We Want Your Roosevelt New Orleans Stories!

Posted on: April 21st, 2009 by admin 26 Comments

The Sazerac Bar will be returning to its former glory in The Roosevelt New Orleans, and it will once again serve New Orleans cocktail classics like the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz (recipes below).

But even more important than the drinks are the stories that accompany them. We’re sure the new bar will generate more than its share, but we want to hear about your most memorable visit to The Roosevelt New Orleans. When were you there? What did you order? What do you remember about it?

Share your story in the comments!

Sazerac

  • 1 cube sugar
  • 1 1/2oz rye whiskey
  • 1/4oz Herbsaint
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • lemon peel, for garnish

Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube. Add the rye whiskey to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Ramos Gin Fizz

  • 2oz gin (Old Tom if you can find it)
  • 1oz heavy cream
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2oz lemon juice
  • 1/2oz lime juice
  • 2t sugar
  • 3 drops orange flower water
  • club soda, to top

Shake with cracked ice for at least a minute, and strain into a chilled rocks glass. Top with just a bit of club soda.

26 Responses

  1. Elise S Kaufman says:

    The Roosevelt has been a part of my life since I was little. Who doesn’t remember walking through the lobby covered with “snow” at the Christmas holidays?? It was a wonderland. We always ate at the grill because my father’s office was around the corner on Gravier. The Blue Room was a special “dress up” night. My father -in-law stayed there on business. And my husband & I were married in the Emerald Room on June 2, 1979…30 years ago this year. The bridal suite was beautiful. We look forward to the re-opening of the Roosevelt in 2009.

  2. Murf Reeves says:

    The re-opening will be my first time visiting the Roosevelt, and I am excited to see this classic reborn in this year of 2009, with a new president a new economy and a rebuilding New Orleans. Bringing back a classic helps to maintain a balance that shows the past and future co-existing. And what better to enjoy life unfolding around you than with a Sazerac. Thanks for coming home.

  3. This will also be my first time visiting the Roosevelt. I cannot wait to see this historic landmark restored, and enjoy a cocktail in the famous Sazerac Bar. Cheers!

  4. John DeMajo says:

    Reminiscences of the New Orleans Fairmont-Roosevelt Hotel

    Located at 123 Baronne Street in New Orleans, The Fairmont Hotel (previously the Roosevelt Hotel) originally opened in 1893 as “The Grunewald”. After a few years of operation, it was purchased by a group of New Orleans investors and renamed “The Roosevelt Hotel” (in honor of late former president Theodore Roosevelt). The long time manager in this era was Seymour Weiss. Weiss continued to reside in the penthouse of the Roosevelt even after the sale of the hotel to the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts chain in 1965, and his holdings included many famous works or art..
    “The Blue Room” at the hotel was one of the country’s outstanding venues for dance bands and musical acts.. The hotel also formerly hosted “The Cave”, considered by some the first nightclub in the United States, as well as the Sazerac Bar, the Fountain Lounge, Bailey’s Restaurant, and other notable eateries and lounges.

    The Fairmont New Orleans was severely damaged in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While some repair work was done, work was suspended in an incomplete state in March of 2007 after the scope of the damage was found to be greater than originally estimated.

    Submitted on behalf of John by Jeff Guice – editor@bwsnewsletter.com

  5. Joel Loeffelholz says:

    What great memories of the Roosevelt. Who can forget the Blue Room shows, the lobby both at christmas and all year, the Sunday night buffet in the coffee shop where families would gather for dinner, Sugar bowl time, the Sazerac Bar (had my first Sazerac there when I was 18 years old), Mardi Gras, etc. What a truly grand hotel in every sense of the word. The service was unmatched. They made you feel like you were at home and part of the family in truly southern style and grace.

    Most of all I remember our wedding in the Imperial Ballroom on June 9, 1968. What a fabulous time and the impeccable attention to the smallest of detail by the staff.

    If the “new” Roosevelt is half as good as the original, it will once again be one of the premier hotels in the world.

