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Few American neighborhoods are as mythologized in cocktail culture as the French Quarter. This tiny, square mile of real estate looms large on the spirits stage and with good reason. Its past is a journey through America’s love-affair with alcohol.

The Grande Dame of New Orleans Neighborhoods

The French Quarter, or Vieux Carré, is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. In 1721, royal engineer Adrien de Pauger designed the iconic layout, naming the streets after French royalty and Catholic saints.  Founded as a port city, from its start, the Quarter has attracted all types of transients, travelers, and those of dubious character searching for a drink.

The Birth of the Sazerac

Enter a young pharmacist by the name of Antoine Amédée Peychaud. Arriving from San Domingo, Peychaud quickly opened an apothecary shop. By 1832 his iconic blends of bitters he used in various elixirs had developed a loyal and faithful following.

By the 1850’s, Peychaud was combining his bitters at the Original Sazerac House with his favorite imported French brandy – Sazerac-de-Forge et fils and the original Sazerac Cocktail was born. The classic Sazerac we enjoy today, with rye whiskey instead of brandy, came later, when a shortage of the imported brandy necessitated the switch.

From these humble origins, American cocktail culture was born, and with it, the historical importance of the French Quarter as an incubator and celebrator of all things alcohol.

The Unofficial “Liquor Capital of America”

The view of the quarter as a haven for good times and strong drink was reaffirmed during the Prohibition era. With the passing of the 18th Amendment, the Quarter became the epicenter of alcohol consumption, not just in New Orleans, but for throngs of thirsty Americans looking to sneak a drink. Bootlegging and speakeasys sprung up to meet the insatiable demand, and New Orleans Laisses-faire attitude towards prohibition enforcement made the Quarter the go-to spot to find a drink.

Throw in a burgeoning jazz scene, and the term “roaring” may have been a bit of an understatement about the atmosphere in the Quarter in the 20’s. It’s said the when the Treasury Department sent their most decorated agent to New Orleans to help quell the flow of alcohol, it took him less that 30 seconds of being in town before the taxi driver who picked him up at the train station offered him a drink.

Raising a Glass to the Go-Cup

Whether true or simply apocryphal, that Treasury agent’s story highlights the attitude and tolerance the French Quarter has always brought to raising a glass and having some fun. And that spirit lives on today.

The 1960’s may not be the most glamorous era in the Quarters history, but for today’s visitors it might just be the most important. By that time, the jazz joints and burlesque shows along Bourbon St. had fallen on hard times and the crowds had begun to move on.

Enter the go cup. While other American cities were banning public consumption of alcohol, Bourbon St. vendors began selling drinks out their windows to bolster sales. Instead of outlawing the practice, local officials embraced the idea. They created a statute that limited outside sales to plastic containers and, voilà, the go-cup was born, and the Quarter was re-invigorated. Today the go-cup is a venerable New Orleans institution. The ability to enjoy a cocktail as you stroll the Quarter’s historic streets is a quintessential New Orleans experience.

So, the next time you find yourself in our fair city, we encourage you to pay homage to the Quarter and all its quirky glory and enjoy your favorite beverage at a bar or, even better, as you walk along the street.

And if the spirit so moves you, we invite to join us at the Sazerac House, where you can sample, sip, and explore your way through the stories, legends, and spirits that have helped make the Quarter what it is today.

Cheers!




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.