America's First Cocktail
Before there was a company, there was a drink. Antoine Peychaud,
a Creole immigrant, operated a pharmacy on the French Quarter's Royal Street in
1838. With his background as an apothecary, he was a natural mixologist. His
friends would gather for late-night revelry at his pharmacy. Peychaud would mix
brandy, absinthe and a dash of his secret bitters for his guests. Later this
quaff would come to be known as the Sazerac.
After the drink, there was the bar. The cocktail immediately
spread in popularity at the city's finest coffee houses, which was the term for
drinking establishments during the mid-1800s. However, the cocktail is most
strongly associated with the wildly popular Sazerac Coffee House located on
Exchange Alley. In 1850, the owner Sewell Taylor institutionalized the drink at
his coffee house by using only Sazerac de Forge et Fils brandy, which he
imported and sold exclusively. The Sazerac cocktail received its name from this
coffee house, where it was most often imbibed.
New Sazerac screensavers!
From the bar, a company was born. In 1869, Thomas H. Handy
purchased the Sazerac Coffeehouse and began to acquire and market brands of
liquor. He bought out the rights to Peychaud's Bitters in 1873. In the 1890s
his company began to bottle and market the Sazerac cocktail, now made with rye
whiskey instead of brandy. In addition, the company operated the Sazerac Bar on
Royal Street. Later, Handy's former secretary, C. J. O'Reilly, chartered the
Sazerac Company. Ever since (except for a stint as a delicatessen and grocery
vendor during Prohibition), the Sazerac Company has distilled an
ever-increasing line of fine spirits. Today, we are still an independent,
American family owned company and proud owners of many of America's most
venerable distilling companies - Buffalo Trace Distillery, A. Smith Bowman,
Glenmore Distillery, Barton, Fleischmann, Medley and Mr. Boston.
Click on one of the images below to download the installation files.