  6. Frank Levy says:

    I had many wonderful visits to the Roosevelt/Fairmont Hotel. The lobby at Christmas time was such a incredible wonderland for young and old alike. The drinks at the Sazarac as well as the fanciest dining room in the city with the most memorable meals. And the desserts! But my fondest memory at the hotel was seeing and enjoying the Four Tops in the Blue Room. The room was just the right size. You were so close to the performers. I can’t wait for the return of the Roosevelt!

  7. Carroll "Corky" Fernandez Sloan says:

    Oh my goodness, do I have some great memories of the old Roosevelt. I am from Mobile but have been living in NOLA since the 70s when I convinced my father to let me come to college here (St. Mary’s Dominican & Loyola).
    In the 50s, twice a year my mother, an aunt and cousins would take the train from Mobile here to shop and of course we stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel. “Well hello little lady” was the greeting I could always expect to hear. My drink of course was the Shirley Temple and no one could make them like the bartenders at the Roosevelt (they always gave me extra cherries)!!! I still have 1 photo taken with Frankie Lane in the Blue Room as the others were lost in
    Katrina.

    Our tradition continued for years and the memories are still much alive, a child’s view, a young woman’s view of those bygone days.

  8. It will be fantastic to be able to sit at the Sazerac Bar. I hope it will be open in July for the Tales of the Cocktail. Back in 07 I was in town and was saddened to see it was closed. I was misinformed that it will not be reopening. I hope that the bar will be using fresh juices and not that prepackaged sour-mix. Sazerac Bar has the pedigree and lineage that only the fresh juice classic bar-tending should be employed.
    Cheers to all

  9. Franklin Ross says:

    I think my love for the Hotel goes back about 20 years.

    All day I would do my thing then at 5:00 pm sharp

    head for the best and happiest Happy Hour in all the
    world.
    I hope and pray the new mgt. has the good sense to bring
    back this timely and most wonderful New Orleans tradition.
    One, no TWO Abita Ambers, please . . (and free food,too)

  10. Justice D. (Jay) Smyth, III says:

    Some of my fondest memories from childhood have to do with our visits to New Orleans. Our father had business there and in Baton Rouge, and we would sometimes travel with him. We would come into town on the L&N “Hummingbird” passenger train and we would always stay at The Roosevelt Hotel. What a grand place. In fact, what a grand palace!

    We were, of course, too young for the Sazerac Bar but we always enjoyed breakfasts in the hotel’s formal dining room. Our father was a friend of Mr. Seymour Weiss, who at the time was the owner of the hotel and who had worked his way up from the shoeshine stand to the top of the hotel’s management.

    Natives of New Orleans will recall his close and confidential relationship with legendary Governor and Senator Huey Long. I still remember sitting at the breakfast table and, as a twelve year old boy, asking Mr. Weiss whatever happened to the “Deduct Box.” His response was always the same. He would quietly chuckle and then say how amazed he was that “people thought there had ever been such a thing.”

    Along with my wife and our two sons, who are both University of Alabama students, we are looking forward with great anticipation to the re-opening of The Roosevelt under Waldorf-Astoria management. It will mark a great new era for one of the most unique of all American cities.

    As the songwriter wrote: “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?” We do.

    Jay Smyth

  11. Betty K. Schneider says:

    My husband Jack (J.J. Schneider) and I spent many happy hours at the Roosevelt. We visited the Fountain Lounge on many occasions (the lounge being less pricey than the Blue Room). We made many visits to the Fountain Lounge to listen and dance to the orchestra with our good friends Frankie & Blackie Beaullieu. The Roosevelt was just a WONDERFUL place to go and we have many, many happy memories of our time there.

    –Betty Schneider, Lafayette, LA

  12. Frances Barth Garland says:

    I am so excited that you are opening!To walk through the angel hair lobby at Christmas is a childhood memory I cherish! As a high school girl (1948-51) we went to the Sazerac Bar after dances, and were served Tom Collins! There were no age limits! I know the waiters moaned when all those starched petticoats came in!And we were 16 or 17 when we graduated. The Blue Room was a beautiful experience! Only special dates went there! My last time was in the 70s when we took parents to hear The Ink Spots. Please get them back. Thank you, thank you, for restoring our beautiful hotel and memories!

