Vacant and abandoned for 30 years the Sazerac Company has turned what was a highly trafficked but unused corner of New Orleans French Quarter into the new Sazerac House. The newly renovated building on the corner of Canal Street and Magazine Street has gone from blight to delight and is now expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors a year from all over the world.
The Sazerac Company has a long history in New Orleans that dates back as far as the 1850s. The Sazerac House is located just a few hundred yards from the original 1850 Sazerac Coffee House—the site where the Sazerac Cocktail was first introduced and the company was born.
Whiskey fans will be quick to connect the dots with Sazerac Rye Whiskey. A whiskey produced by the Sazerac company’s distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky at the historic Buffalo Trace Distillery. In other words, engaging whiskey fans is nothing new for this company since they’ve been doing it since the 1800s with brands like Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr. at the O.F.C. Distillery (now Buffalo Trace).
“The opening of the Sazerac House gives us a show-stopping homeplace in the heart of New Orleans, in a building with a history that aligns so closely to ours,” said Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer of the Sazerac Company. “The Sazerac House showcases our roots in this remarkable city, our commitment to our guests to create an incredibly memorable experience and our celebration of the Sazerac Cocktail.”
The new Sazerac House promises an immersive, spirited experience exploring the history of New Orleans through its cocktails. Cutting-edge exhibit technology throughout the experience allows guests to dive into the French Quarter in the 1800s, take a seat at a simulation of the original Sazerac House café tables, chat with virtual New Orleans bartenders about their signature drink recipes and learn how to build drinks from the famous Mr. Boston guide, based on their favorite flavor profiles.
Visitors will learn about the roots of the Sazerac family, which date back to the 1630s in France. The Sazerac Company worked with a number of archivists to thoroughly research and document all of the information in the exhibits. More than a museum, guests can also take part in the production of Peychaud’s Bitters and Sazerac Rye Whiskey—marking the first time that whiskey has been legally distilled in the New Orleans Central Business District.
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A Three Story Wall of Whiskey
Guests will travel past a three-story-tall bottle wall featuring signature Sazerac brand spirits to elevators that bring them to the third floor, where the self-guided journey begins. The journey begins in New Orleans in the 1800s before traveling to the second floor exhibits which feature modern day cocktail craftsmanship. Finally, visitors will explore whiskey production in a fully functioning distillery on the first floor. Guests who are age 21 and over will enjoy sampling stations with a variety of Sazerac products or cocktails, which will vary by day of the week and the season.
Sazerac House Highlights Include:
Sophisticated Spirits — Sit down, choose a drink and enjoy a virtual cocktail mixed up by a New Orleans bartender. Four bartenders who represent the city’s diverse cocktail culture share their craft, cocktail history, and personal stories. Watch an expert in action and along the way, learn about important tools, ingredients, spirits, and lore. Visitors leave feeling inspired and empowered to order or make new drinks.
Café Culture — Café Culture captures the Sazerac House, c. 1902, one of the city’s top destinations–a place where the who’s who went to cut deals, handle business and discuss politics. Visitors use physical coasters to activate the three stories and touch to expand upon story elements. Guests will meet the Sazerac House’s famous bartenders, enjoy tales of its spirited history, learn methods for making its most famous drinks, and get a taste for some of the celebrations. At the end, visitors can take the coaster as a souvenir, which has a drink recipe printed on the back.
Magic Mirrors — Using hidden motion sensors, seemingly regular mirrors magically reveal a series of animated films. Through each of the three mirrors, visitors will see historic advertisements, photographs, and iconic Sazerac products, including Herbsaint, Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac, and Sazerac Rye Whiskey.
The Power of the Dash — Visitors discover that bitters are a versatile product with the power to elevate cocktails and food recipes. They learn what bitters are, how they’re made, and simple pairings for each of the three featured Sazerac products. While learning about bitters as a concept, guests will also be able to view production and bottling of the famous Peychaud’s Bitters.
Boston — Inspired by the Mr. Boston Bartender Guide, this interactive exhibit offers a curated-but-extensive menu of cocktails and a playful mode to find just the right one. Spin the virtual wheel to locate the perfect drink based on favorite flavors and spirits. Visitors can also browse recipes and learn about how drinking has changed since the first Mr. Boston guide was published in the 1930.
Sazerac Rye Distillery Exhibit — One of the showstoppers of the Sazerac House is the Distillery Exhibit, which includes a new, custom-built still on the first floor of the Sazerac House. The 60-inch diameter, 500-gallon Vendome Copper & Brass Works (a family that also traces its roots back to France) hybrid still, which will produce Sazerac Rye Whiskey, is viewable from two stories through a glass front facing Canal Street. Sazerac Rye will also be bottled on site. A 2,200 gallon thermal energy tank, viewable in the Distillery Exhibit, makes 14,000 pounds of ice at night to cool and condition the distillery equipment during the day.
Retail Shop — At the close of their visit, guests will have the opportunity to purchase items from the retail shop, including apparel, bar tools, exclusive gift sets and even the spirits represented at the Sazerac House.
A 2 Year Renovation Project
The Sazerac House is a full renovation of two nearly 200-year-old buildings which were previously vacant for more than 30 years. Local historic preservation architects Trapolin-Peer Architects and Ryan Gootee General Contractors led the renovation efforts of the 48,000 square foot space over the course of two years. Throughout the renovation there was a focus on restoring and reusing historic elements of the building, which reduced landfill load by 5300 tons and saved 2.557 metric tons of CO2.
Gallagher & Associates, a museum design company known for its work on the National WWII Museum, The Spy Museum, and many other notable attractions designed the exhibits. The New Orleans-based Solomon Group fabricated and installed the exhibits, and provided audio-visual integration.
The buildings also house Sazerac company offices, which are home to 60 employees, 45 of which are new positions due to the Sazerac House creation.
Sazerac Company to Build Museum and Homeplace in New Orleans French Quarter
How to Make a Sazerac Cocktail – The Official Drink of NOLA
The History of the Sazerac Cocktail and its Apothecary Roots