Since 2002, visitors of New Orleans and locals can discover the city’s rich history and cocktail tradition by taking the New Orleans Original Cocktail Walking Tour, an initiative launched by Ann Rogers Tuennerman, the founder of Tales of the Cocktail, with Joe Gandusa, a retired history teacher originary from New Orleans.
While walking you to some of the Big Easy’s historical bars and restaurants, Joe or one of the other guides deliver informative and fun facts about NOLA and the venues’ history and architecture as well as the city’s cocktail culture and history. Tour participants liked the stories Joe was telling them so much that many told him he should write a book about them. That’s what he finally did in 2008. New Orleans History With A Twist – Lemon or Lime is essentially Joe in paperback form. With approximately 70 pages, it is a fast and easy read, yet very informative.
After a foreword by Ann Roger Tuennerman, a word of introduction by Joe and a few words about some spirits and liquors, Joe will take you to 16 New Orleans favourite bars and restaurants (they also serve cocktails, remember), tell you about their history and share some amusing anecdotes about them. I particularly liked the one about regulars helping a restaurant move to its new location by carrying its chairs, tables, silverware and dishes, all the while lead by a marching jazz band! Reading Joe’s book you’ll also learn about one story about the origin of the world “cocktail” and about the origins of some bitters and cocktails. Talking about cocktails, the book is also filled with recipes – some house specialties and other New Orleans favourites – you can easily reproduce at home. Although, after reading through the book, you might be tempted to book the first flight out to New Orleans to enjoy your drink there on site! In that case, book the cocktail walking tour and learn about cocktail culture in New Orleans from the man himself!
On a side note: as the name of the book is a bit long and complicated I searched it on Amazon to see how they shortened it. I was in for a massive shock, not about the book’s name but about its selling price: $1053! I thought “surely there’s a mistake” and searched again on Amazon and on other websites. The cheaper prices I found were £147, €188, $500 for first editions from 2008! I bought a 5th edition, dating from 2015, at the Tales Bookstore during Tales of the Cocktail 2016 for a mere $10 or $20! I’ll save it preciously.