The Sazerac is a cocktail originally made with brandy; its unique flavor comes from the addition of Peychaud’s Bitters and the Herbsaint. “She has a weakness for Sazerac Slings; give her even the fruit and she swings.” So go the lyrics to Stephen Sondheim’s “Have I Got a Girl for You,” from his 1970 Broadway hit Company. The Sazerac was en vogue during that era of experimentation with exotic cocktails, but now it is rarely found outside the city of its birth, New Orleans.
Creole apothecary Antoine Peychaud, who moved to New Orleans from the West Indies and set up shop in the French Quarter in the early 1800s, is credited with the earliest version of this drink. He mixed aromatic bitters from an old family recipe with brandy, water, and sugar for his ailing clients. What precisely ailed them is not known, but enough people suffered from the affliction that the concoction became the basis for what some historians claim to be the first true cocktail. While this is open to dispute, few will argue that the Sazerac is New Orleans’s preeminent contribution to mixology. By the 1850s, the drink was served at the Sazerac Coffee House, which took its name from the Sazerac-de-Forget et Fils brandy imported by the establishment’s owner, John B. Schiller. The bar changed hands, and new owner Thomas Handy updated the recipe by substituting American whiskey and adding a splash of absinthe for color—if not color-blindness. When absinthe was banned, Herbsaint, a New Orleans version of the licorice-tasting pastis, was... read more
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 1/2 ounces rye or American whiskey
- 2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
- Dash of angostura bitters
- Dash of absinthe (can substitute Herbsaint, Pernod, or Ricard)
- Twist of lemon peel
- Fill an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Put the sugar cube in a second Old Fashioned glass with just enough water to moisten it; then crush the cube.
- Add the rye, the two bitters, and a few cubes of ice, and stir. Discard the ice from the first glass, and pour in the absinthe.
- Turn the glass to coat the sides with the absinthe; then pour out the excess. Strain the rye mixture into the absinthe-coated glass. Twist and squeeze a lemon peel over the glass. Rub the rim of the glass with the peel, discarding it when finished.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by
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