Museum of the American Cocktail – New Orleans, Louisiana - Atlas Obscura
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New Orleans, Louisiana

Museum of the American Cocktail

If New Orleans is the birthplace of the "cocktail," why does their own museum of cocktail memorabilia beg to differ? 

They say that New Orleans is the home of the first cocktail, and those who have visited find it hard to argue. Who is “they,” you ask? Why, New Orleans of course.

The first official cocktail, a little libation that went by the name “The Sazerac,” was a concoction of French brandy, water, sugar and bitters, and was allegedly dreamt up by a man named Antoine Peychaud in an apothecary shop in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The legend of the early mixologist and his signature drink lives on to this day, the spread of the story encouraged by the tourist industry and state legislature (The Sazerac is New Orleans’ official cocktail) but like many things in this mysterious city, the tale has some smoke and mirrors, and facts have been… embellished.

It’s a little strange for the curators of the Museum of the American cocktail to deny the fact, especially when they have a newspaper clipping from 1806 that contains the first use of the word ″cocktail″ in America, which is considered the a holy relic for mixologists and cocktail affecinados. However, one of the curators of the museum, Phil Greene, is a direct descendent of Antoine Peychaud. While he believes that his crafty relative Peychaud was quite the clever fellow, it would have been impossible for him to invent the cocktail in 1806 since he was only three at the time.

However and wherever the cocktail originated, the Museum of the American Cocktail has been recording and celebrating the history and evolution of the cocktail through the years. The museum was originally a traveling exhibit going from New York to Las Vegas, but it finally found a permanent resting place inside of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum on the New Orleans waterfront. The museum contains a variety of cocktail and bar memorabilia from antique cocktail shakers, cups, and bottles, to pro- and anti-prohibition propoganda.

While it might seem like a place where you could get a drink, the museum does not have a bar on the premises. They do, however, host events and mixology seminars that include alcohol.

Know Before You Go

Inside the Southern Food and Beverage Museum