The Sazerac is the quintessential New Orleans drink, and a testament to the entrepreneurial American spirt. A pharmacist and a Cognac producer coming together, not only to create an astounding drink, but also to create the foundations for the city’s cocktail scene.
The complex cocktail is unique in more than one way. There’s a technique to it, but getting it right is immensely satisfying. Here’s all you need to know about the Sazerac Cocktail, its history, variations and a recipe. If you’re not a fan of the Sazerac already, you’ll soon become one.
History of the Sazerac Cocktail
The Sazerac Cocktail was created in New Orleans in the 1830s. It came from an exciting collaboration between Antoine Peychaud, a pharmacist and Sazerac de Forge et Fils, a French Cognac maker who had just founded a bar in New Orleans, the Sazerac House.
The Sazerac House became a success because it featured excellent Cognac and the best bitters in town, Peychaud’s. The Sazerac cocktail was born, and it results from a remarkably successful joint venture between two New Orleans entrepreneurs — they changed the city’s cocktail scene forever.
As mentioned above, an authentic Sazerac cocktail is made with Sazerac Cognac, but you can use any Cognac for similar results. Interestingly, with a ban on French spirits in 1890, bartenders were forced to substitute it with rye whiskey, and today some people make their Sazerac with whiskey, not Cognac. Other folks, just add a little of both!
Then you need bitters, and if you have Peychaud’s, even better. Any bitters will do, though. Just a few drops add aromatic and a pleasant bitterness to the drink.
Finally, there’s the absinthe, and the ‘green fairy’ makes the drink unique. You just need to rinse the glass with it to bless the drink with the most attractive anise aromas!
Variations and Substitutions
It’s time to choose. Are you a whiskey or Cognac person? The most crucial variation in the Sazerac cocktail is choosing your spirit. Don’t worry; it’s delicious both ways. (Pro Tip: Add a little of both!)
The Bananarac is a fun Sazerac variation that calls for a splash of high-quality banana liqueur and uses both rye whiskey and Armagnac (Cognac’s cousin).
The Sazerac Spritz is a regular Sazerac topped with Champagne or sparkling wine. Turn your favorite New Orleans drink into a tall fizzy drink!
The Always Summer Sazerac calls for a splash of Creme de Cassis (black currant liqueur), and it certainly gives the drink a berry-licious personality!
- Mixing glass
- Bar spoon
- Rocks glass
- 1/2-ounce Absinthe
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
- 2 ounces of Cognac (or Rye Whiskey)
- Lemon peel for garnish
- Add the sugar cube, bitters and water, and muddle in the mixing glass until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour in the rye whiskey or Cognac and stir with the bar spoon for about 10 seconds.
- Pour the absinthe in the rock’s glass, spread it all around and throw it out.
- Fill the rock’s glass with ice and pour the cocktail through the strainer.
- Garnish with lemon peel.