The Sazerac is one of my favorite cocktails. It is also one of the most historic cocktails in America. Originally made with cognac, the Sazerac now is generally made with rye whiskey. In the event that legislative proclamations from the Louisiana legislature hold any weight with you, the Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. Regardless, the Sazerac is a great cocktail and one worth seeking out if you haven’t had the opportunity.
The name Sazerac refers to a brand of cognac that was originally used to make this cocktail, Sazerac de Forge et Fils. The cocktail itself is essentially a combination of either rye whiskey or cognac, Peychaud’s bitters, and a bit of sugar in an absinthe-rinsed glass with a lemon twist. While bartenders and mixology enthusiasts will debate the merits of different absinthes or whiskeys, the key to making a proper Sazerac ultimately comes from using Peychaud’s bitters and from rinsing the glass with absinthe and not leaving a puddle of absinthe to overwhelm the rest of the ingredients.
While the Sazerac is revered in cocktail circles, making one isn’t terribly difficult, and you don’t need to have any special glassware or to know any fancy techniques. Start out with two bucket glasses, one for chilling the glass and one for mixing the whiskey, sugar, and bitters. The chilled glass is then rinsed with absinthe (essentially, the asbinthe is rolled around the inside of the glass and then dumped out), and then the cocktail from the other glass is strained into the absinthe-rinsed glass. A lemon twist is expressed over the surface of the drink, rubbed around the rim of the glass, and then discarded. Voila! A Sazerac.
Here is an easy Sazeraz recipe that will have you making the best cocktails on the block in no time.
The Sazerac Cocktail
Makes one cocktail
- 2 ounce rye whiskey (or cognac)
- 6 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (no substitutions allowed)
- ¼ ounce simple syrup (1-to-1 ratio of sugar and water dissolved over med heat)
- Splash of absinthe
- Lemon peel garnish
- Take two bucket glasses. In the first, add ice to chill the glass and set aside.
- In the second glass, add first 3 ingredients.
- Add ice to the second glass, stir briefly.
- Dump out ice in first glass.
- Add a splash of absinthe to the first glass, swirling to coat the inside of the glass.
- Dump out absinthe.
- Strain the contents of glass two into glass one.
- Express a lemon twist over the surface of the drink and around the rim. Discard.