Celebrating the Spirited Culture of New Orleans at Sazerac House
The Sazerac House is re-imagined in New Orleans. Housed in a historic building at the bustling corner of Magazine and Canal—just a short distance from the original 1850s-era Sazerac Coffee House—the new Sazerac House museum is a 20,000-square-foot multi-sensorial journey into the spirited culture of New Orleans.
G&A partnered with the Sazerac Company to create an experience that redefines what a brand, a drink, and a distillery can do when married with a historic city, a spirited culture, and an intoxicating story. As Sazerac General Manager, Miguel Solorzano, explains, “The Sazerac House is designed to tell the story of New Orleans’ distinctive history and heritage through the lens of its illustrious cocktail scene.”
Tracing the roots of the Sazerac story
This new category-defining experience breaks all the rules of a traditional museum, a branded experience, and a retail establishment. It’s a true multi-sensory journey into the story of craft cocktail culture and a celebration of the city where it all began. Visitors to Sazerac House can see, smell, and taste their way through the experience, tracing the roots of the Sazerac story back to the Sazerac family’s origins in France and to the turn-of-the-century French Quarter where the Haitian-Apothecarian, Antoine Peychaud, invented bitters—paving the way to America’s first cocktail.
“The Sazerac House reveals the little-known story of the company’s New Orleans origins while celebrating the local cocktail culture and the art of craft distilling. This hybrid experience uniquely merges historic architecture, interactive media, immersive storytelling, and distillery production to create something completely new for the city. We could not be more proud to contribute to the cultural landscape of New Orleans,” says Rob Malootian, G&A’s Project Creative Director.
Artfully integrated design
Upon entry, visitors find themselves where Sazerac began. G&A artfully integrates the story into architecture, using soundscapes and two-dimensional projection mapping to recreate the experience of traveling from NOLA’s bustling port by trolley car. Lightwells become the trolley car’s windows, illustrating the busy streets and storefronts, as visitors move through the French Quarter to their final destination: a bar, naturally!
The physical design of the experience is meant to celebrate all things Sazerac. The charred wood and barrel lids are evocative of the wooden barrels used to age whiskey. Botanical graphics give a nod to the ingredients that are used to create bitters. Intricate tile and metalwork give a nod to those old New Orleans bars where our favorite cocktails were created. The exhibits transport visitors to places where ingredients are harvested, liquor is created, and drinks are served.
The story leads visitors through the history of Sazerac. Beginning with the Sazerac family origins, visitors learn about French Quarter flavor and bitters production—an essential part of cocktail mixology—on the third floor. Moving down to the second floor, visitors discover the story of the Sazerac Company’s liquors – whiskey, rum, bourbon, and rye, among others – and discover the richness of cocktail culture. The stories show the fascinating history of how both the art of cocktails and the Sazerac brand have evolved over time.
An interactive ode to cocktail culture
Our Cafe Culture interactive captures the Sazerac Coffee House circa 1902, where tourists and the city’s who’s who went to cut deals, order the best cocktails, and admire master mixologists at work. Visitors activate stories by moving three-dimensional coasters around the table. Here, visitors can meet the Sazerac House’s most famous bartender, enjoy tales of its spirited history, examine the method of making its signature drink; it’s a magical experience that gives people a taste of the celebrations once had. In the end, the coaster, complete with a recipe on the back, becomes a souvenir to take home.
As visitors explore the new Sazerac House, it’s easy to see how New Orleans’ spirited heritage evolved over the years and influenced cocktail culture throughout the world. Sit down at Sophisticated Spirits and you’ll see just how much that celebrated culture evolved into four quintessential New Orleans-style bars. G&A designed this standout multi-media experience using a traditional bar with an interactive touch table and a high-resolution display to introduce people to modern-day New Orleans cocktail culture. Sit down, choose a drink, and enjoy a virtual cocktail mixed up by a master mixologist. From the Apothecary’s Peychaud’s Spritz to Miss Marie’s Gin & Tonic, visitors are invited to imbibe in one of New Orleans’ favorite past-times. Upon learning the mixologists’ personal stories, mixing methods, and balance of ingredients, you can’t help but feel inspired to try (or make!) something new.
In the end, it becomes clear that New Orleans is the birthplace of cocktail culture. Recipes and stories have been handed down through generations of master mixologists who have honed and evolved the craft while inspiring the nation and creating an unparalleled craft culture. The Sazerac House compels visitors to craft their own cocktails and create their own memories with the help of some sophisticated spirits.
Cheers, to that!
- Principal: Patrick Gallagher
- Creative Project Director: Rob Malootian
- Creative Media Director: Ariel Efron
- Creative Lead/ Art Director: Julie Flechoux
- Technical Director: Jonathan Cohen
- Project Manager: Natalie Tschechaniuk
- Producer: Noelle Palumbo
- Graphic Design: Eileen Dolan, Mike Pfister
- Exhibit Design: Lex Colton
- Exhibit Detailer: Josh Sennett
- Exhibit Coordinator: Liz Ponzio
- Content Strategy: Jessica Lautin, Anna Gedal
- Visual & interface design: Joshua Gallagher, Ze Tan
- Visual & motion graphics: Shir David, Shwenn Chang
- Interactive Development: Andrew McCausland, Valeriya Kozhynova, Bryan Ma
- Trapolin-Peer / Architects
- RomeAntics / AV Systems Design
- Available Light / Exhibition Lighting Design
- History Associates / Content Research & Writing
- Solomon Group / Exhibit Fabrication & AV Integration