Napoleon House is more 200 years old. Its first occupant, Nicholas Girod, mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815, offered his home as a safe house to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821 during the emperor's exile from France. Although Napoleon never sought refuge in New Orleans, the tale of Girod's offer gave the building a romantic aura that has since drawn thousands from around the globe to its tables.
Devotees of the Sazerac tried to make it the Official Cocktail of Louisiana. At presstime, the state Senate was considering a bill that would put the drink in a place of honor worthy of its history. One of the many stories of the origin of the cocktail is that it was created in the 1830s by New Orleans apothecary Antoine Amadie Peychaud. One of his prescriptions was aromatic bitters concocted from a family recipe, but Peychaud also used them with French brandy, water and sugar in a drink he made for his friends, now called the Sazerac. It was served in an egg cup that was called a 'coquetier" in French.
Pat O'Brien's originally was a speakeasy during Prohibition and continued its success as a legal bar after the ban on alcohol was lifted. Pat O's created its most famous drink, the Hurricane, during World War II, when it had an abundance of rum and needed a way to entice its patrons to consume that liquor. The drink got its name because it was served in a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp.
The Old Absinthe House opened as a saloon in 1815 and was visited by such luminaries as Mark Twain, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Franklin Roosevelt and Frank Sinatra. It also was where pirate Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson allegedly met to discuss the Battle of New Orleans. The Absinthe Frappe was created there in 1874, but the U.S. government later outlawed absinthe " rumored to have narcotic properties. Legal versions are becoming popular again.
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop has been called the 'oldest continually occupied bar" in the United States. It was rumored to have once been owned by the pirate Jean Lafitte, who operated as a front for his illegal dealings, although no evidence exists to substantiate the claim. Built before 1772, it is a National Historic Landmark and one of the few remaining examples of French architecture in the Quarter.
Café Lafitte in Exile on Bourbon Street is the oldest gay bar in the country.
The famous Ramos Gin Fizz was invented by Henry C. Ramos at Meyer's Restaurant in the 1880s, but became famous when it was served at the Roosevelt Hotel. When Huey P. Long was governor of Louisiana, he brought the Roosevelt bartender with him to New York just so he could have this drink.
Before Bourbon Street was famous for its bars and strip clubs, it was an epicenter of burlesque in the 1930s through '50s.
The Hand Grenade, the 'strongest drink on Bourbon Street," (the equivalent of 4.5 standard drinks) is sold only at Tropical Isle.