First-time visitors are often struck by the European flavor of New Orleans, and little wonder. It's everywhere! Visitors see it in the architecture, taste it in the food, hear it in the music that abounds, and experience it in the hospitality and characteristic accent of the locals. Louisiana was claimed for French king Louis XIV in 1699 and is the only state that was once a French royal colony. "La Nouvelle Orleans" was founded in 1718 and ruled by France and then Spain for nearly 100 years. It is the only city of the United States where French was the predominant language for more than one century. New Orleans is often called the "Crescent City" because it was founded on the bend of the Mississippi River. This unusual shape causes locals and visitors to become confused occasionally, as there is no traditional "north, south, east, or west" mode of getting around. Some streets in the city begin at one end parallel, and end up perpendicular. New Orleans has more than 35,000 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, more than any other city in the United States. Many of these architectural treasures are located in the 120 blocks of the French Quarter. As Americans settled in New Orleans, they built exquisite antebellum mansions in the Garden District and Uptown. These architectural gems fill the residential areas. Locals who recognize their architectural significance have restored many of these homes in grand fashion. Many of the tens of thousands of live oak trees that line the streets and boulevards of New Orleand date back to before the Civil War. The New Orleans Streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating rail system in the world. It currently transports locals and tourists from uptown to the business district along St. Charles Avenue. New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz, and rightfully so. Early jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver got their starts in the nightclubs of Storyville, a red-light district that flourished between 1897 and 1917. New Orleans has also a well-deserved reputation for food. There are more than three thousands restaurants in the city, many of which have been owned and operated by the same families for generations. The predominant foods are Creole and Cajun, but there are many ethnic restaurants that feature foods from throughout the world.
America's First Cocktail
Is it any surprise that America's first cocktail, the Sazerac, was created in New Orleans, the city that loves to party? Back in the early 1800's, Antoine Peychaud created the drink in a French Quarter bar and named it for his favorite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils. In 1870, the drink was changed when American Rye whiskey was substituted for cognac, and a dash of absinthe was added by bartender Leon Lamothe, and today he is now regarded as the Father of the Sazerac. In 1912, absinthe was banned, so Peychaud substituted his special bitters in its place. In 1893 the Grunewald Hotel was built in the city, and at this time the hotel earned the rights to Ramos Gin Fizz and the Sazerac. In 1965 the hotel was renamed the Fairmont Hotel. Today, the Sazerac is best enjoyed in many of New Orleans' finest restaurants and bars, most notably the Sazerac Bar in the Fairmont Hotel, where celebrities, locals, and tourists enjoy the drink.
Ingredients for 1 runner: 3-4 dashes of Pernod (120 proof); 2 ounces Rye of Bourbon blended whiskey; 3-4 hearty dashes of Peychaud bitters; one long, thin twist of lemon; sugar cube; water; club soda (optional).
Place Pernod in a well-chilled Old Fashion glass.
Tilt glass to coat sides completely and pour off excess Pernod.
Place Rye and Peychaud bitters into cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
Shake for 30 seconds and strain into prepared glass.
Twist lemon peel over drink and drop in gently.
Enjoy the drink!
Run The Planet thanks the website New Orleans Online (www.neworleansonline.com) for the permission to reprint the articles "Historical facts about New Orleans" (here adapted) and "Sazerac: America's First Cocktail". For more information about all the fun things to see, do and eat while in New Orleans, visit: www.neworleansonline.com, the official tourism website for the city. Be sure to ask for a "Good Times Guide" with information about New Orleans and $2400 in coupons to hotels, attractions and restaurants. New Orleans: Happenin' Every Day!