  13. Judith McGee says:

    I originally stayed at the Hotel in February 1976 and was awed by its history and wonderful grandeur. Upon returning in December 2008 I was happy to hear that will be re-opening in 2009, and intend to return.

  14. Lois Hill says:

    What memories! It was in the ’50′s and I was celebrating my birthday in the Blue Room. The waiters delivered my cake and were singing Happy Birthday when I noticed two people heading to my table. Much to my surprise it was Connie Hanes who was appearing at the Roosevelt and James Dunn, the movie star, who was appearing at the Civic Theater. The offered their congratulations to me and when we invited them to sit with us to enjoy my cake they were delighted. I was so thrilled that to this day I don’t remember what kind of cake it was or how it tasted. Only in New Orleans and only at the Roosevelt. Welcome back, we’ve missed you.

  15. Raymond G. Taff says:

    I like many Americans never got to visit the Blue Room but listened to the music of the Leon Kelner Band and others on clear channel WWL. The images that a young man could conjure up of a place call New Orleans.

    It’s nice that some of the old places are being restored and maybe I can visit the new old Blue Room to see if the images of old are still there.

  16. Suzann Byers says:

    The Roosevelt Hotel is very special to me.

    My Grandparents and I would stay there 2 weeks in the spring (March) and 2 weeks in late Summer (August) form the time I could walk to about my 6th birthday; my grandfather retired and we no longer when to the Medical meetings. (this was in the sixties) I always loved the lobby area it was so grand, the rotating doors and it seemed there was always a sales cabins with orchids for sale.
    On one trip my grandparents took me to the Blue Room and we saw the Andrew Sisters.

    I can’t wait to see the Roosevelt and all its original splendor…..

    Suzann Byers
    Hallsville, Texas

  17. John Henry says:

    Dear Sirs, Madam,
    I am a resident of Denver CO and enjoyed reading about your renovating The Roosevelt Hotel.
    I have in my possession a September 1953 Menu which opens 3 fold. One side is a cartoon like map from Lake
    Pontchartrain to the West Bank of the Mississippi River featuring all the attractions to see and their streets.
    The September 1953 map and Roosevelt menu, measures 21.5″ x 24.5″. The other side contains The A La Carte and Drinks Menu.
    There is one Coffee Shop Dinner Menu dated February 5 1954 attached to the menu by a paper clip.
    There is another attachable Menu showing the Appetizers, Entrees and Desserts.
    Also included is an attachable card stating, ‘Our Famous Assorted French Pastry’ 40 cents each.
    There is a small card saying, A Roosevelt Specialty- Broiled Fresh Chiken Livers on buttered toast, Demi Julienne Potatoes, Salad, assorted Rolls and Butter. Coffee Shop price $1.60.
    Lastly, a card reading Roast Prime Rib of Beef, natural gravy, mashed potatoes, bread and butter, Coffee, Tea, or Milk.
    Coffee Shop price $2.50

    This old Menu may be prominently displayed for your customers to reminece with.

    If interested in the purchase of this Memorable, Delightful and Historic Menu, (that I am very sure your patrons would enjoy veiwing) please contact John Henry for further detail and/or discussions.
    email; paypergold@yahoo.com

    Thank you for your time.

    .

  18. Kay Lynn Jones says:

    My very favorite picture of my parents (they are now in their 80′s) is one of those pictures taken by a roaming photographer. The table was in the Blue Room at the Roosevelt Hotel. They had to have been about 20 years old, full of life, beautiful and dressed to the “nines”. They were there with another couple at a beautiful table and having a wonderful time. This had to be about 1949 or so. I love to look at it every time I get out the family pictures. This opening brought back a wonderful memory as I’m sure the hotel does for so many people. So glad the Blue Room is beautiful again.

