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Portrait courtesy of Diana Lehman

Joseph Santini


One of the most famous bartenders of the mid-19th Century; invented the Brandy Crusta, an important fancy drink

Santini owned and operated the “Jewel of the South” coffee house (bar) beginning in 1855, and also later “the Parlor”, both on Gravier Street. His “Jewel” was pretty much the fanciest bar in New Orleans in its day, and Santini was the first of New Orleans’ famous bartenders. Jerry Thomas may have visited the bar at some point, as at least three of Santini’s drinks—the Brandy Crusta, the Frozen Egg Nogg and a poussé café—are included in Thomas’ seminal 1862 book. Moreover, Santini is the only bartender Thomas mentions by name in his book, although he mispells it, and mis-identifies Santini as Spanish. Santini’s Brandy Crusta is the critical innovation where citrus juice from punches and the old-school Sour cross over into the Cocktail, kick-starting the great expansion in the scope of cocktails, and directly anticipating the popular drinks of today, such as the Sidecar and Margarita. Santini is buried in Saint Louis Cemetery Number 3, in New Orleans.

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