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Mar 5, 2012 04:56 AM

Best Sazerac in New Orleans?

I realize this may be considered off-topic, but I wanted to know what people's opinions are about my favorite New Orleans cocktail...

I first had one at Galatoire's (and though my food experience there was not too great, that cocktail was delicious!), then ordered them everywhere. Old Absinthe House's is usually my mainstay. Commander's Palace made a great one, but I admit I usually go for the 25 cent martinis while there for lunch. Emeril's made a decent one. I know I've had them at random places around the Quarter.

Here is the crazy thing...the best one I've had lately was in Philadelphia, at a place called Farmer's Cabinet... Granted, I haven't been to New Orleans since 2010.

So. Have I missed something amazing? I like to walk in and walk out with my cocktail, unless I'm having food at the same time. I am a little scared of fancy cocktail bars as I don't know what I am supposed to wear to such places.

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  1. The attire at the cocktail bars is the same as at most of the restaurants...good taste. A jacket for menis nice but not mandatory.

    As for the best, they are mostly all good. If you like Sazeracs so much of course go to the Sazerac at the Roosevelt and then to the gift shop and buy a Sazerac glass that says...Sazerac on the side. Chris McMillan next door at the Bar Uncommon (Pere Marquette Hotel) also makes a very good drink.

    12 Replies
    1. re: collardman

      Here is a conundrum I bet you could assist with: my boyfriend loves beer. Like not miller lite college boy loves beer, but visits breweries/makes his own/tries new stuff all the time. Is there a bar that serves both great cocktails AND has an excellent beer menu? For his sake, I'd love to know about beer only places as well.

      1. re: peachacid

        Great beer in NOLA is remarkably easy to come by. For breadth of selection (and properly maintained taps!) both the Avenue Pub and Cooter Brown's come to mind. Local brews (LA 31, Abita, NOLA, Tin Roof) are often featured--with good reason--in places with only a couple of taps.

        It had been the case that good cocktails were more difficult to find; however, that sad situation has been changing (I credit the craft cocktail movement in general and the Tales of the Cocktail conference in particular for that). Anyway, my favorite Sazerac is at Tujagues on Decatur. As collerdman said, the Sazarac bar at the Roosevelt is a winner as are those at the Carousel bar. Unless you like them particularly sweet I'd not recommend the Napoleon House, which is sad: they do put effort into making them, they're always just too syrupy for my taste. The French 75 bar's version is solid.

        Though I haven't had a Saz at either place (that I remember anyway...), both Tonique (in the Quarter) and Cure (on Feret St. -- a cab ride) make well balanced, interesting drinks. If I remember correctly, Cure has them at Happy Hour for cheap-ish money and Tonique has them on special one day a week. Both places have a well curated beer program, though I couldn't swear either has draft beer--just bottles I think.

        As for attire, it really depends. I'm perfectly comfortable walking into Tonique or Tujagues in shorts in the afternoon but the other places i mentioned (and those two in the evening) are more comfortable wearing something less casual. The jeans, oxford, blazer, real shoes look for guys is easy and works well. (The "real shoes" is important ... sneakers or--god forbid--sandals on men almost always sets the wrong tone.)

        In general, I think that if you're dressed as though you mean it (as opposed to dressed in something that is only mostly clean, mostly not ripped, and mostly ironed) you'll do just fine.

        1. re: peachacid

          Good beer and great cocktails: Twelve Mile Limit.

          Also check out local beer blogs:,, (Full disclosure: the first one is mine and I contribute regularly to the second.) If you search on the tag "beer tourism" on there's a bunch of posts about good beer bars and restaurants with good beer selections broken down by neighborhood. (tag cloud is at the bottom of the page)

          1. re: noradeirdre

            Hey, nice ... is a great blog; that's how I first learned about the Avenue Pub. I like your gold, sliver, bronze rating system (and think your choices are spot on).

        2. re: collardman

          I agree with the Sazerac Bar! For those who don't know, though, this is NOT the little bar next to the hotel called the "Roosevelt Bar" which does not have a good Sazerac...

