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Best Beer in Town: 1937

Best Beer in Town: 1937

New Orleans, Louisiana, circa 1937. "Tortorich Restaurant, Royal Street." 8x10 inch acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

The Other side of the Family!

I never thought I'd see any part of my family on Shorpy ... But wonders never cease! Here is my wife's family in front of me.

When the Tortorici family settled in the United States, some went to New Orleans and some landed here in Chicago. Both sides of the family produced great food and greater cooks. I am the fortunate recipient of both great food and a fine wife.

Point of Sale promotions

OTY's eagle-eye spotting of the Schenley sign brought back lots of memories. Two of my prize possessions as a kid were curbside discards thrown out by a liquor-supply salesman who lived two doors down: a Carstair's White Seal table lamp (the seal had the top of the lamp balanced on its nose, and the lampshade revolved -- How great was that to put on the desk in my room?), and a huge four-color map issued by Schenley's at the beginning of World War II that I put up on the wall of our den and used to learn the names and places of just about anywhere in the world.

Nichol and May

Back in the 1950s Jax had some of the most entertaining TV commercials of the day, like this one with Mike Nichols and Elaine May:

But Not for Me

And the sad part was that Jax *was* the best beer in town. Have you ever had the swill that is Dixie? It may hearten some to know that the regional brewery tradition of South Louisiana is being kept alive by Heiner Brau and Abita on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain and that both outfits make truly excellent beers.

Home of the Jax

Although Jax beer is associated with New Orleans, it really belongs, as the name implies, to Jacksonville.

And here is more than you would ever want to know about that.

The Door

Thanks Brooks for the before and after.Why is it when a structure is updated one of the first features to go is the screen door? It is functional, handsome and of all the sounds I have stored away in my feeble memory bank, the sound of a screen door opening and slamming closed is one of my most cherished.

441 Royal

Corner of Royal and St. Louis.

Of Tortorich Restaurant, the 1938 WPA New Orleans City Guide says: "well known for Italian food and seafood specialties."

And Good Eats, too!

Judging by the "menu" written on the walls and windows, Tortorich's is exactly the kind of neighborhood watering hole I remember from my youth, and which I hope still exists. I'll bet the food was delicious.


Next door at 437 Royal was the pharmacy of Antoine Peychaud. He invented "Peychaud's Bitters "which along with absinthe and Rye is basis of the Sazerac cocktail. Some say it is the oldest cocktail (probably a myth). The bitters are still around, and the Sazerac is a New Orleans favorite.

If its appropriate, here's the recipe:

2 ounces Rye Whiskey
5 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
1 sugar cube
splash of Absinthe
lemon peel

Muddle the sugar with the Peychaud's Bitters. Splash the Absinthe into a glass and pour in the Rye followed by the Bitters. Place the lemon peels in the glass and toast to a good life.

Tortorich Restaurant

Opened in 1900 by Louis Tortorichi.

House of Schenley

It's been ages since I've seen that name (their logo is printed above the corner entry to this establishment). We always had liquor in our house and I had all but forgotten about Schenley's. My father was a good friend of the proprietor of the "package store" in our small town and when he bought spirits there, the man always gave him the little "gifts" distributed by the liquor companies. We had in our home endless glass cocktail sticks, bottle top pouring spouts, beer trays, glasses and other novelties which were marked with advertising gadgets. I remember toy white seals (the kind that frolic in the ocean) which were tied around the bottles of Carstair's White Seal liquor and black and white scottie dog figurines from Buchanan's scotch. We just do not see these giveaways anywhere today. As for Jax Brewery, it still exists somewhat intact although it has been gentrified into a trendy and stylin' multi-level tourist attraction full of great places to leave your money. Thanks Shorpy for testing my memory yet again; it is the reason I cannot go even one day without looking at this best ever website...may I say I love you?

"Every bottle sterilized"

Two men are ordering in a restaurant and they both ask for a glass of water. One man adds, "And make sure the glass is clean!"

When the waiter comes back, he's got two glasses of water in his hand and asks the two men, "Which one of you wanted the clean glass?"

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