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Soda’s Influence on Cocktails of the Big Easy

by on October 2010

On April 5th, 2010 I will be flying down to New Orleans to present at the Museum of the American Cocktail. The presentation will be on the influence of soda on cocktails, specifically those of New Orleans fame. Many newspaper articles from the 1800s put New Orleans in second place for soda consumption after Atlanta which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Since New Orleans was highly esteemed for their cocktail creativity it only made sense that soda drinks would gain a healthy following, especially after the introduction of the original Coca-Cola. Pharmacist in the Big Easy, dishing out plain sodas,  were not going to get much business unless they up’d their creativity, or added a little “wink-n-nudge” to their drinks. In effect, the adulteration of soda drinks with rum, gin and whisky only helped to make better cocktails. Soda drinks may have been soft in other parts of America, but not in New Orleans.

During the heyday of the soda fountains in the 1800s, New Orleans was a center of creativity for soda recipes much like cocktails. An obvious example is the Ramos Gin Fizz, but other soda based drinks evolved from the shakers of soda jerks/bartenders. The St. Charles Hotel had a number of drinks on their menu, like the McGroney Punch and Pequot Fizz, both seemingly influenced by the soda fountain. The Elks Club of New Orleans had the Elk Fizz, which is similar to the Ramos Gin Fizz, which has a soda fountain connection. Each of these drinks uses soda, but it’s more than the use of soda that ties them to the fountain.

Other drinks that evolved in New Orleans include a style of root beer, which was originally known as New Orleans Mead prior to its modern generic designation, and the once popular Nectar soda, were created in New Orleans.

The Big Easy Soda session will take a look at the techniques used by soda fountains and many of the early recipes and how they influence cocktails today. Plus there will be samples of two key soda fountain ingredients (Acid Phosphate and Lactart) plus a new drink named called the Wet Grave, an old nickname for the city.

This will be great session, with a lot of interesting drink history and useful techniques. If you want to brush up the history of the soda fountain before the session check out Fix the Pumps.

Soda’s Influence on Cocktails of the Big Easy (Reserve a Seat)
The Museum of the American Cocktail
Monday, April 5 2010, 6:30pm
Presented By: Darcy S. O’Neil
$30.00 per person pre-register
At-the-Door is $35.00.
1 Poydras Street - Suite 169
New Orleans, LA 70130

Sponsors: Makers Mark, Plymouth Gin and Wray & Nephew

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