    Kay Lynn Jones
    Sanborns Travel Service

  19. Isabel Messina says:

    My husband, Andrew, and I, just finished seeing the ad announcing the re-opening of The Roosevelt. By all accounts it’s going to be spectacular! we can’t wait. So here are my fond memories:
    1. ’55 – ’56: Elvis played the Municipal Auditorium! After his show we slipped away from my friends Aunt who was so gracious to take us to the show. We heard Elvis was staying at The Roosevelt, so off to the hotel we went. We got on to fire escape and climbed up the Canal Street side to no avail! Needless to say, when we got home we were punished for good.
    2. When I graduated high school in the ’60s, after mass, the nuns reserved the Blue Room for our luncheon. My mom and oldest brother were my escorts. I still have the photo to remember that special day!
    3. My husband and I started dating August 1963, and he was hosting some of his family who were visiting from Chicago. Naturally, it was at the Blue Room…K Starr was featured with the Leon Kelner house band. When we came down those stairs, his cousin elbowed her husband and said her cousin, Andrew, was sunk. We married in 11-30-63! And so many more shows we continued to see. Then there was the glorious season of Christmas. What a breath-taking scene that was. The Angel Hair Lobby, the Christmas Tea for the grandchildren, story telling by local celebrities and so much more. Grand times in a grand hotel. Now I’m praying we get to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in the Blue Room where it all began in 1963.
    Fondly,
    Isabel and Andrew Messina

  20. Kim Shackleton says:

    I have literally heard about the Roosevelt Hotel my entire life. My parents, Charles and Marian Gant of Baton Rouge, spent their honeymoon at the Roosevelt in July, 1944. My dad had turned 18 in September and enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Baton Rouge High. They decided to elope before he shipped out (apparently a common occurance during WWII). They returned to Baton Rouge where my mother’s parents insisted they have a proper marriage and a proper honeymoon. On July 17, 1944 they were married (again!) in the parlor of Sacred Heart Church and drove to New Orleans to the Roosevelt Hotel. They spent that first night in a suite (my mom think’s it was the Honeymoon Suite). The room charge $18. The room was so extravagant that they called some local friends (at .10 per call) to come join them in the room. They stayed at the hotel for two additional nights, but moved to a regular room ($7 per night) because of the steep rate! They still have the original receipt for the stay: $32.20!
    This year they will celebrate their 65 wedding anniversary. We are planning for them to spend those same 3 nights, July 17, 18 and 19, at the hotel where it all began. Maybe this time they can stay in the Honeymoon Suite all three days!

    Kim Shackleton
    New Orleans

  21. Alan Fortier says:

    My name is Alan Fortier and wanted to take a moment to introduce myself and my wife (Celeste) and tell you what I think is an interesting human interest story regrading the Sazerac Bar. I am originally from Portland, Oregon and my first trip to New Orleans five years ago was with my then ‘girlfriend, Celeste who is originally from Baton Rouge. Our first stop was the Sazerac bar at the then Fremont Hotel. I was intrigued with the history of the bar and then had my first Sazerac which to this day is still my favorite cocktail. Shortly thereafter we moved to the Northshore where we now have a home in Covington on the Bogue Falaya river. We purchased a boat which is a restored 1947 triple Cockpit. This is an all mahogany runabout that you would think of as an old Chris Craft although it was built my another firm. When we bought the boat there was no question as to its new name “Sazerac”. Sazerac has won ‘Best in Show’ at the Madisonville Wooden boat Festival, been in a Paramount movie (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and used for weddings and other social type of activities.

    The whole point of the note is to let you know what an interesting play the Sazerac Bar has been in our life and we are very excited that the Roosevelt and Sazerac bar will be re-opening with the beauty and splendor of old.

