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On this edition of the NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias, our featured interview is with Murf Reeves, bar manager at Angeline, DJ on WWOZ, and owner of a business that curates playlists for establishments and events. We talk New Orleans music, pairing music with food and drink, and much more. Here in a post-Mardi Gras world, we also talk apothecary cocktails and a bit of the history of how these drinks’ ingredients went from apothecary to pharmacy to cocktail bar. We also discuss how New Orleans played a key role in the story.

Pictured above from left – Bryan Dias of NOLADrinks and Murf Reeves of Angeline and WWOZ.

NOLADrinks – 2-15-18 – Murf Reeves and Apothecary Cocktails

We start things off right away with our discussion of apothecary cocktails. It’s an overview of how many of the curative components or ingredients found in the classic cocktails we enjoy today have long-standing roots that go far back in history. Of course, New Orleans plays a significant role in this story.

We touch on how herbal and traditional medicine date back millennia. We move to talking about the rise of patent medicine and apothecaries. Our discussion includes bitters, both what are now called “cocktail bitters” and “potable bitters,” as well as other liquors that were presented or believed to be curative.


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New Orleans’ role as the location of the first certified pharmacist in the US (be sure to check out the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum) as well as being the home of Peychaud’s Bitters is an important part of this history. We talk about the birth of the Sazerac Cocktail, here, in 1850 and its development in the second half of the 19th century.

We move to 1906 with Pure Food and Drug Act that gave rise to the FDA in this country and how that was a watershed moment in moving cocktails from pharmacy to bar. Certainly, we talk about a couple classic cocktails and how many of their ingredients have curative pasts and why this all makes sense.

Up next is our featured interview with Murf Reeves. Along with having a long-standing DJ stint on WWOZ, the iconic New Orleans music radio station, he also has a great deal of experience as a restaurateur and bartender. Currently, he is running the bar and beverage program at Angeline, where we taped this portion of the show, a terrific French Quarter restaurant run by Chef Alex Harrell.

At left – Bryan Dias and Murf Reeves – We taped the interview (wisely!) before Mardi Gras. This photo was taken at Angeline during their “Red Neck Brunch” on Lundi Gras (when no one could have done an interview…)

We talk quite a bit about New Orleans music and just how special and important it is. We also talk about ideas to connecting music to food and drink and how ambience (including well-selected tunes) is critical to the experience at a restaurant or bar (or anywhere really.) Murf is bringing his experience with music and hospitality together with his business that curates playlists for establishments and events. Of course, we talk about Angeline, the food, and how Murf is bringing some of his music orientation to that spot, as well.

We close things out with some notes on next week’s show. Also, we circle back to a brief, further discussion on bitters and the explosion of them, both in volume and variety, in the market in recent years.

Show note – I hope everyone who celebrated Mardi Gras had a great one (even if you just celebrated with us in spirit.) Still in a bit of a fog from Carnival, I was probably a bit off, including butchering Amedie Peychaud’s first name. Apologies to the late, great pharmacist and New Orleans founder of the iconic bitters! But hey, it was Mardi Gras after all! #YYR!

Below the map that shows the location of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum and Angeline, you can subscribe to, stream, and download The NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias podcast

Cheers, You All!

~ Bryan