Legend has it that the cocktail was invented in New Orleans. Whether that's 100 percent true, there's no denying that many a mixed drink was born in the Crescent City, undoubtedly the lodestar of American drinking culture. As the heat and humidity rise, sating a powerful thirst becomes an urgent mission. These six drinks are all epic — and because this is New Orleans, you can even order them to go.

Ramos Gin Fizz

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For the frothiest Ramos gin fizz, a favorite of notorious past governor Huey P. Long, go directly to Bourbon O Bar, a stylish den of craft libations with live jazz most evenings. Bartender Cheryl Charming presides over this classy spot on Bourbon (one of the few left), and her gin fizz can be ordered shaken for six or 12 minutes. Back in 1888, when bar owner Henry "Carl" Ramos invented this mix of citrus, gin, egg white and orange flower water, shaker boys did the job. Charming’s version benefits from a contraption that whips the fizz into an ethereal frenzy.

730 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70116. +1 504-571-4685; bourbono.com

 

Sazerac 

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Cocktail wags largely agree that the Sazerac is one of the oldest examples of the American cocktail. Smoky and slightly sweet with just an insinuation of bitterness, the drink itself is downright simple. Good rye whisky, Peychaud’s bitters, sugar, a chilled glass rinsed with absinthe and a healthy dose of oil from a wide ribbon of lemon peel set the stage for perfection. Worship at the altar of Sazerac at The Sazerac Bar in the gorgeous Roosevelt Hotel, where the 19th-century original recipe is favored. For something frostily related, toddle a few stops across the lobby to Teddy’s Café, where Sazerac ice cream is being served. 

130 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112. +1 504-648-1200; therooseveltneworleans.com

 

Frozen Negroni

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In a town where the typical frozen drink can bring on a sugar coma, the frozen negroni at Cafe Henri stands alone. As riveting as a sophisticated woman in a crowd of chattering teens, the icy libation is clearly for adults only. The bitter notes in this slushie version of the three-ingredient Italian classic make it especially bracing. Cafe Henri is a newly opened Bywater bar and eatery from Neal Bodenheimer, Kirk Estopinal and Nick Detrich, all pioneers in local cocktail craft and the wizards behind Cure uptown and Cane + Table in the French Quarter.  

800 Louisa St., 
New Orleans, LA 70117. +1 504-302-2357; Facebook

 

Corpse Reviver No. 2

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New Orleans debauchery can take its toll. If your hungover body and brain need to be brought back to life, head to The Cocktail Bar at the Windsor Court Hotel, an oasis of sanity in a city where excess is the baseline. Sage mixologist Kent Westmoreland counts the invigorating Corpse Reviver No. 2 in his top five overall cocktails thanks to its exquisite balance of gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, citrus and (a dash of) absinthe. Popularized by the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, this classic cocktail is like a lemon drop with a PhD.

300 Gravier St., New Orleans, LA 70130. +1 504-523-6000; windsorcourthotel.com

 

French 75

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Named after a 75-millimeter field gun used in World War I, the French 75 is a bubbly wonder that elegantly hits its mark every time. The best place to have one is at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, home to storied bartender Chris Hannah. Although some recipes for this sparkler are made with gin, Hannah always uses cognac. Trust him; he’ll never steer you wrong. While you’re at Arnaud’s, extend the festive mood with a visit to the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum upstairs, a lavish display that will have you longing for Carnival season. 

813 Rue Bienville, New Orleans, LA 70112. +1 504-523-5433; arnaudsrestaurant.com

 

Grasshopper

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Equal parts green crème de menthe, white crème de cacao and cream, a grasshopper is shaken with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass — an after-dinner throwback that oozes retro charm. The minty dreamsicle was created at Tujague’s, the oldest stand-up bar in America. What better way to drink your dessert than with a revelatory sip at the very bar where it was invented?

823 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70116. +1
 504-525-8676; tujagues.com


By Beth D’Addono

Food and travel writer obsessed with New Orleans, animal lover, rabid eater, curious consumer, never bored. The author of New Orleans The Hunt, Beth is currently working on her next book 100 Things to do in New Orleans Before You Die (Reedy Press) due out in December 2016.