The Sazerac may have started its life as far back as the American Civil War, but was originally made with a brand of Cognac manufactured by Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. When Cognac became more difficult (and pricier) to obtain at the end of the 19th century, Rye whisky was used instead and has been the defining alcohol of this drink ever since.
The cocktail is closely associated with New Orleans, where it was originally served in a bar formerly owned by the first importer of the Sazerac Cognac. It is now recognized as the city’s official cocktail, and served in bars throughout its famed French Quarter.
Many modern establishments continue to make the drink with Herbsaint, a local invention that was used in place of Absinthe when the latter was banned in the U.S. until 2007. Herbsaint is a 100-proof anise-flavoured liqueur, also produced by the Sazerac Company. Not to be taken in large quantities.
The other distinguishing ingredient in the Sazerac is the use of Peychaud Bitters. They were created by a Creole apothecary who settled in New Orleans from what is now Haiti. Peychaud Bitters are similar to Angostura Bitters, but with a sweeter taste and a flowery smell. And yes, Peychaud’s is also part of the Sazerac company.
Take the time to make the drink according to the two-glass ritual. If you fancy a whiskey cocktail, you’re sure to enjoy this classic.
Here’s the recipe for making a Sazerac drink, the official cocktail of New Orleans:
- 45ml Rye Whiskey
- 1 sugar cube
- 7.5ml Absinthe or Herbsaint
- 3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
- Lemon twist to garnish
- Muddle the sugar cube in the bottom of an Old Fashioned glass using the three dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
- Add a couple of ice cubes and the Rye Whiskey. Stir gently
- In a second Old Fashioned glass, add the absinthe and roll it around to coat the sides and discard any excess
- Strain the Rye, sugar and bitters mixture into the glass containing the absinthe
- Garnish with a twist of lemon
- Two Old Fashioned glasses