Food & Drink

Drink 10 Southern cocktails in the bars that invented them

You'll have to get your passport and beret ready to indulge your history nerd side in a bit of Sidecar action, since it was first shaken at The Ritz in Paris. But you'll just need to practice your Southern drawl to visit the birthplaces of some of America's cocktails, like the Old Fashioned. Or at least to visit the cocktaileries that adopted them after Prohibition shut down the original inventor's bar. 

The Hurricane

Pat O'Brien's (address and info)
New Orleans, LA
The punch-red drink was a necessary creation in the '40s when more desired liquors, like whiskey and bourbon, were hard to come by and bar owners were forced to load up on cases of plentiful rum to get their hands on the brown stuff. Pat O'Brien's namesake and owner tinkered until landing on this concoction that's served in a bulbous glass that resembles a hurricane lamp. And while hurricane season is never welcome along the Gulf Coast, New Orleanians know that Hurricane season is kicked off at the same time, and there are few better ways to drown worries of natural disasters than with a bucketload of sugar and almost as much rum in Pat O's courtyard.  

Yellowhammer

Gallettes (address and info)
Tuscaloosa, AL
While the university town is far more famous for football than anything else, T-town knows that a strong drink is the proper accompaniment for an SEC game. The Yellowhammer, named after Alabama's state bird, has garnered fame throughout the Southeast thanks to its rep as a necessary pre- and post-game drink for students, alumni, and opposing fans, and it's easy to grab since Gallettes is the closest bar to the stadium. The bar keeps the recipe secret, but enterprising Southerners, who've needed to mix a drink from out of state, say it's made with Malibu, rum, pineapple and orange juices, and vodka.

Grasshopper

Tujague's (address and info)
New Orleans, LA
In 1919, Philibert Guichet, a co-owner of NOLA's French Quarter restaurant Tujague's, headed to New York for a major cocktail competition which he... got second place in. But that almost-gold-winning drink, the creme de menthe and creme de cacao-filled Grasshopper, stuck around and can still be ordered at ol' Philibert's restaurant, which is one of the oldest restaurants in the city.

Alabama Slammer

Harry's Bar (address and info)
Tuscaloosa, AL
Another drink with a murky history, the Alabama Slammer came up sometime in the '70s and hit the big screen when Tom Cruise's Cocktail character name-dropped it as a drink that Americans were "getting stinky on" in his Last Barman Poet bit. The name and color place the vodka, Southern Comfort, sloe gin, and amaretto cocktail in the University of Alabama territory, and it's still best sipped at the university's local, infamous dive Harry's Bar. 

Mint Julep

The Greenbrier Hotel (address and info)
Sulpher Springs, VA
Kentucky may be the julep's stronghold these days, but Virginia claims its origin; the drink's name first appeared in print in 1803 in London and was described as "a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning." While a specific location isn't named, the Greenbrier Hotel has mint juleps for $.25 in its 1816 account books, so you can totally blame the imminent whiskey shortage on their early prices that definitely encouraged over-consumption. 

sazerac
Scott Gold

Sazerac

The Sazerac Bar (address and info)
New Orleans, LA
The history of the Sazerac is a bit murky, but the most commonly told tale is that apothecary Antoine Amédée Peychaud created the cocktail as a medicinal mixture at his French Quarter drug store in 1838. While that bar is no longer around for you to sidle up to, what is now the beautiful Roosevelt Hotel -- then the Grunewald Hotel -- snagged the rights to the drink in 1893, and you can order the bitter drink at its aptly named Sazerac Bar. 

Rum Runner

Holiday Isle Tiki Bar (address and info)
Islamorada, FL
This beach drink came, of course, out of the Florida Keys in 1971. The owner of Holiday Isle supposedly dared the manager at Tiki Bar, the hotel's watering hole, to make a potable drink from the excess booze in the storeroom. Banana liqueur, rum, brandy, and grenadine proved delicious and have been able to help produce four decades of Spring break-worthy pictures for middle-agers on vacation.

Ramos Gin Fizz 

The Sazerac Bar (address and info)
New Orleans, LA 
The Gin Fizz is the ultimate shaken, not stirred drink, and Henry C. Ramos, a NOLA bar owner, invented the vigorous arm workout at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon, his downtown bar, at the end of the 19th century. Like most bars, the spot went out of business with Prohibition, but you can snag a near-perfect one from the Sazerac Bar: Like the Sazerac, the bar adopted the Fizz in the post-Prohibition years, and their bartenders still do the double-digit minute shake. If you're feeling nostalgic, grab a to-go cup and walk with the drink the block and a half to the corner where Ramos' bar once stood.

Old Fashioned

The Pendennis Club (address and info)
Louisville, KY
Supposedly the word "cocktail" popped up in 1806, when the editor of a New York publication explained that a "cock tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters." The rather simple Old Fashioned is one of those originals, but the mixture of sugar muddled in bitters with bourbon or rye and a few dashes of water didn't get its sticking name until much later in the century at Louisville's Pendennis Club. Your best chance for getting into the private club is by snagging an invite with a current member or getting into their famous Derby parties. 

Absinthe Frappe

Old Absinthe House (address and info)
New Orleans, LA
The Sazerac may claim the title of first cocktail, but the absinthe-based drink's main spirit was once primarily consumed in the Absinthe Frappe, which would be much less at home in Starbucks than the name implies. In 1874, a mixologist at Aleix's Coffee House -- again, not as Bux-friendly as it sounds -- shook the extremely potent mixture of absinthe, soda water, and anisette to life, and it was so popular that the bar was renamed in the green fairy's honor.

Liz Childers is a Thrillist food & drink editorial assistant, and she empathizes with Huey P. Long's desire to bring a NOLA bartender to NYC to show how a Gin Fizz should be made. Follow her at @lizchilders1.

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