The La Louisiane Recipe

By Marcus Samuelsson |

Cocktail making is much more like baking than cooking, measurements must be precise, and things must be done in the correct order and manner to receive the best results each time.

In the spirit of Mardi Gras, and since nobody wants a good party to end, I thought I’d choose a cocktail that originates in New Orleans, and happens to be one of my favorite winter libations. I discovered it my senior year at NYU when I took Beverages 101, where tasting wine and cocktails at 9:30 in the morning was a requirement. We had a guest bartender come in and teach us the proper techniques in creating a cocktail. Then he showed us the La Louisiane, a long lost New Orleans treasure that’s sophisticated flavors gave me a whole new appreciation for cocktail making.

The La Louisiane was a famous restaurant in the French quarter that started out featuring French cuisine, turned hands and into Italian cuisine where meatballs were studded with diamonds, and after several owners, ended up  serving Creole cuisine before its ending days as a restaurant. It is now used as a bar and catering venue, hosting anything from weddings to social events. What still remains from the long history of this restaurant is the recipe for the La Louisiane, its house cocktail.  For the most part, it has been kept quite secret from the rest of the cocktail-making world, other than Stanley Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em. The La Louisiane is a cocktail that like its cousin, the Sazerac, is very much New Orleans from the spirits to the bitters

Sazerac Rye is used as the base of the cocktail. It dates back to the 1800s in New Orleans and is named for its original use: the first Sazerac cocktail. For an extra layer of flavor, Herbsaint or Absinthe is used to coat the inside of the glass. In 1934, Herbsaint which is French-creole for wormword (although it actually did not contain any) was created in New Orleans as a stand in for Absinthe after it was banned in the U.S.  Peychaud’s bitters is another New Orleans invention, created by a Creole apothecary. It is lighter, sweeter and more floral than the well known Angostura’s bitters, and is the perfect compliment to this drink. It’s nose hints at cherry, clove, and nutmeg.

This is the perfect apertif or even digestif as it is a smaller cocktail, but packs a lot of punch, and its herbal nature helps with digestion. It is the perfect warming, sweetly herbaceous drink to enjoy throughout thecold month of February.

Prep Details

Servings: 1

Calories per serving: 150 per serving

Prep time: 5 min.

Cooking time: 5 min.


La Louisiane

1 oz Sazerac Rye

¾ oz Benedictine

¾ oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Herbsaint or Absinthe, enough to coat the glass

1 Amarena cherry , garnish


Photo: Kenn Wilson

1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the first 4 ingredients and stir occasionally until ice has partially melted and the outside of the shaker has become frosted (about 2 minutes). Because the flavors are so rich and voluptuous, the drink needs to become extremely cold, and the cold water from the ice actually enhances the flavors when allowed to melt into the cocktail.

2. Next, coat a cocktail glass with Absinthe or Herbsaint. (I like to use an atomizer as it gives a nice even light lace of Absinthe to the drink without wasting any or over coating the glass)

3. Place the cherry at the bottom of the glass with or without a skewer, then top with cold cocktail.