When you think of caffeinated beverages from New Orleans, their characteristic chicory and coffee mixes may come to mind, perhaps served up with a hot beignet as they do at the Cafe du Monde (founded in 1862). However, coffee has a long history in New Orleans, and long before it was mixed with chicory – a rationing trick introduced during the American Civil War – it was being served undiluted in the Big Easy.
The first coffee houses in New Orleans were in the old town, clustered around Canal St. and the French Quarter – an area that is still a hotbed for bars and cafes today. Some of the first (and perhaps wildest!) coffee houses in North America were established here in the 1700s, by French settlers who brought with them a love of coffee from the refined Parisian coffee houses.
The coffee beverages they served in NOLA quickly took on a local spin, though, and one of the more popular drinks they served was the brûlot – in fact, it’s served to this day in French Quarter restaurants. In this show-stopping drink, hot coffee flavoured with orange is mixed with sugar and flaming cognac. It’s said that the drink was created by seaman Jean Lafite, who was looking for a tasty drink to distract his would be pickpocket victims. To recreate this classic beverage at home, in a less dangerous fashion, brew up some Saltwinds Orange flavoured coffee and add a spoonful of sugar and a dash of cognac or rum. Délicieux!
Ukers, William H. Coffee. Boston, 1922. Ch. VIII p. 3