Said to be New Orleans' first cocktail, the Sazerac is a staple for Mardi Gras.

Sazerac was named the official cocktail of New Orleans.
| Credit:  Virginia Switzer

It's often said that the word "cocktail" originated in New Orleans. That it is derived from the French word coquetier, an egg cup that was used to serve spirited beverages in the Crescent City in the early 19th century. Whether New Orleans is the official home to the "cocktail" or not, a visit to NOLA (as the city's affectionately called) proves, if anything, that they take their drinks seriously. And now, the city has been honored with its own official cocktail--the sazerac.

The Louisiana legislature passed a bill, originally proposed by Senator Edwin Murray, naming the sazerac the official beverage of the city of New Orleans. This concoction of rye, Herbsaint (or absinthe), and Peychaud's bitters packs a punch.

The sazerac, created by Antoine Peychaud in New Orleans in the early 1800s, was originally made with Cognac and Peychaud's bitters. He named the drink after his favorite brand of Cognac-the Sazerac-de-Forge-et fils. However, in 1870, Cognac was hard to find because of an epidemic affecting grape vineyards in France. Rye whiskey was used as a substitute. Also, absinthe, which was used to coat the cocktail glass, was banned in the United States in 1912. Hence, Pernod or Herbsaint was substituted.