Sazerac Cocktail Recipe

The official cocktail of New Orleans. Rye, sugar, Peychaud’s bitters, absinthe, and lemon peel.

Sazerac Recipe

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.

New Orleans was a blast. Patty and I flew down with her sister and brother-in-law to visit her other sister who was travel nursing in the city. Patty had been a handful of times but this was my first New Orleans experience. We landed at 11PM, exhausted on a Friday night and somehow managed to pull off a crazy, 5AM night out at the bars. Enter sazerac.

You bet you can order yourself a sazerac (or unique spinoff) at any bar worth it’s 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. New Orleans is truly a city that appreciates the art of the craft cocktail…oh and food—don’t even get me started on the beignets (I still see them in my dreams. More on that later).

Sazerac Ingredients

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 gives 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?

Combine all ingredients (except the lemon peel) in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled double old fashioned glass and serve neat. 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.

Downtown New Orleans
Photo Credit: Visit New Orleans
Sazerac Cocktail Recipe
Sazerac Cocktail Recipe

Sazerac Cocktail Recipe

  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: 1 1x



  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.