Bartender Laura Bellucci took a 50-day road trip, seeking the best city in America to call home.
The former Boston resident picked New Orleans, and has since become one of the city’s leading bartenders.
Bellucci is the bar director at the coming-soon Belle Epoque, located next-door to the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. She maintains that bars and their unique cocktails create a vibrant culture in NOLA.
Here’s her take on three iconic New Orleans drinks.
The Sazerac is not only a historical drink of New Orleans; it’s an expression of the city’s approach to drinks. Created in the 19th century, it’s regarded as one of the first cocktails.
“Cocktails are temporarily beautiful and are meant to be slowly enjoyed,” Bellucci said. The Sazerac is made with sugar, rye whiskey and bitters and comes topped with an orange peel garnish. It was declared the official drink of the city in 2008 by the Louisiana House of Representatives.
Another traditional New Orleans drink is the Hurricane. This tiki drink made with simple syrup, orange juice, lime juice, rum and passionfruit juice is served in a curvy, stemmed glass. Its origin has been argued, but the Hurricane was sold at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.
One of the most infamous cocktails on Bourbon Street is the Hand Grenade at the Tropical Isle, a beverage popular among tourists. Made out of high-proof rum and melon juice, and served in a green plastic container, the green drink is potent and tart.
Are Hand Grenades a tourist trap? Possibly. But “they are emblematic of New Orleans,” Bellucci said.
These cocktails reign as some of the best-known boozy drinks in a historically boozy city. Each one, made of unique ingredients and for differing audiences, “tell a story,” Bellucci said. Ordering one of these cocktails is a great way to get yet another taste of New Orleans.