February 28, 2005

Museum of the American Cocktail

My Kind of Museum:

Start with hundreds of antique liquor bottles. Add Art Deco cocktail shakers, vintage swizzle sticks and tiki cups. Mix well. Serve inside an 1823 French Quarter town house.

The result: The Museum of the American Cocktail.

The brainchild of highbrow alcohol enthusiasts who enjoy talking and reading about liquor nearly as much as consuming it, the museum is an institution of higher mixology, complete with an annual scholarly journal, a library and monthly seminars for bartenders with a thirst for making tastier drinks.

The museum opened last month, with shelves full of drinking paraphernalia, plus a timeline tracing the American cocktail from the early 19th century to Prohibition to the drink's heyday in the 1930s to the 1990s cocktail revival.

But the collection needs a permanent home. Part of it is now on display on the second floor of another quirky Big Easy institution, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. The founders are looking for permanent space in the French Quarter for thousands of drink-related antiques, with extra room for their library, which contains thousands of books -- many from the 1800s -- about drinking, bartending and drink recipes.

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