Masons, Medicines and Cocktail Mixtures
Did you know that a Frenchman who
immigrated to New Orleans (by way of Haiti)
and started an apothecary shop in 1811,
invented the first cocktail?
Antoine Peychaud was a Mason and his
group held their meetings at the "Pharmacie
Peychaud" at 437 Royal Street.  Peychaud,
who served his fellow Masons
refreshments, began experimenting with
bitters, brandy or cognac, sugar and spices.  
The drink was served in a small egg cup
called a "cocquetier."  Soon, he began
selling them in his pharmacy.  His American
customers quickly  turned "cocquetier" into
"coctay," and, eventually, "cocktail."
For many years, the building where Antoine
Peychaud entertained his Masonic group
almost 200 years ago has been owned and
occupied by Cohen Antiques - one of the
oldest family owned businesses in the U.S.  
(Photo at left.)
There's another New Orleans "first" involving a
pharmacist.  "La Pharmacie Francaise," at 514
Chartres Street (now home to The New Orleans
Pharmacy Museum), was opened by Louis Dufilho,
Jr. in 1823.  For awhile, he held a distinction no
other pharmacist in the United States could
claim.  Mr. Dufilho was the first to pass
Louisiana's licensing examination for
pharmacists, making him the first licensed
pharmacist in the United States.  Up to that time,
U.S. pharmacies followed no  regulations or
The Pharmacy Museum, located in Mr. Dufilho's
old building since 1950, contains the largest
pharmaceutical collection in the United States.
A picture of the building as it looked in 1920 is at
right.  Pictures of the rear courtyard are below.  
On the left, 1920, and the one on the right is the
courtyard of the museum as it is today.
While we're on the subject of
firsts, a visitor to the site
submitted a photo taken in
1915.  Photo at right, the
caption on back:  "This
building was the first
drugstore in New Orleans -
Barracks Street, between
Chartres and Decatur."  This
would be in the block across
the street from the Old Mint.  I
don't believe this building's
still standing.
There are no images of the Pharmacie Peychaud or La Pharmacie Francois,
but I thought you might like to see the interior of a pharmacy of the same
era.  This is a museum in Salem, MA, exhibiting items of the period, in a
house that was once an apothecary shop.