NEW ORLEAN (WGNO) – The Sazerac Company has purchased two buildings on the corner of Canal and Magazine Street with plans to rehab the nearly 200-year-old buildings and turn them into The Sazerac House visitor attraction and beverage museum.
The buildings are adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel and only a few hundred yards from the original 1850 Sazerac Coffee House site.
Visitors will be able to learn about the spirited history of the iconic Sazerac cocktail, the official cocktail of New Orleans, as well as many other original New Orleans brands, along with exploring the unique role New Orleans has played in the bourbon and rum industries and in American cocktail culture.
The buildings will also include a gift shop and Sazerac company offices, with a projection of 60 employees eventually working there, 45 of which will be new positions.
The buildings, which have sat vacant for more than 30 years, date back to the mid-1800s and contain rich architectural details including wood floors, high ceilings, over-sized 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, employing nearly 500 workers, and welcoming 165,000 visitors a year who enjoy its lush gardens and picturesque campus.
Local historic preservation architects Trapolin-Peer and Ryan Gootee General Contractors have been selected to renovate The Sazerac House and plans are being finalized for the nearly 50,000 total square foot facilities. The historic renovation will start in the next coming months, and Sazerac expects the building to be complete by late 2018. Upon completion, Sazerac is projecting 100,000 visitors its first year of operation. The purchase price is not being disclosed.
Sazerac, a family-owned company based in New Orleans since 1850, is one of America’s oldest family owned, privately held distillers with operations in Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, California, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.