    Alan & Celeste Fortier

  22. Lee Caplan says:

    On December 19, 1961, Ralph Caplan and I, Leonie Lampert, got engaged at the Sazerac Bar. I was so excited; I had just turned 19 years old. We both were drinking a Sazerac cocktail and Ralph put the ring box in the middle of the table. My heart started to pound. Slowly, he pushed the box closer and closer to me. When I opened the ring box, it was empty! He had my engagement ring in his pocket! It was his humor then and has continued for 47 years.

    We will celebrate our 47 years of marriage and Ralph’s 75th birthday by having a Sazerac Cocktail in the Sazerac Bar, going to the new Blue Room and staying at The Roosevelt Hotel.

    We are looking forward to the weekend.

  23. Suzanne Danna-Harlan says:

    How exciting to see an “old friend” resurrected. The Roosevelt no matter it’s long ago name change to The Fairmont has always remained The Roosevelt to New Orleanians who grew up celebrating their most happy soirees there. As a very young child I spent many an evening in The Blue Room listening to my father perform in the orchestra ~ I had the privilege of watching the performances and meeting Sophie Tucker, Frankie Laine, Kay Starr, Louis Prima & Keely Smith, Miguelito Valdes, Guy Lombardo, Peggy Lee, Leon Kellner’s magnificent orchestra, Gordon & Albert Kirsch and so many others. My family’s birthdays, holidays, weddings and anniversaries were celebrated en masse there and in February 1957 as a new bride, Seymour Weiss made arrangements to hold up the Mardi Gras parade until our entourage exited Sacred Heart Church on Canal in order that we could make our way to our reception at The Roosevelt. I have so many lovely and warm memories of charming & delightful times spent in that beautiful and welcoming home away from home that I could write a book. I look forward with anticipation to returning with my entire family and hopefully imbuing our newest generation with as many wonderful memories as I have of The Roosevelt. My compliments to the Waldorf Astoria for having the vision to bring The Roosevelt back.

  24. Jim Grunewald says:

    My great-great-grand father, Louis Grunewald, built this hotel. I visited friends in New Orleans and Baton Rouge last fall (’08) and was given a tour of the restoration. From what I saw then, it looked like they were doing a great job restoring it to it’s original glory! The pictures I’ve seen just confirm that opinion. I know Louis would be very proud of what was done with “his” hotel!

    I used to eat in the Sazerac Room occasionally when I lived in New Orleans. One time I was dating a girl named Bruce (honest, that was her real name!) and we had the same birthday so I took her to the Sazerac Room to celebrate. When I made our reservations for dinner I told them it was Jim and Bruce’s birthday. Their used to be a man who played the accordion and another who sang for the guests while they ate their meal. Of course they would sing “Happy Birthday” to those celebrating their birthdays. They brought out our birthday cake and started to sing. However, when they got to “… Happy birthday to…” they didn’t know what to do since they must have expected two men named Jim and Bruce, but instead saw a man and a woman!

    My wife and I spent our wedding night in a suite in 1982. My mom wanted to surprise us and called the hotel to tell them she would pay for our bill. Somehow that message didn’t get to the front desk so I waited in line and paid. When my mother, who picked us up to go the airport for our honeymoon, asked what took me so long, I told her I was paying the bill so her surprise was lost.

    I’m hoping to go to New Orleans this fall. I can’t wait to stay at my great-great-grand father’s old hotel again!

  25. Ellen Pierce says:

    I was at the Sazerac on the morning of 9/11. I had a Bloody Mary as we watched the coverage on TV. The conference that I was attending came to a halt and the Fairmont aired the coverage in the conference room for the many attending that were from NYC and had friends and family in the city. A very emotional visit to the Sazerac that I will always remember.

  26. Mike Greenfield says:

    I was 12 years old in 1947 and went to New Orleans with my father, who didn’t believe in reservations. That problem was exacerbated by the fact that we arrived during Mardi Gras! I never inquired how he did it, but we walked in “cold” to the Roosevelt and, believe it or not, Dad was able to get a very nice room. It was a truly memorable trip, and I’ve been to N.O. many times since, including for my honeymoon, and have returned a number of times to the Fairmont through the years. Great city and great hotel.

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