Classic Cocktail – Sazerac

The Sazerac is a New Orleans classic and probably the world’s oldest cocktail. This classic cocktail’s historical reputation has been a constant debate…but you know it’s never a debate at the bar when someone offers you a Sazerac! It all started in the 1830’s when Antoine Peychaud begin promoting his signature bitter that is known to us today as ‘Peychaud’s Bitters’. Those were the days when bitters were popularly used as cures for various ailments, indigestion and also as health tonics. Sometime in the 1850’s Peychaud’s Bitters had a new role which would soon skyrocket it’s popularity. It is believed that Leon Lamothe, a bartender at the Sazerac Coffee House created a variation of Antoine Peychaud’s popular mixture of brandy, Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar by adding an additional touch of Absinthe.
Lamothe’s variation was of course the Sazerac cocktail that soon became an iconic cocktail. Sazerac’s has a variety of recipe that may dictate the use of brandy, straight rye whiskey or even both as a base spirit for it’s concoction. The original Sazerac uses brandy as a base spirit, however the straight rye whiskey came in handy sometime in the 1870’s when a phylloxera plague destroyed most of the wine grapes across European vineyards and affected the price and production of brandy. Straight rye became an excellent substitute for brandy. The popularity of bourbon after the Prohibition era has also influenced some bartenders to use bourbon instead of straight rye whiskey in their Sazeracs. I’ve made it a habit to offer customer at the bar either brandy or straight rye version whenever a Sazerac is ordered…bourbon is on the ‘special request’ list! I do believe that a classic should always stay the way it was first introduced, anyhow there is no harm in substituting it with bourbon if the customer likes it.
I’ll usually use Absinthe in my Sazerac, however this ‘Green Fairy’ is still banned in many countries therefore I’ll suggest the use of Ricard or Pernod as it is easily available almost everywhere and taste great!
On a final note, I just don’t think that a Sazerac should be made with any other bitters instead of Peychaud…(I’ve had quite a few that was made with other brands of bitters…not how I would imagine my Sazerac!) If Peychaud’s is not available in your country, they do take orders by email and will get it shipped to you. Find out more on their website

Last but not least..Here’s my take on the Sazerac cocktail:
Glassware: Old Fashioned Glass (Chilled)

10ml Ricard
50ml Sazerac 6 YO Straight Rye Whiskey or Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
15ml Sugar Syrup
2 Dash Peychaud’s Bitters
1 Lemon Twist
Large Ice Cube
Crushed Ice

Chill the old fashioned glass with crushed ice. Mix whiskey/brandy, sugar syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters and ice cube into mixing glass. Stir till well mixed and chilled. Remove crushed ice from old fashioned, glaze the old fashioned with Ricard and discard the access Ricard. Double strain the content from the mixing glass into the old fashioned. Lightly rub the lemon twist against the rim of the glass and serve it on the side of the Sazerac.

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