The Sazerac is one of the oldest American cocktails and the official cocktail of New Orleans as proclaimed by the Louisiana Legislature on 23 June 2008.
The Sazerac is said to have been invented in the mid-1800s in New Orleans at the Sazerac Coffee House. It is also credited to Antoine Amédée Peychaud, the creator of Peychaud’s Bitters who ran an apothecary in New Orleans. The drink was originally made with Cognac, specifically the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand but in the late 19th century, when the phylloxera epidemic destroyed the vineyards of Europe, brandy became scarce and rye whiskey was substituted.
The cocktail is essentially an Old Fashioned with a base spirit, sugar and bitters with an absinthe rinse. In The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, the recipe for Sazerac involves adding bitters to a lump of sugar, a method echoed in David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks but modern recipes opt for the use of simple syrup.
For this Sazerac cocktail recipe, we’ve used Cognac but you can substitute rye whiskey in the same proportion. To make the Sazerac, first rinse the glass with Absinthe or the anise-flavoured Herbsaint, another local spirit originally produced in New Orleans.
Here’s how to make the Sazerac cocktail.
Sazerac Cocktail Recipe
- 60 ml Cognac OR rye whiskey
- 15 ml simple syrup
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 15 ml Absinthe or Herbsaint
Glassware: rocks glass
Garnish: lemon peel
Rinse a chilled rocks glass with the Absinthe or Herbsaint. In a mixing glass, add Cognac (or rye whiskey), simple syrup and Peychaud’s Bitters and stir with ice. Strain into the chilled, absinthe-rinse glass. Twist lemon peel above cocktail to express the oils, run along the rim of the glass then discard.
Photo taken at NOLA Smokehouse and Bar in Sydney by Cocktails & Bars – © Copyright: All rights reserved.
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