Cocktails weren’t invented in New Orleans, but the city has become their adopted birthplace. The city’s relationship with mixed drinks dates to the 1830s when Antoine Amadie Peychaud, a Creole apothecary, combined a mixture of medicinal aromatic bitters with French brandy, sugar and water. The brandy was later replaced with Sazerac cognac, absinthe was added to the mixture and the Sazerac was born.
While locals may consider their native drink to be a Sazerac, tourists are more likely to think of New Orleans’ most famous drink as the Hurricane or the Hand Grenade. Owners of the Tropical Isle bar created the melon-flavored drink as their signature cocktail. The drink became a registered trademark in 1987.
Other drinks, including Brandy Crusta and Ramos Gin Fizz, were birthed in New Orleans, while others, including brandy milk punch, the French 75 and the Pimm’s Cup have been claimed and revised by locals as almost-native drinks.
New Orleans’ role in cocktail culture was cemented in 2002 when an annual gathering, called “Tales of the Cocktail,” began being held in the city. Then, in 2005, the Museum of the American Cocktail was opened in New Orleans and is now housed in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.