the Cocktail issue
America’s Oldest Stand-up Bar by Poppy Tooker
In 1982, the late Steven Latter purchased Tujague’s from the Guichet family proudly keeping the 125-year-old tradition alive. Judges and lawyers kept lively company in the bar, often whiling away the hours playing poker dice at a round table. Not much of a drinker himself, when Steven did imbibe, his drink of choice was Crown Royal. Just a few years before his death, Steven saw a purple, velvet Crown Royal throne on display at his Rouses. He heckled the local distributor for one of those thrones, until finally it was installed in the bar’s back corner, where Steven held court over America’s oldest standup bar. The Grasshopper Serves 1 WHAT YOU WILL NEED ¾ ounce green crème de menthe ¾ ounce crème de cacao ¾ ounce white crème de menthe ½ ounce brandy
“S tep right up to the bar” has been the warm welcome at Tujague’s since 1856. Tujague’s Restaurant, currently celebrating their 160 th anniversary, is the home of America’s oldest standup bar. America’s early barrooms often lacked bar stools. Customers (all male, of course!) stood at the bar, often with one foot resting on the brass floor rail. Very few bars of that style still remain today. Customers and bartenders alike are reflected in the ancient mirror that backs the bar’s wall. The mirror, which arrived in New Orleans in the mid-1850s, spent its first century in a Parisian bistro. Today, as in centuries past, neighborhood locals stand side by side with visitors toasting occasions large and small or just catching an after work beer. The original Tujague’s was located on Decature three doors down from the 19 th century New Orleans pre-eminent restaurant, Begue’s Exchange. In 1917, when young Philip Guichet, Sr. moved his restaurant into the vacated Begue’s space, big things began happening in the bar. Young, competitively natured Guichet travelled to New York City in 1918 on the eve of Prohibition where he invented a sweet, creamy, green concoction, dubbed the Grasshopper. He took second place in that competition but from then on the cocktail was a fixture at Tujague’s. Despite the nuisance of Prohibition, the bar at Tujague’s never closed. Photos from those days show sober gentlemen gathered at a bar that doesn’t seem to offer more than soda water and near beer. But the bar was far from dry. Waiters carried bottles in the pockets of their voluminous white aprons to accommodate thirsty customers, a practice not totally ignored by the authorities. The Times-Picayune reported in 1931, “New Orleanian, Philip Guichet was seized by a raider after serving absinthe. He denied
selling liquor despite the accusations of a Prohibition agent who claimed to have seen him serving absinthe to a patron in the restaurant below his apartment.” Luckily, Mr. Guichet eventually escaped the charges. His love of competitive bartending never left him. Almost forty years after inventing the Grasshopper, Guichet travelled again to New York City to compete in the Early Times National Cocktail Competition.This time, he captured first place with a drink he called the Whiskey Punch. The Whiskey Punch never achieved the international fame of the Grasshopper, and was in fact completely lost in time until early 2015 when four photos and the first place red ribbon were discovered in Tujague’s third floor attic. The greatest discovery was an envelope on the back of the framed piece. Inside the envelope was a typewritten page with Guichet’s winning recipe for the Whiskey Punch.
¾ ounce heavy cream ¾ ounce whole milk ½ teaspoon brandy for topper HOW TO PREP
Combine all ingredients, except for the brandy, in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a champagne flute and top with brandy.
Interior Tujaque’s, New Orleans, LA
MY ROUSES EVERYDAY JULY | AUGUST 2016
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