On this week’s The NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias, we talk about the history of the Old Absinthe House in New Orleans. At one time, it was one of the most famous bars in the country, if not, the world. We also talk about the new spot in the space, Belle Époque, a French Quarter absinthe lounge. We’re joined by cocktail historian and author, David Wondrich, and Belle Époque bar director, Laura Bellucci.
Pictured above from left – Bryan Dias of The NOLADrinks Show and Laura Bellucci of Belle Époque.
NOLADrinks Show – 11-4-19 – New Orleans’ Old Absinthe House and Belle Époque
We kick things off, briefly, letting you know about this week’s show and also about the results from the past weekend’s Bloody Mary Fest, which made its third annual stop in New Orleans.
Then, we head over to Belle Époque, the new absinthe lounge and speakeasy located in the shared building with the historic Old Absinthe House. We chat with Belle Époque’s bar director, Laura Bellucci, about the new space, its killer absinthe and cocktail program, the delicious food, and the elegant atmosphere.
Next up, we chat with leading cocktail historian, David Wondrich, who has recently done extensive research producing a four-part series on the history of the Old Absinthe House. You can see those here on The Daily Beast – Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4.
Dave tells us about the long story of this noted bar, which was once one of the most famous around. Dating back to the first half of the nineteenth century, the Old Absinthe House changed hands repeatedly and, in many ways, reflects the history and drinking culture of New Orleans over time.
We discuss most of the various families and individuals (many of whom were serious characters to be sure!) who owned and operated the space. Some of the myths and misinformation surrounding the bar are also discussed.
Pictured above from left – one of the two restored original absinthe drips atop the bar in Belle Époque.
Picture above from left – Laura Bellucci of Belle Époque, Sylvia Thompson-Dias of Sylvia T Designs (designer of Belle Époque), and David Wondrich. From a recent visit by David to New Orleans. Reviewing historical photos from the Old Absinthe House.
Dave sticks around for the first segment of our exclusive podcast-only portion of the show – “Another Shot with NOLADrinks.” We talk about some concepts connected to the Old Absinthe House and the drinking culture and history of New Orleans.
Then, in the second part of “Another Shot,” we return to Belle Époque and chat again with Laura. She lets us know a bit about the current era of the Old Absinthe House. We also chat about the contemporary landscape of absinthe including the proliferation of brands coming from both Europe and the US. She lets us know about the various flavor profiles, developing absinthe-based cocktails, and more!
The map below shows the location of the Old Absinthe House and Belle Époque. You can subscribe to, stream, and download The NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias podcast using the links and player at the top of the post.
Cheers, You All!