The Sazerac is a variant of the Old Fashioned cocktail which originated in New Orleans. In essence an Old Fashioned with an absinthe rinsed glass and no ice, it has earned its place in the true classic cocktail list.
Whiskey or Cognac in a Sazerac?
The Sazerac cocktail is also one of a handful of drinks that has two base options – in this case Whiskey or Cognac. It’s New Orleans origin explains the options well. Its in the USA, so Whiskey, but the heritage is French, so Cognac. Both share a number of traits, as barrel aged spirits with dark colour and flavour coming from the raw material as well as the barrel.
History of the Sazerac
The drink originally took its name from “Sazerac de Forge et Fils”, a Cognac imported by Sewell T. Taylor. Taylor’s coffee shop in New Orleans, The Merchant’s Exchange began to import this, and later changed its name to the Sazerac Coffee Shop. Aaron Bird, who took over the coffee shop began serving the cocktail with bitters made by a local apothecary, Antoine Amedie Peychaud. Later in the 1870s, the Phylloxera epidemic in Europe wiped out vineyards, pushing up the price of Cognac. As a result, the recipe was changed to Rye Whiskey, giving us the drink we know today.
The Sazerac made its first appearance in Cocktail Bill’s “The World of Drinks and How to Make them” in 1908. In 2008, it was adopted as the official drink of New Orleans.
How to mix a Sazerac Cocktail
- 2oz (60ml) Rye Whiskey or Cognac
- 1 Sugar Cube
- 2 dashes Peychauds Bitters
- Absinthe to rinse the glass
Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with the absinthe, add crushed ice, and set it aside. Stir the remaining ingredients over ice and set it aside. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing glass or second old-fashioned glass and stir down with cubed ice to chill and dissolve the sugar. Discard the ice and any excess absinthe from the prepared glass, and strain the drink into the glass. Add the lemon peel for garnish.
In the United States where Absinthe was illegal for many years, other anisette is often used. These include pastis, Pernod or Herbsaint.