All photos by Maggie Kimberl.
There’s so much more to imbibing in New Orleans beyond the iconic Bourbon Street, and a multitude of reasons for you to visit New Orleans especially if you are a lover of American whiskey. There are plenty of great jazz clubs with fabulous bourbon selections, but if you really love bourbon or rye, here’s a list of the five things you don’t want to miss on your next trip to New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Bourbon could have been named for New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. According to bourbon historian Michael Veach, the whiskey was originally put into charred new oak barrels so that it could be more like the French spirits people were drinking in New Orleans, which was a major destination for all that corn whiskey that was being made at the time in Kentucky. It became so popular that perhaps at one point people started requesting “some of that Bourbon Street whiskey” and the name just stuck. It’s a theory set forth in Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage.
- The New Orleans Bourbon Festival may have just concluded its first year, but this annual festival will
be back every March. Considering all the history that is shared between Louisville and New Orleans, it’s just crazy this hasn’t happened sooner. The festival features grand tastings, blind consumer whiskey judging, and dozens of seminars on topics ranging from bourbon and cigar pairings to women in bourbon. There are also opportunities to rub elbows with Master Distillers, brand ambassadors, and fellow bourbon enthusiasts. In attendance for the inaugural festivities were Jim Beam’s Fred Noe, Wild Turkey’s Eddie Russell, and Heaven Hill’s Bernie Lubbers.
- The Avenue Pub is consistently rated as one of New Orleans’ best whiskey bars, not only by the locals but by national media as well. And if you’ve ever ventured up the brightly painted staircase in the evening to be greeted by a wall of whiskeys you would know why this place is a destination for whiskey geeks. (Editor’s note: We’re also big fans of Barrel Proof whiskey bar.)
The Museum of the American Cocktail is small, but if you truly understand what you are looking at there are some real gems. The cocktail shaker collection includes a stainless steel one in the shape of an airplane, while there are bitters and absinthe bottles dating back to Peychaud’s early days in New Orleans. There are also several Prohibition-era medicinal bourbon bottles, and if you round the corner you’ll find a whole case full of ceramic whiskey bottles in half-pint sizes – a true rarity. Cocktails have always figured heavily into American drinking culture, and it’s interesting to be able to see how that culture has evolved over the decades.
The Sazerac Cocktail was originally concocted at the Roosevelt Hotel bar, and you can still visit what is called The Sazerac Bar in the hotel today to find one. And very soon you will be able to visit the Sazerac House, a cocktail and beverage alcohol museum currently being built by the Sazerac Company at the corner of Magazine and Canal streets. It is expected to open in late 2018.
Whether you like your whiskey neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail, New Orleans is a great place for any American Whiskey lover!