Want to try making the traditional Sazerac cocktail? All you need are five ingredients: Sazerac Rye, Peychaud’s Bitters, Herbsaint, a sugar cube and a lemon peel to make New Orleans’ official cocktail!
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Where the Sazerac was born
Although the city of New Orleans is home to many classic cocktails, there is only one that has the honor of being its official cocktail, and that is the Sazerac.
The Sazerac cocktail has an origin story that really spans hundreds of years. It starts with the word Sazerac first, which comes from a name of a family in the Cognac region of France. For hundreds of years, this family was distilling eau-de-vie in France, which we would call brandy or cognac. You might hear me say French brandy and cognac interchangeably, because when you talk about drinking in 19th century in New Orleans, they probably would have called it brandy, but sometimes cognac.
The drinking establishments in New Orleans at the time were called coffee houses and the Sazerac House opened in 1852. The Sazerac House was a place that you would go and you would order all of the different popular drinks of the time, including classic cocktails.
If you want to learn all about how the Sazerac came to be, then check out the Lush Life episode: How to Drink the Sazerac with Rhiannon Enlil, Sazerac House!
Disclaimer: Some of these posts contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means that I may receive compensation if you click on these links and buy something, but, don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime!
How to make the Sazerac
The official Sazerac recipe is made by taking a tumbler, rocks glass or old-fashioned glass and filling it with ice to get it nice and chilled. In a second old-fashioned glass, you’re going to take a sugar cube (or simple syrup if you’re lazy) and muddle it with three dashes Peychaud’s Bitters. You’re muddling it basically so that the sugar dissolves.
Then in that same glass, you add an ounce and a half of Sazerac Rye Whiskey, and then you add ice cubes and you stir it until it’s chilled and diluted. Essentially from there, you take that glass that had ice in it to get it nice and frosty cold, you dump out the ice. Now you’ve got a chilled prepared glass. Strain your American rye whiskey, Peychaud’s sugar mixture into that chilled tumbler after it’s been rinsed with Herbsaint. It’s kind of a coated Herbsaint chilled glass that you’re straining it into, and then you garnish with a twist of lemon. It’s a pretty simple drink. It’s got five ingredients, but the ritual of making it is part of that story, and it’s part of the tradition in New Orleans.
What are Peychaud’s Bitters
In the late 1800s, a guy named Antoine Amédée Peychaud was making his own version of bitters down the road from the Sazerac House. Peychaud’s Bitters was his proprietary blend of different botanicals and they’re unique from a spicy aromatic bitters in that there’s a really strong component of dried citrus notes and anise in this particular blend. We don’t have the recipe for Peychaud’s Bitters. It’s a very, very secret recipe.
Why use Herbsaint
Absinthe was wildly popular in New Orleans, because of their French heritage. New Orleanians still are much more appreciative of that anise flavor. In Europe, almost every country has some kind of anise spirit or an anise liqueur and the United States, for some reason, just kind of drifted away from that particular flavor.
Because absinthe was so popular with bohemians and artists, it was starting to get a bad rap and there was a long campaign of bad publicity backed by not real science and unfortunately, a couple of tragedies that made salacious news. Absinthe became a demonized spirit and it was banned in Europe and various countries. It ended up being banned in the United States in 1912. So suddenly it was no longer allowed to be brought in or consumed. And it stayed that way for almost a hundred years. The absinthe was banned all throughout the 1900s and into the early 2000s.
So we use Herbsaint as our absinthe substitute. That is the official rinse of the cocktail.
What tools you need to make the Sazerac
You’ll need to stir this one quite a bit, depending on how boozy you like this. If you want it sweeter, you can always add a touch of simple syrup or demerara syrup.
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Where to find more American whiskey recipes
Here are a few of my favorites:
Where to find the best Sazerac in the world
Of course, Sazerac House in the French Quarter of New Orleans! You find great Sazeracs at the Jewel of the South, which is a great courtyard bar and restaurant, as well as Peychaud’s Bar, where they make fantastic cocktails and have a beautiful courtyard.
Where to find ingredients for the Sazerac
Here is the recipe:
- 1.5 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
- 1 Sugar cube
- 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
- .25 oz Herbsaint
- Lemon twist
- Take two old-fashioned rocks glasses
- In the first one, add ice to chill and set aside
- In the second one, muddle a sugar cube with the three dashes of Peychaud's bitters
- Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey, then add ice and stir
- Take the first glass, empty the ice and coat the glass with Herbsaint, then discard any excess
- Strain the contents from the second glass into your Herbsaint rinsed glass
- Garnish with a lemon twist
Disclaimer: Some of these posts contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you click on these links and buy something, but, don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime! As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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