Putting My Feet Up in New Orleans
The next day I hop off the Green Line at Canal Street feeling excited and
return to the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum at 514 Chartre Street.
girl there tells me she does not know where Antoine Peychaud had his shop. She acts
like she has never heard of Peychaud and tries
to get me interested in the shop of Louis Dufilho, the first licensed
pharmacist in the United States. But it's a tough sell with me. I am more
interested in Peychaud—this unlicensed, or illegal pharmacist, if you
want to call him that—than in this Dufilho fellow. For one thing, it appears that Peychaud was operating in
New Orleans before Dufilho. Dufilho didn't show up till 1823, whereas
Peychaud was there in the 1790s. Plus Dufilho didn't mix any hot cocktails,
let along invent a whole new industry. Lacking Antoine Peychaud, New Orleans may
never have put its feet up nor been dubbed the Big Easy.
I left Dufilho's shop
feeling a little down—depressed, if you want to be more clinical about it—and started wandering. People in a state of depression often do that, I
understand. After awhile I found myself at Jackson Square and then at the French Market. I was cheered
a little by the sound of live jazz music and the sight of waiters in white
wielding beautiful plates of food to tables in open-air restaurants. Finally I found myself
standing on Esplande Avenue staring into space until something prompted me
to wander down to Frenchman Street. I have no idea why. A friend in San Francisco had mentioned
jazz clubs down there—the Blue Nile, the Spotted Cat ... and the guides I
met on Canal Street on my first day out in the French Quarter had mentioned
Frenchman too. They had warned me to be careful there.
It's just outside the French Quarter on the North side and not as safe.
I felt a little more alive now, imagining some danger lurking.
But that was all nonsense. At this time
of the day Frenchman Street was dead and the jazz clubs were not even open. I looked for something that was. On
the corner of Frenchman and Royal I spotted Mavigy Brasserie. I liked its
looks and went in. On the bar was a large bottle of Peychaud's famous
bitters. Perhaps I could order one more Sazerac before giving up
the quest for the famous apothecary's shop.
I asked the bartender if
he could fix me one—"with ice in the glass," I added. I expected
"However you want it," he said cheerfully.
His name was
He stirred the ingredients, filled a glass to the top with ice,
I was amazed. It was now very drinkable.
Luke my troubles. First I told him about finding that the Sazerac Coffee
House was now a parking lot at the
Holiday Inn. Then I said:
"Today I have been searching for Peychaud's
old shop—you know, the bitters guy, or the guy who made them—but no one seems
to know where it was. I'm about to give up".
Then I was even
"I know where it was," Luke said, "437 Royal. I used to work
He said there was an antique gun shop there now—that
is where he used to work. I recollected walking by it earlier and
staring in the window at some old muskets.
I was way up the river and
didn't want to walk back to Canal Street in the heat, so I took the Red Line
tram back down along the river side of the French Quarter to Canal Street. I
was overjoyed. How could I have been so low just half an hour earlier? Were
such rapid mood changes really possible? Whoopee! I guess so. I would pay the
antique gun store a visit tomorrow. I didn't want to press my luck
anymore today. It would be devastating if my new lead were wrong.