It’s debatable whether New Orleans is the birthplace of the cocktail. The word cocktail is said to have first appeared in a New York newspaper in 1806, long before Antoine Peychaud opened his apothecary shop in the French Quarter. Regardless, the city has always taken its drinking history very seriously and can lay claim and bragging rights to being the birthplace of the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz.
Enjoy these two classic cocktail recipes courtesy of The Roosevelt Hotel’s Sazerac Bar.
This is the official cocktail of New Orleans, just narrowly beating out the Ramos Gin Fizz. It wasn’t a simple task for the concoction to be crowned the Big Easy’s sanctioned adult beverage. It took the Louisiana Legislature 10 different votes, spread out over several debates and one long month to approve the designation.
The Sazerac waited over 150 years to win the honor. Credit for the drink goes to Antoine Amadie Peychaud. Back in the 1830s, he concocted a medicinal brew of aromatic bitters for soothing reasons at his French Quarter apothecary. To make it palatable, he mixed in other ingredients. It soon caught on and the Sazerac Coffee House began serving the drink, originally using cognac. Over time, the recipe has been tweaked, but Peychaud’s Bitters is still a key ingredient. Around 1870, when the Sazerac Coffee House changed hands, rye whiskey replaced cognac as the main spirit. And in 1912, when absinthe was outlawed, Herbsaint took its place. Now that absinthe has become available again, it can be used in the recipe.
Garnish: Lemon Twist
- 1.5 ounces rye whiskey
- 0.5 ounce simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
- Herbsaint, for rinse
1. Line a short rocks glass with Herbsaint, swirl it around the edges to give the inside of the glass a think coating, then discard the excess.
2. In a mixing glass add simple syrup, bitters, and rye, then add ice.
3. Stir until chilled and strain into the rocks glass.
4. Garnish: see note below regarding lemon peel.
Lemon Peel: some recipes suggest squeezing lemon peel oils into the drink and then throwing out the peel, others include dropping in the peel.
Absinthe: further, more recent original recipes call for absinthe.
Bitters: some have both Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, while others have just Peychaud’s.
Sugar: either a sugar cube is muddled with the bitters and then mixed or simple syrup is mixed in with the other ingredients. If you prefer a consistent sweetness throughout use simple syrup, but if you enjoy slight variations as you sip the drink, use a sugar cube.
Ramos Gin Fizz
The Ramos Gin Fizz was invented by Henry Ramos in 1888 at his own bar, the Imperial Cabinet Saloon in New Orleans. The Roosevelt bought the rights to the drink during Prohibition and trademarked the name. The drink is mix of gin, egg whites, cream, and citrus, but these need to be shaken hard until smooth and thickened, resulting in a cool, bright, refreshing cocktail with a delightfully frothy cap. There are differing stories, debates, and opinions on how long the shaking should take, but it’s at least a minute, until the mixture is thicken enough to hold a straw. All this effort, still doesn’t prevent thirsty patrons asking the bartenders at the Sazerac Bar to vigorously shake an astounding 20,000 Ramos Gin Fizzes a year.
Glassware: Narrow Highball Glass
Ice: Cracked for Shaking
Garnish: Lemon Twist
- 2 ounces gin (preferably Old Tom)
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- 1 egg white
- 0.5 ounce lemon juice
- 0.5 ounce lime juice
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 drops orange flower water
- Club soda, to top
1. Combine all ingredients, except the club soda, in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
2. Shake vigorously for several minutes until thickened enough to hold a straw.
3. Strain into the chilled glass.
4. Top with a splash of club soda.
Recipes courtesy of the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, LA.
THE SAZERAC BAR
The Roosevelt Hotel, 130 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112
Cover Photo Credit: Nan Palmero
Bring your New Orleans experience to life with our FED Mardi Gras Playlist on Spotify. It pairs well with your cocktails.