The La Louisiane, a mixture of rye, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and Peychaud’s Bitters, was once the signature cocktail of the now defunct restaurant and hotel of the same name. Historians dispute the date of its invention, but all acknowledge it was the restaurant’s answer to the more popular Sazerac.
The restaurant, which opened in 1891, was owned and run by Fernand Jules Alciatore (of Antoine’s Restaurant fame) until the early twentieth century. It was Alciatore who began to keep a guest registry that he dubbed The Golden blog, which, over time, burst with signatures from prominent guests, including presidents, titans of industry, and even Harry Houdini. The list speaks to the popularity of New Orleans as a destination before and during Prohibition. When legendary mobster Diamond Jim Moran purchased the restaurant, he decorated the space even more extravagantly, covering the ceilings with Baccarat chandeliers. He was even known to surprise prominent patrons with a diamond-studded meatball.
Once its namesake restaurant closed, the La Louisiane’s popularity declined and like the Roffignac it lost its home base. But the La Louisiane has recently had a resurgence, and I’ve seen the drink on menus across town, notably at the 21st Amendment bar, which is located in the former La Louisiane restaurant’s building.