Speak

How do you get ice in the sweltering summers of New Orleans? You get imaginative. At least, that’s what businessman Frederic Tudor did in the mid-1800s. The story goes that he had ice cream that was so good, he decided the rest of the world needed a taste, too. Or maybe he just wanted to make a lot of money. Either way, his methods of shipping and storage paved the way for ice to reach places like New Orleans like never before.

By the 1850s, Frederic Tudor was shipping 50,000 tons of ice all over the world, and New Orleans was getting its fair share of shipments. That’s why the city started investing heavily in local ice houses. Think of them as warehouse-sized storage sheds for ice that could store and ship ice throughout the rest of the city. Once New Orleans had access to more and more ice, it became less of a luxury. Now, it was just a matter of deciding what to do with it.

Cocktails on the Rocks

Orsamus Willard was a bartender in New York in the early 1800s. He was one of the first “celebrity” bartenders that used ice in more creative ways, making it more of a feature than an afterthought. Soon, it was commonplace for patrons to order their drinks on the rocks. But not everyone liked having ice in their drinks, especially when it came to a New Orleans favorite: the Sazerac Cocktail.

To prevent the feeling of ice hitting their teeth, patrons started drinking cocktails from straws. But the Sazerac was best enjoyed straight up. So, bartenders started chilling the glass and straining out the ice. Over 150 years later, it’s still served the same way.

By the 20th century, the quality of ice dropped dramatically. But it was also a lot cheaper and accessible. People bought their own refrigerators and started making drinks in blenders instead of by hand. That got us some good daiquiris in New Orleans, but it hurt the artfully crafted cocktail business.

The Art of Ice Returns

Now, we’re back to enjoying cocktails the way they were meant to be enjoyed. Bartenders are using the older tools of the trade and cutting their own ice with mallets and ice saws to get perfect, crystal clear cubes. But you still won’t find a cube of ice in a Sazerac anywhere in New Orleans–just as it was meant to be.




Events


Two bartenders pouring cocktail creations in front of a display bottle wall at the Sazerac House

“Global Grooves & Spirits” Featuring The World of 375 Park Avenue...

Monday, July 22, 2024
11:00 am - 6:00 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail: Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Monday: Step into a symphony of global flavors taking over Sazerac House. The spirits of the 375 Park Ave. Collection explore the flavors and sounds of Ireland (Dunville), Japan (Kaiyo & Mizu), Scotland (Cutty Sark), Brazil (Novo Fogo), and more. Over four floors these global influences converge, weaving a tapestry of culture and flavor that celebrates the rich diversity of our world.

Bartender pouring a cocktail

Bartenders Society Cocktail Competition

Monday, July 22, 2024
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

For the first time ever – the US finals of The Bartender’s Society Cocktail Competition will be hosted live at Tales of the Cocktail! Sazerac House presents the 2024 edition: “Mixology of the Future” - taking place in the 4th floor, Imperial Cabinet Saloon. Guests will be invited to sample each of the cocktails and cheer on their favorite finalists! Lite bites will be served. Entry is admitted on a first come, first serve basis.

“Brass, Beats & Bourbon” Featuring the Sazerac Portfolio Brands

Tuesday, July 23, 2024
11:00 am - 6:00 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail... Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Tuesday: Which is more iconic? New Orleans music or New Orleans cocktail culture? Today, you don’t have to decide as we meld the two iconically-New Orleans traditions together. Experience classic offerings from the Sazerac Portfolio as the Sazerac House comes alive with the vibrant sounds of New Orleans, setting the perfect backdrop for a day of NOLA-centric experiences! Enjoy the distinctive character of Sazerac Rye, the smooth elegance of Wheatley Vodka, the rich depth of Buffalo Trace, the tropical allure of Myers’s Rum, and the bold flavors of Fireball. These beloved brands will elevate your cocktail experience, perfectly paired with the soulful brass beats filling the air. 

Drew Mayville Master Class: Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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As a part of Tales of the Cocktail... Join Buffalo Trace Distillery’s Master Distiller, Drew Mayville, and Archivist, Nick Laracuente, for a rare opportunity to sample the complete Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC). THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT!

Three bottles of Premium Agave Spirits displayed on an oak bar, shown during Tales of the Cocktail at the Sazerac House.

“Rhythms of Agave” Featuring Sazerac Premium Agave Portfolio

Wednesday, July 24, 2024
11:00 am - 6:00 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail... Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Wednesday: Dive into the lively world of agave spirits paired with the electrifying rhythms of Reggaeton. The Sazerac House will transform into a fiesta of flavors and beats, celebrating the rich heritage of agave spirits with a modern twist. This special day will showcase an array of exquisite agave-based cocktails featuring the depth and complexity of premium tequilas and mezcals, including Mango Shotta – Sazerac's newest innovation, a tequila-based shot combining bold mango and spicy jalapeño, perfect for the summer.

Mango Shotta Cocktail Competition

Wednesday, July 24, 2024
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail... We’ve held a nationwide contest, inviting bartenders to show us how they “Paint the Town Mango”. We’re inviting the top five contenders to show up at the Sazerac House for a showdown during Tales of the Cocktail for their chance to be crowned the Top Dog. Attendees are invited to the Imperial Cabinet Saloon to sample each of these spicy and sweet concoctions while enjoying our hosted taco bar. #inourspicyera

DJ and Vinyl Albums

Cocktails & Vinyl featuring “In Our Lifetime” a collaborative Rec...

Thursday, July 25, 2024
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

As a part of Tales of The Cocktail... Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Thursday: Some of our favorite moments in hospitality are when the two crucial captains from local establishments, the bartender and the DJ, are in perfect harmony. Sazerac House proudly hosts the debut of “In Our Lifetime,” a record made in collaboration between Sazerac and Turning Tables. This special event features Geoffrey Wilson playing select songs from his 45 collection and tracks from “In Our Lifetime” alongside a pop-up with San Diego mainstay Part Time Lover. The featured record features 13 songs, each paired with a unique cocktail crafted by 13 influential bartenders. These bespoke creations will be showcased alongside the custom vinyl record, available upon donation to Turning Tables.

“Last Stop Lounge: House Revival” Featuring 375 Park Avenue Spirits

Friday, July 26, 2024
12:30 pm - 3:30 pm

As a part of Tales of the Cocktail: Join Sazerac House in celebrating the fusion of spirits, culture, and music during Tales of the Cocktail 2024. Throughout the week, Sazerac House will host over 40 legendary Sazerac brands against the backdrop of live music and fun. Admission and tastings are always free. Don’t miss out! Close out your week as strong as you started it - with the infectious beats and classic spirits that define the Last Stop Lounge! Explore the iconic Irish Coffee, perfected by New York’s Dead Rabbit and their global whiskey selection. Keep the house bumping and your heart pumping with Bloody Marys, Corpse Revivers, and the many brunch cocktails you’ve come to love.