Bitter Sweet

This article first appeared in our April 2013 special feature on New Orleans.

Todd Coleman

In 1838, Antoine Peychaud Jr. opened an apothecary in the French Quarter. There he served a remedy for stomach ailments made by mixing brandy with a proprietary tincture of bitter gentian root soaked with botanicals and other spices in high-proof alcohol. The combination was soon in demand across the city, and eventually became the basis for one of New Orleans' first cocktails, the Sazerac. Since then Peychaud's bitters have become essential to Big Easy-born tipples. It's still a key component in the Sazerac, as well as newer creations such as the Vieux Carre. Sweet and floral with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon, just a few dashes lend mixed drinks a warm herbal fragrance and flavor.