In 1838, Antoine Amadee Peychaud experimented with brandy, bitters, and an egg cup, called a coquetier in French (some maintain this is the origin of the word “cocktail”). Thus, the American cocktail was likely born…in New Orleans. Almost 170 years later, the Big Easy still serves this concoction, known as the Sazerac. The drink itself has seen a few changes, but New Orleans is still ground zero for the cocktail. Much has been written about this liquid history, and many are familiar with establishments that offer libations such as the Hurricane, Ramos Gin Fizz, or Mint Julep. Still, little attention has been paid to the folks who mix the proper ingredients and pass them across the bar. The men and women of New Orleans who carry on these traditions and serve the thirsty masses are the keepers of this history. Whether it’s the tableside performance of the CafĂ© Brulot or simply popping the cap off of an Abita, these folks are good at what they do, and they have been doing it for a long time. Books record cocktail recipes, but the history of drinking in New Orleans is standing just on the other side of the bar.

TAGS: alcohol, bartender, Bartenders of New Orleans, Bobby Oakes, cocktails, Floria Woodard, Gertrude Mayfield, Gilberto Eyzaguirre, Greg Cowman, John Strickland, Louisiana, Martin Sawyer, Michael Santucci, Michael Smith, O'Neil Broyard, Paul Gustings, XTRA: Bibliography and Links, XTRA: On the Radio, XTRA: Selected Drink Recipes