Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | February 23, 2012

Classic New Orleans Cocktails for Mardi Gras

Originally posted at

New Orleans is one of America’s greatest cities for fine food and drink. Unfortunately Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras is not the best example of what NOLA has to offer. If you’ve grown past sickeningly sweet Hand Grenades but still want to enjoy a taste of New Orleans this Mardi Gras, check out the following classics. Happy Fat Tuesday!


The Sazerac is one of my favorite cocktails in the world and one of the oldest American cocktails, dating to the first half of the 19th century. If you’ve never had it, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, especially if you’re a fan of whiskey cocktails like an Old Fashioned.


  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 3 oz rye
  • 2 dashes absinthe


Fill a small rocks glass with ice and allow it to chill. Empty the ice into a second rocks glass. In the first glass, add the syrup, bitters and whiskey and stir. Pour the contents of the first glass into the ice filled second glass. Pour the absinthe into the first glass and twirl the glass (preferably in the air with great enthusiasm) to coat it well. Discard the remaining absinthe. Strain the contents of the second glass into the absinthe-rinsed first glass. Garnish with a lemon peel twisted over the top of the glass.

Vieux Carre

Another really great cocktail – a bit more complex than the Sazerac, at least as far as the ingredients go. It is native to New Orleans’ Monteleone Hotel, whose Carousel Lounge slowly revolves around the bar.


  • 3/4 oz rye
  • 3/4 oz brandy (I prefer with cognac)
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz Benedictine
  • Dash Peychaud’s bitters
  • Dash Angostura bitters


Build over ice in an old fashioned glass.

Cocktail a la Louisiane

The a la Louisane is a 20th Century New Orleans cocktail, though it clearly takes its cues from the Sazerac and has a lot in common with the Vieux Carre. Taken together, these three New Orleans drinks represent the very best of classic cocktails have to offer.


  • 3/4 oz. rye
  • 3/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 3 dashes absinthe
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters


Stir with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.



  1. Thank you for featuring the Vieux Carré and sharing the recipe with your followers. Let us know next time you are in town sipping one at the Carousel Bar!

    • My pleasure. I love the Carousel Bar, though I always leave a bit dizzy…

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