Gallagher & Associates (G&A) has partnered with the Sazerac Company to create a multi-sensory experience that celebrates the cocktail scene of New Orleans.
According to G&A, the reimagined Sazerac House redefines what a brand, a drink and a distillery can do when married with a distinctive city, a ‘spirited culture’ and an intoxicating story. It mixes elements of a museum, a branded experience and a retail establishment.
“This hybrid experience uniquely merges historic architecture, interactive media, immersive storytelling and distillery production to create something completely new for the city,” says G&A’s Project Creative Director, Rob Malootian. “We could not be more proud to contribute to the cultural landscape of New Orleans.”
The 20,000 square-feet (1,860 sq m) journey is housed in a historic building at the corner of Magazine and Canal, just a short distance from the original 1850s-era Sazerac Coffee House. Visitors will be able to see, smell and taste their way through the experience, as the story of craft cocktail culture is told in the city where it all began.
Birthplace of the American cocktail
Guests will learn of Sazerac family’s origins in France and how French Quarter was created in New Orleans at the turn of the 19th/20th Century. This is the place where Antoine Peychaud invented bitters, paving the way to America’s first cocktail.
G&A has artfully integrated the story into the architecture of the building. Charred wood and barrel lids were utilised to represent wooden barrels for aging whiskey, and botanical graphics were included to acknowledge the ingredients used to create bitters. Intricate tile and metalwork were also incorporated to invoke a sense of old New Orleans bars.
In addition, soundscapes and projection mapping recreate the experience of travelling by trolley car from New Orleans’ bustling port and through the streets of the French Quarter to their final destination. Naturally, that is a bar!
The exhibits transport visitors to places where ingredients are harvested, liquor is created and drinks are served. After learning on the third floor about the botanicals used to create bitters, visitors will discover the story of the Sazerac Company’s liquors including whiskey, rum, bourbon and rye on the second floor.
A ‘Cafe Culture’ interactive captures the Sazerac Coffee House c.1902. Through the movement of three-dimensional coasters around the table, visitors are able to activate stories. In doing so, they can meet the Sazerac House’s most famous bartender, enjoy tales of its spirited history and learn how to make its signature drink. The coaster, complete with a recipe on the back, then becomes a souvenir for visitors to take home.
In ‘Sophisticated Spirits’ (as pictured, top of page), G&A has turned a traditional bar into a multimedia experience. An interactive touch table and a high-resolution display introduce guests to modern-day New Orleans cocktail culture as they are invited to enjoy a virtual cocktail mixed up by a master mixologist.
Whether they choose a Peychaud’s Spritz or a Miss Marie’s Gin & Tonic, visitors are compelled to craft their own cocktails and memories. They should leave under no illusion that New Orleans is the birthplace of cocktail culture.
Gallagher & Associates is an interdisciplinary design studio with offices in Washington DC, New York, Portland and Singapore. The company created the Sazerac House experience in partnership with Trapolin-Peer (architects), RomeAntics (AV Systems Design), Available Light (exhibition lighting design), History Associates (content research/writing) and Solomon Group (Exhibit Fabrication & AV Integration).
Images: Allan Karchmer/Gallagher & Associates.