The Old Absinthe House

The Old Absinthe House, 240 Bourbon Street, ca. 1890s. Louisiana Photograph Collection]

New Orleanians joined the multitude of profoundly smashed absinthe enthusiasts all over the world shortly before the corner room at Bourbon and Bienville became Aleix's Coffeehouse in 1846. A Spanish importing firm, Font & Juncadella, had constructed the building at 240 Bourbon Street in 1806. On the ground floor, food, wine, and other goods from Barcelona were sold. A shoe shop and a grocery store occupied the site before it finally became a "coffeehouse" (the nineteenth-century euphemism for drinking establishment).

In 1874 Cayetano Ferrer leased Aleix's and christened it the Absinthe Room after its most popular beverage. The saloon was first called The Old Absinthe House in 1890, and the Absinthe Frappe dripped gaily from fountains until the Feds enforced the Volstead Act in 1920.

[Kerri McCaffety, Obituary Cocktail: The Great Saloons of New Orleans (1998) p. 30]