10 Essential New Orleans Cocktail Recipes

Bring the Big Easy to you with the perfect Sazerac, brandy milk punch, and more.


By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on February 14, 2024

It may come as no surprise that New Orleans, the exuberant center of Mardi Gras, is also the birthplace of several classic cocktails, from the boozy Sazerac to the citrus-kissed Brandy Crusta. Neal Bodenheimer, founder of New Orleans bar Cure and author of a book by the same name, Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em, credits the city’s unique drinking culture to its history. “New Orleans was once a French and Spanish colony with special access to imported European goods like brandy and absinthe; a thriving port and depot center where barges of whiskey from Kentucky docked near ships filled with rum and sugar from the Caribbean; and a merchants’ town where people made decent money and were happy to spend it in the city’s many coffeehouses and drinking establishments,” he writes. Here are our favorite New Orleans cocktails to transport you to what local bartenders call the “cradle of cocktail civilization.”

Denny Culbert

Invented in antebellum New Orleans, this citrusy cocktail with a sugar rim was a precursor to the sidecar. Cure owner Neal Bodenheimer’s version makes it easy to see why it’s been a cult favorite since 1862. Get the recipe >

Photo: Murray Hall • Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Making Louisiana’s official state cocktail like a seasoned New Orleans bartender is easier than you think. This recipe from Crescent City institution Commander’s Palace calls for absinthe, but if you can't find it, substitute another anisette such as Herbsaint or pastis. Get the recipe >

Photo: Matt Taylor-Gross • Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Along with the bloody mary, brandy milk punch is a New Orleans brunch mainstay (and one of our favorite holiday tipples). This creamy, nutmeg-spiced version comes to us from the classic New Orleans restaurant Brennan’s and features an aromatic aged brandy named after Napoleon Bonaparte. Get the recipe >

Photo: Murray Hall • Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

This classic whiskey cocktail recipe comes from Hotel Monteleone’s rotating Carousel Bar in New Orleans, where the drink was created. The cocktail’s name, which means “old square” in French, is a nod to the French Quarter. Get the recipe >

Denny Culbert

Synonymous with Bourbon Street debauchery, The Hurricane was invented at another New Orleans institution: Pat O’Brien’s. Cane & Table bartender Kirk Estinopal puts his own stamp on the classic rum cocktail with a homemade syrup of passion fruit, pomegranate molasses, guava jelly, and hibiscus. Get the recipe >

Matt Taylor-Gross

A seductively named drink built on rye, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Peychaud’s bitters, and absinthe, the La Louisiane shares similar DNA to other New Orleans classics, but never made the same leap into the cocktail mainstream. Try shaking one up yourself to see why it’s finally getting its due. Get the recipe >

Matt Taylor-Gross

Invented by New Orleans bar owner Henry Ramos in 1888, this frothy cocktail became quite popular in the Big Easy. In 1935, it was trademarked by the Crescent City's Roosevelt Hotel. It’s still among the best-loved classics out there, an ethereal and strangely light cocktail of gin and citrus, with cream, soda, and a touch of orange blossom water. Get the recipe >

Chris Granger

Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac served as mayor of New Orleans from 1820 to 1828, bringing cobblestones and gas lighting to the French Quarter. The concoction that celebrates him calls for whiskey, sugar, soda, and the curious "red Hembarig," which refers to a raspberry shrub. Our version swaps out the whiskey for cognac as a nod to Roffignac's Gallic heritage and is just as refreshing. Get the recipe >

Todd Coleman

While this elegant libation of cognac, lemon, and champagne French 75 didn’t originate in New Orleans, it’s widely associated with Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, which dates back to the late 1800s. Here’s how to get the simple cocktail just right. Get the recipe >

Todd Coleman

Our simplified version of the flaming coffee cocktail served at Arnaud's in New Orleans starts by infusing orange curaçao and brandy with whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and fresh citrus. The pyrotechnics come next, followed by plenty of strong black coffee and sugar—it’s guaranteed to stop you in your tracks. Get the recipe >

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