In 1934, just after the end of prohibition, a New Orleans pharmacist named J.M. Legendre introduced a product designed to appeal to that city’s residents’ long-time taste for the anise-flavored absinthe, which had been banned in 1912.Dubbed “Legendre Absinthe,” the spirit-which, contrary to the label, was not an actual absinthe, but rather a wormwood-free substitute-quickly drew the attention of a disapproving federal government, who required him to change the name. Re-released as Herbsaint, the potent spirit has been produced ever since.
From the bar, a company was born. In 1869, Thomas H. Handy purchased the Sazerac Coffeehouse and began to acquire and market brands of liquor. He bought out the rights to Peychaud’s Bitters in 1873. In the 1890s his company began to bottle and market the Sazerac cocktail, now made with rye whiskey instead of brandy. In addition, the company operated the Sazerac Bar on Royal Street. Later, Handy’s former secretary, C. J. O’Reilly, chartered the Sazerac Company. Ever since (except for a stint as a delicatessen and grocery vendor during Prohibition), the Sazerac Company has distilled an ever-increasing line of fine spirits. Today, we are still an independent, American family owned company and proud owners of many of America’s most venerable distilling companies – Buffalo Trace Distillery, A. Smith Bowman, Glenmore Distillery, Barton, Fleischmann, Medley and Mr. Boston.