The Sazerac Company, based in New Orleans since 1850, has purchased two buildings on the corner of Canal and Magazine Street, adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel, a few hundred yards from the original 1850 Sazerac Coffee House site.
The company plans to rehabilitate the nearly 200 year-old buildings into The Sazerac House visitor attraction and beverage alcohol museum. Guests will learn about the history of the iconic Sazerac Cocktail and many other original New Orleans brands while exploring the unique role New Orleans has played in the bourbon and rum industries, and in American cocktail culture. The buildings will include a gift shop and Sazerac company offices, with a projection of 60 employees eventually working there.
The two buildings, vacant for more than 30 years, date back to the mid-1800s and contain rich architectural details including wood floors, high ceilings, oversized windows, and ornate support columns throughout. As many of the original design elements as possible will be kept as the buildings undergo renovation. “We simply could not be happier than to have the opportunity to restore such beautiful buildings to their former glory, in a perfect location, so close to the original site of the Sazerac Coffee House that will act as our future New Orleans homeplace,” commented Mark Brown, president and chief executive officer of the Sazerac Company. “We’re excited to have this opportunity to preserve our roots, while at the same time explore opportunities to introduce our visitors to new product releases that have a special tie to New Orleans.”
Sazerac has a history of buying hidden gems and restoring them to their natural beauty. In 1992 the company bought Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, complete with ramshackle buildings, barbed wire fences surrounding the property, and an employee base which had dwindled down to 50 from its thriving post World War II days of 1,000 employees. Today, Buffalo Trace Distillery is one of only 2,600 national historic landmarks in the United States, employs nearly 500 workers, and welcomes 165,000 visitors a year who enjoy its lush restored gardens and picturesque campus.
New Orleans historic preservation architects Trapolin-Peer and Ryan Gootee General Contractors have been selected to renovate the structures and plans are being finalized. Sazerac expects the building to be complete by late 2018. Upon completion, Sazerac projects 100,000 visitors in its first year of operation. The purchase price is not being disclosed.