I was all about the Sazerac cocktail before I went to New Orleans and jumped on the infamous Sazerac bandwagon. A classic cocktail originating in NOLA’s French Quarter in the mid-1800’s. Yes, the 1800’s. Something I find to this day, absolutely fascinating.
Maybe I’m a nerd, but the idea of sipping a cocktail crafted nearly 200 years ago is amazing. There are so few things in life that really survive the test of time as deliciously as classic cocktails.
You bet you can order yourself a Sazerac (or unique spinoff) at any bar worth its salt in New Orleans and get it made beautifully. Bourbon Street and all the wild NOLA traditions aside, the food and cocktail scene is off the hook.
The Sazerac recipe is an interesting combo of rye whiskey (I like Sazerac Rye), sugar (simple syrup), absinthe, and lemon peel, all pulled together by Peychaud’s bitters. The bitters give the cocktail a distinct reddish hue and floral aroma. Don’t try to substitute or leave it out. It’s the most essential ingredient.
How to Make a Sazerac Cocktail
The sazerac starts out with what’s called an absinthe rinse. Shawn, am I showering in absinthe? No, but I wish I was. Essentially you pour a bar spoon of absinthe in your serving glass and twirl it around to coat the interior of the glass with a lining of absinthe. Discard the rest or shoot it back like I do!
Combine all remaining ingredients (except the lemon peel) in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into the absinthe coated double old fashioned glass and serve neat….no rocks for this one.
The Sazerac is bold, smooth, and refreshing with a fresh lemon aroma and taste. Somewhat similar to the old fashioned in terms of makeup, but with a more prominent citrusy flavor.
The Lemon Peel is a Flavor Element, Not Just a Garnish
A tip on expressing the oils from a lemon peel: You want to point the outer peel (non-pith side) outward facing the Sazerac and gently squeeze the edges so the oils spray out over the top of the drink. If done properly, you can actually see an oily film floating on the surface of your cocktail. The aroma should hit your nose as you sip.
If you’re serious about making the Sazerac cocktail, buy some absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters, and Mardi Gras beads, and hit the ground running. You’ll thank New Orleans and New Orleans will thank you.
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The official cocktail of New Orleans. The Sazerac is made with rye, sugar, Peychaud’s bitters, absinthe, and lemon peel.
- 1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey (Try Sazerac Rye)
- 1 sugar cube and splash of water or (1/4 ounce simple syrup)
- 3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- Absinthe rinse
- Lemon peel
- Place a barspoon of absinthe into a chilled old fashioned glass. Twirl to coat the inside of the glass. Discard the excess and set aside.
- In a mixing glass, muddle 1 sugar cube with a dash of water until mixed well. Add whiskey and bitters and a cup of ice. Stir vigorously for 15 seconds and strain into the old fashioned glass.
- Twist and squeeze the lemon peel over the cocktail to release the oils. Rub the rim of the glass with the peel and drop it into the cocktail and serve.
If you don’t have a sugar cube use roughly one teaspoon of sugar.
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