The La Louisiane cocktail is an improvement on the Sazerac! Absinthe, rye whiskey and vermouth make this spirit-forward cocktail a stunner.

La Louisiane cocktail

If you love spirit-forward drinks like the Sazerac or a Manhattan: this one’s for you. The La Louisiane cocktail! This unique mixed drink is a classic cocktail from the 1800’s that most people have never heard of. It’s a lot like a Sazerac: but better. How? Well, it’s rounded out with more complexity in flavors: it’s herbal from Benedictine and lightly sweet from vermouth. And of course there’s absinthe, the historically banned liquor that adds a black licorice finish to each sip. This one’s something special: here’s how to whip one up.

What’s a La Louisiane cocktail?

The La Louisiane is a cocktail that hails from New Orleans, made with rye whiskey, absinthe, vermouth and Benedictine. The exact date La Louisiane appeared is unknown, but it was likely invented between 1880 and 1912, when absinthe was banned. It began as the house cocktail of the Restaurant La Louisiane in New Orleans.

You’ll also find this cocktail called De La Louisiane or Cocktail à la Louisiane. It’s very boozy, with a round, complex and strong flavor. The ingredients in the La Louisiane cocktail are:

  • Rye whiskey
  • Sweet vermouth
  • Benedictine
  • Absinthe
  • Peychaud’s bitters

Let’s talk through a few of these ingredients, shall we? The rye whiskey is pretty self explanatory. But Benedictine? Absinthe? Let’s get mixing.

Absinthe

The skinny on absinthe: is it worth buying?

So…absinthe. Is it part of your liquor cabinet? We’ll admit: it has a bad reputation. In fact, in our hundreds of cocktail recipes, we had been putting off grabbing a bottle of the stuff. Mostly it’s because it’s a niche spirit, but lingering in the back of my mind was: wasn’t it illegal at some point? Wasn’t it some kind of drug in the early 1900s? Don’t worry: absinthe is perfectly safe consumed in moderation. Here’s what to know:

  • Absinthe is a green anise-flavored spirit made from botanicals: wormwood, anise, fennel and other herbs. It was illegal in the US from 1912 to 2007. (Wow.)
  • What does absinthe taste like? It tastes herbal, with a strong black licorice finish. A little goes a long way with this stuff.
  • Is absinthe hallucinogenic? No! But this is why it was illegal in Europe and the US for years. It got massively popular in the 1840s, but a few years later started to be unfairly associated with violent crimes. Some claim this was made up by people backing the temperance movement. Whatever the case, people started to believe it: and bans ensued. But don’t worry: modern research has confirmed absinthe is no more harmful than any other alcohol. Read more about absinthe myths here!
  • Is it worth buying? Yes, if you’re an adventurous cocktail drinker! It’s in several classic absinthe cocktails like the Sazerac, Death in the Afternoon, and Corpse Reviver.

What is Benedictine, exactly?

Here’s the thing. With the La Louisiane you need not just one but two specialty liqueurs. (Well, and special bitters!) So what’s Benedictine?

Benedictine is an herbal liqueur made in France. It’s made with 27 different herbs, flowers, berries and spices, and was invented in the mid 1800’s. It’s sweetened with honey, and the flavor is lightly sweet and spiced. Benedictine is used in a few classic cocktails: the Singapore Sling and the Vieux Carre. It should be fairly easy to find at your local liquor store.

La Louisiane cocktail

And what are Peychaud’s bitters?

The last specialty ingredient you need for the La Louisiane cocktail: Peychaud bitters! What are they, and how are they different from Angostura bitters?

  • Peychaud’s bitters: These bitters are a little less common, most popularly known for inclusion in the Sazerac cocktail. The flavor is a little sweeter than Angostura bitters (the most popular type of bitters you might already have on hand). The flavor has hints of anise and mint.

How to make a La Louisiane cocktail

Once you’ve gathered up all the ingredients, making the La Louisiane cocktail itself is a breeze! Here’s how to make it:

  • Stir together all ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass. Why not a shaker like most cocktails? Shaking in a cocktail shaker dilutes the drink: and for this one, you want it to be straight booze.
  • Don’t have one? Use any glass or container you like to mix the drink, then strain it into the serving glass. But if you want to look like someone who knows their cocktails, grab yourself a cocktail mixing glass. (Plus, it just looks cool.)
La Louisiane cocktail

There are a few drinks that are very similar to the La Louisiane that have a similar birth place: New Orleans! Two popular New Orleans cocktails have marked similarities:

  • Sazerac: The Sazerac is like a simpler La Louisiane: but it came first! It was invented in 1838, and features simply rye whiskey, absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters. It’s simple and classic.
  • Vieux Carre: The Vieux Carre is very similar to the La Louisiane: it also includes sweet vermouth, Benedictine and Peychaud’s bitters! But it’s got Cognac along with the rye whiskey, and they’re equal parts with the vermouth.

Another New Orleans drink? Try cold and creamy Milk Punch.

When to serve a La Louisiane cocktail

The La Louisiane is a sophisticated and spirit-forward cocktail. Only serve it to people who love boozy drinks! It’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
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La Louisiane cocktail

La Louisiane Cocktail


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The La Louisiane cocktail is an improvement on the Sazerac! Absinthe, rye whiskey and vermouth make this spirit-forward cocktail a stunner.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) rye whiskey
  • 1 ounces (2 tablespoons) sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons)  Benedictine
  • 1 teaspoon absinthe
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • For the garnish: Luxardo cherries

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail mixing glass (or any other type of glass). Fill the mixing glass with 1 handful ice and stir continuously for 30 seconds until very cold.
  2. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: La Louisiane

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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