The iconic white building on the corner of Bienville and Bourbon Streets was initially erected by Pedro Front and Francisco Juncadelia of Barcelona to house their importing firm. For the next forty years, the store was home to the bartering of food, tobacco and Spanish liquor and functioned as an prototypical "corner grocery."
In 1815, the ground floor was converted into a saloon known as "Aleix's Coffee House" and was run by the nephews of Senora Juncadelia. This coffee house was later rechristened "The Absinthe Room" when mixologist Cayetano Ferrer created the famous Absinthe House Frappe here in 1874.
The original Old Absinthe House bar was to cease serving liquor at the start of Prohibition—a powerful message delivered to one of New Orleans’ most significant watering holes. After a few years of below-the-table liquor sales, the bar and all of its fixtures were removed from the Old Absinthe House and moved under cover of darkness to a 400 Bourbon Street in order to preserve it. This speakeasy operation was known as "The Absinthe House Bar” and served bootleg booze to those who were in-the-know on where to party or at least knew who to ask.
The speakeasy operation at 400 Bourbon Street is now a Mango Mango Daiquiri shop, serving overproof, frozen concoctions to New Orleans visitors eager to embrace the local open-container laws.
Many decades after Repeal Day, the original bar from the Old Absinthe House was returned to its 240 Bourbon Street home in early 2004 and currently resides in the adjacent, speakeasy-style cocktail bar, Belle Époque. The Old Absinthe House is an exercise in endurance and the convergence of past and present. The decorative marble fountains that were used to drip cool water into glasses of Absinthe in the 1800s have also found a new life in Belle Époque. History endures against the backdrop of a bustling, neon Bourbon Street.
240 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70112
Sunday - Wednesday: 9am - 3am
Thursday - Saturday: 9am - 5am
Rye Whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, Angostura bitters, Herbsaint rinse
Absinthe Frappe (Invented here by Cayetano Ferrer)
Herbsaint, Anisette, Soda water
Irish whiskey, coffee, whip cream, green creme de menthe, cherry
Bloody Mary Chile
St. George Green Chile Vodka, Bloody Mary Mix, all the fixings
Gin, orange flower water, sour, milk, simple syrup, egg white
Dark rum, sour, float 151 rum, orange, grenadine
St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur, splash of St. George Absinthe Verte, milk, Coke
World’s Best Gin and Tonic
St. George Terroir Gin, Tonic and Lime
St. George California Citrus Vodka, Orange Liqueur, Cranberry Juice, Lime
According to popular urban mythology, the second-floor of the Old Absinthe House was where the famed pirate and outlaw Jean Lafitte met with Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. Jackson struck a deal with Lafitte and was awarded his assistance in the defense against British Naval forces during their last attempt to gain a foothold on American soil in the War of 1812. During the Battle of New Orleans, the “British batteries opened up en masse, and were immediately met with an angry barrage from Jackson’s 24 artillery pieces, some of them manned by Jean Lafitte’s pirates.”
Fascinatingly, the War of 1812 had drawn to an official close with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent about two weeks prior to the Battle of New Orleans. As you might imagine, news did not travel quickly in 1812 and the British forces were not informed that their hostilities had ben called to an end.
Rather than causing a PR disaster, this post-peace battle contributed to a national sense of triumph.