The Mississippi River begins in bucolic Itasca Minnesota.  A charming and beautiful site that from first glance would never seem possible to create the greatest River in the world!  But from the humble beginnings in northern Minnesota, the ‘old man river’ ends at a site that is the polar opposite of Itasca!  New Orleans is about as far from Minnesota as you can get—both physically and culturally.  The voodoo vibe, the great zydeco music, spicy flavorful Cajun foods are all a culture shock to us native Minnesotans!


However there are a few great Louisiana liquors and beers we can all share.  One of the little known powerhouses in the industry is housed in Louisiana.  Sazerac companies are an amazing story!    Sazerac is the largest family owned distillery in the country.  It has some of the biggest brands and most hallowed liquor names in the entire world.


The Sazerac Story started in 1838.  Antoine Peychaud operated a pharmacy in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Being a skilled apothecary, Antoine loved to mix up cocktails.  He started mixing Cognac, Absinthe, and his secret ingredient –Peychaud bitters.  This cocktail soon became known as the Sazerac.  From here it slowly grew in popularity.  It was drunk throuout the city and was getting popular.  So eventually an enterprising man named Thomas Handy bought the rights to Peychauds bitters and started making the Sazerac cocktail available everywhere.  Slowly he started buying different distilleries and brands.  Today it is a powerhouse in the distilling world!  Sazerac owns venerable brands and distilleries like Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare Whiskey, Pappy van Winkle, George T Stagg, Dr Mcgillicuddy, Fleischman, and Mt Boston, to name a few.  It all started from a cocktail!  Try a Sazerac Cocktail either the traditional way with a cognac or the newer version of Rye Whiskey.  Cognac will make a slightly sweeter drink—while the Rye will be a little spicier!


Another great thing in New Orleans is Abita beer. It is an awesome brewery in Abita Springs LA, about 30 miles north of the city.  The brewery started in 1986 and blew up in popularity. They make all their beers following the purest methods.  Only water, barley, hops and yeast are used.  This is the best way to make beer.  No preservatives, no tricks, just good solid beer making!!  One of the keys to their great beers is the water.  Abita is one of the only breweries to never have to filter their water or use additives. Their water comes from over 5000 ft. below ground and is singularly pure and amazingly capable of producing great beer!  Water is the key! Abita makes dozens of beers, but only a few make their way to the northland—but the ones that do are worth it!  I love Purple Haze.  It is a raspberry wheat beer that is the perfect mix of wheat malts and vanguard hops, the hops are perfectly balanced to offset the sweetness of the malt and the fresh raspberrys that are added after filtration.  It is a great summertime refresher!


For the serious beer drinker, the Abita Restoration Pale Ale is a great example of balance and flavors. It uses 3 different malts, and has Cascade hops added for bitterness both before and after fermentation!  This beer has a great rich body, fresh citrusy flavors and a golden blond color.  A great beer to quench your thirst on a hot New Orleans or Minnesota day!  It is refreshing to see a classic brewing style that has been used by the Germans since 1516 still used today to make amazing beers!


Culturally we are as far apart from New Orleans as could be, but we share a great river and we share a great love of Beer and liquor!  Enjoy everything in Moderation!!