The Sazerac cocktail recipe is one of the most popular drink recipes found in New Orleans, Louisiana. The original recipe dated back to the early 1800s and was created by Antoine Peychaud, who served his concoction in a wine glass.
The New Orleans Sazerac is a drink that is rooted in history and rules. We will be making this fantastic cocktail at home, and we won’t break a single rule while we do it. The Sazerac cocktail definition is simple: rye whiskey or Cognac, bitters, sugar, and Herbsaint liqueur (a French absinthe substitute). But creating your own version of this classic New Orleans cocktail still involves some basic rules and guidelines for preparation.
Sazeracs are New Orleans’ signature alcoholic beverage. What makes them so unique?
In 1830, New Orleans was suffering terribly. The clouds of smoke from burning sugar cane, which produced most of the city’s wealth, gave the city an unbearable stench. The city’s primary source of freshwater, Lake Pontchartrain, was dying.
A group of Frenchmen, led by Antoine Peychaud, a popular barkeep, got together and devised a drink they hoped would help. They used rye whiskey, brandy, and sugar, and the result was a lusciously sweet, slightly sparkling, slightly sour drink.
The drink caught on, and soon it had become the most popular drink in New Orleans. It became so popular, in fact, that in August 1834, the New Orleans legislature voted to tax it. The Frenchmen fought back, and the drink became a symbol of resistance to a corrupt city government.
The drink was well-known, in fact, that people began calling it The Sazerac. Peychaud, who made his fortune from selling the drink, went back to France, where he began promoting it with great success.
It’s sometimes claimed that the Sazerac is the original cocktail. That honor goes to something simply called the “Cock-tail,” which we now know as an Old Fashioned, predating all of this by at least 50 years.
How to Make the Popular New Orleans Sazerac
- Place ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass.
- In a glass, mix 3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters with a sugar cube.
- Put 1 1/2 ounce Sazerac Rye Whiskey in the Peychauds Bitters and add sugar.
- Put the ice in the glass, coat it with 1/4 ounce of Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint.
- Strain the whiskey, bitters, and sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Note: You can use any good rye whiskey, such as Old Overholt, Jim Beam, or Rittenhouse. But if you’d like to try the Sazerac Cocktail at home, simple syrup is an excellent alternative to sugar cubes.
A perfectly balanced cocktail is a beautiful thing. This recipe takes a different approach by pairing elements in a way that otherwise wouldn’t be expected.
The result is a drink that’s undoubtedly smooth and bold but also unexpectedly smooth and bold. Combining equal parts rye and Cognac produces a simultaneously soft and bold cocktail, smooth and careless, unmistakable New Orleans.
The herbaceousness transforms as it warms when you serve Sazerac without ice; it has a contemplative evolution within the glass.