          I also had a great Sazerac at Herbsaint, a nice restaurant in the CBD, a few minutes' walk from the Sazerac Bar. They made it with Willett instead of Sazerac. And it's even cheaper than most Sazeracs in town.

          Someone mentioned the Old Absinthe House... please never get it there! Or any other Bourbon St. establishment. I made that mistake... they put it in a plastic cup, they used Old Overholt, and they charged $10 or $12 for it. At least they used Herbsaint, the proper pastis, though one might have expected absinthe at the Old Absinthe House. A crappy bar... avoid...

          As for Chris McMillian, I was very much hoping to order a drink from him. I learned how to make a lot of cocktails by watching his youtube videos. But when I called Bar Uncommon (this was 2 weeks ago), they said he no longer works there. And of course they didn't want to tell me where he works now. :( Does anyone know where he works now?

          1. re: Danila

            Old Absinthe House can be a dramatically different experience depending on the season. We had some very memorable experiences there in June a few years back, including an awesome sazerac in a real glass. But it can also be a madhouse. And definitely watch your valuables there!

            Also, Old Overholt is a perfectly respectable sazrac rye! In fact, it's what went into my favorite sazerac of the last trip at Tujague's.

            1. re: kukubura

              I'm surprised to hear that! As for Old Overholt, well, I'd take Baby Saz, Rittenhouse BIB, or Wild Turkey over it any day! In fact, this discussion inspired me to make a nice Ritt sazerac last night (in a Sazerac Bar glass, of course) which was delicious. :)

              But next time I'm there, I'll have to stop by Tujague's

              1. re: Danila

                Rittenhouse is another classic. But Old Overlholt is definitely common. Frankly, I'll drink anything that comes from a bottle with a picture of an old man on it, preferably one with a beard or muttonchops.

                1. re: kukubura

                  Hahaha, I can't argue with that criterion!

            2. re: Danila

              Did you ask them to use Willett or did they volunteer it? This is a wonderful bourbon on it's own - I feel guilty even adding ice. I whole-heartedly agree with your criticism of the Old Absinthe House. A good Sazerac has no place in a plastic cup.

              1. re: j.ho

                I actually asked what they used in their sazerac, and my friendly waitress said Willett rye. I was really surprised! I've heard good things about the bourbon, but I haven't tried it yet.

            3. The original comment has been removed
              1. Try FEELINGS. Great sazerac and great bar.

                1. The best Sazerac in New Orleans is at Tujague's. Paul and Michael both do an excellent job. Even if you want to take it with you, however, it must first be served in the glass as coating the glass with herbsaint is an essential part of the cocktail. Also, for your boyfriend, Tujague's still serves the usual bottled beers, but al of their draft beer is from local breweries.

                  P.S. Don't know what days you're in N.O. but on Fridays at 2pm NOLA Brewery has a "tour," so you can show up and start sampling their wares at about 1:45. Have fun!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rouxdauphine

                    CH deleted my comment because I linked to a blog post with lots of pics (gee, sorry) but I agree about Tujague's. That was my favorite out of the half-dozen or so that I had, although all were great.

                    1. re: Littleman

                      Herbsaint and Cure are my favorites.

                      1. re: sanglier

                        I second Herbsaint and also vote for Carousel Bar and I'll add Cochon to the mix. We're targeting Sazerac Bar before dinner at MiLa the second Friday of JF....can't wait to try the Saz there! Also have heard great things about Tujaque's in previous posts and have them on my list for this trip as well.
                        To the OP - they make a decent Saz at the Oyster House in Philly. Also my wife and I love Galatoire's but theirs was my least favorite Sazerac. Too much bitters and what's up with the ice? I may have to try it again this year and just ask for it sans ice.

                        1. re: j.ho

                          Just tell your waiter how you want it. I liked Galatoire's drinks better when the waiters made them. You had to know which one could make a good martini or sazerac or whatever. You can still get some of them to whip something up.

                          1. re: j.ho

                            Agreed, Gal's Saz is bright red from too much Peychaud's.

                            By the way I just ordered this new book "Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas."