Here are the most famous New Orleans cocktails that come from The Big Easy! This city’s cocktail culture is second to none.
There’s nothing quite like the food and wine scene in New Orleans! The Big Easy is home to some of the country’s greatest food traditions, and the cocktail culture is second to none. Several great drinks have risen to the top and solidified themselves as classics.
Here are the top most popular New Orleans cocktails to try! There’s the boozy Sazerac, with its surprising black licorice finish, milk punch with its creamy sweetness, and the ever popular fruity Hurricane. Want to make them all? Let’s get started.
Here’s a boozy classic New Orleans cocktail is one of the all time greats! The Sazerac is a low ball cocktail made with Cognac or rye whiskey, absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters. If you love boozy drinks like the Old Fashioned, this one’s for you. It's got a surprise element: absinthe gives a black licorice finish to each sip! This outlawed liquor is now back in good graces (since 2007, at least), and it’s good reason to try this famous slow sipper.
History: This drink dates back to the mid 1800's. Some sources state the Sazerac was invented as early as 1838 by New Orleans apothecary Antoine Peychaud. Others claim that the owner of the Sazerac Coffee House, Aaron Bird, created the drink in the 1850’s.
It’s fruity and extra boozy: meet the Hurricane! The Hurricane is a classic New Orleans cocktail made with light and dark rum, passion fruit syrup, lime, and grenadine. The passion fruit gives it a tropical nuance, and a hint of grenadine gives it extra sweetness and a rosy-golden color. It’s a unique rum cocktail that’s festive and fun!
History: The Hurricane was invented by Pat O’Brien in the 1940's, owner of the popular Pat O’Brien’s bar in New Orleans. Pat created the drink to use up a surplus of rum and served it in a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp. It was an instant hit, and remains a classic to this day.
Here’s an over-the-top impressive New Orleans cocktail: the Ramos Gin Fizz! The impossibly tall frothy topping and tangy burst of lime, lemon and orange blossom water makes it taste just like a lemon meringue pie. We didn't think anything could beat the classic Gin Fizz. But one sip of this one, and you’ll realize just how special this drink is.
History: The Ramos gin fizz is a variation on the gin fizz, invented in New Orleans in 1888 by a bartender named Henry Ramos. Invented at his bar the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, it was originally called the New Orleans Fizz. It took a whopping 12 minutes to shake up back in the day (not so, today).
It’s glowing green, it’s rich and creamy, and it’s delightfully mint chocolate. Yes, it’s everyone’s favorite: the Grasshopper! Turns out, this classic cocktail has more history than you’d expect. And the traditional version of this drink doesn’t call for ice cream, either! Shake this classy, creamy after-dinner drink in a cocktail shaker and strain it into a martini glass. One creamy, mint chocolate sip and you’ll be sold.
History: The Grasshopper was invented in New Orleans in 1918 by the owner of the bar Tujague’s, or so the story goes. According to Tujague’s, Philip Guichet invented it for a cocktail competition in New York City, where it got second place. He brought it back to his bar and Tujague’s has been serving it ever since.
The Vieux Carre is a unique classic cocktail comes from New Orleans: the name means “French Quarter” in French. It’s strong and alcohol forward, made with not one but two types of bitters. The complex flavor is ideal for whiskey lovers who love to relax with a slow sipper in hand. It’s essentially a fancy Manhattan: starring rye whiskey and vermouth like the standard drink, but adding quite a bit of extras.
History: The Vieux Carré cocktail comes from the 1930’s: it was created in the New Orleans’ Hotel Monteleone by a bartender named Walter Bergeron. He named it after the French Quarter, called Vieux Carre. The drink was first printed in a cocktail book in 1937.
The La Louisiane cocktail 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? It's made with rye whiskey, absinthe, vermouth and Benedictine, which gives it more complexity in flavor. 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!
History: 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.
Here’s New Orleans cocktail that surprises you with its complex, creamy flavor: Milk Punch! This tasty drink is one of the oldest cocktails there is, featuring brandy, bourbon, milk and sugar. It’s a popular brunch drink in New Orleans and in the American South. And the concept sounds baffling until you try it. Then you realize the genius of it: the creamy, cool milk against the spice of the brandy and the nuance of vanilla extract.
History: This drink was first written down in 1688 in Scotland! How’s that for history? The first mention in a cookbook was in 1711. Benjamin Franklin even recorded a version of it in 1763. The drink was not invented in New Orleans, but it's become a mainstay at restaurants in the city.
Here’s how to make a Sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans! Cognac, whiskey and absinthe make up this famous drink that tastes like no other.
3–4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 sugar cube
1 teaspoon absinthe
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) Cognac
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) rye whiskey
In a mixing glass, add the sugar cube and coat it with the bitters. Muddle the sugar cube with a cocktail muddler or wooden spoon until mostly dissolved. Add the Cognac, rye whiskey and absinthe and fill the mixing glass with a handful of ice.
Stir until cold. Strain the drink into a chilled low ball glass.
Use a knife to remove a 1″ wide strip of the lemon peel. Squeeze the lemon peel into the drink to release the oils. Gently run the peel around the edge of the glass, then place it in the glass and serve.
Keywords: New Orleans Cocktails
Looking for more cocktails outside of these New Orleans cocktails? Here are some of our favorite collections:
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.