Drink Recipes Sazerac

June 10, 2012by Blake Donaldson
Sazarac Cocktail
  • Sazerac Cocktail
  • 1 Small Splash of Absinthe in a Chilled Bucket Serving Glass
  • In a Mixing Glass Full of Ice
  • 2 ounce Rye Whiskey
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • 3 Shake Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Serve in a Chilled Bucket Glass Laced With Absinthe
  • Orange Peel Garnish

The Sazerac is a local New Orleans variation of an old-fashioned cognac or whiskey cocktail, named for the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of cognac that was its original prime ingredient. The drink is some combination of cognac or rye whiskey, absinthe or Herbsaint, and Peychaud’s Bitters. It is sometimes referred to as the oldest known American cocktail, with origins  prior to the Civil War. The defining feature of the Sazerac is the preparation using Peychaud’s Bitters and two chilled old-fashioned glasses, one swirled with a light wash of absinthe for the slight taste and strong scent. The second chilled glass is used to mix the other ingredients, then the contents of that are poured or strained into the first. Various anisettes such as Pastis, Pernod, Ricard and Herbsaint are common substitutes for absinthe when it is not available, in New Orleans Herbsaint is most commonly used.

Around 1850, Sewell T. Taylor sold his bar, The Merchants Exchange Coffee House, and went into the imported liquor business. He began to import a brand of cognac named Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. At the same time, Aaron Bird took over the Merchants Exchange and changed its name to the Sazerac House and began serving the “Sazerac Cocktail”, made with Taylor’s Sazerac cognac and, legend has it, the bitters being made down the street by a local druggist, Antoine Amedie Peychaud. The Sazerac House changed hands several times and around 1870 Thomas Handy took over as proprietor. Around this time the primary ingredient changed from cognac to rye whiskey due to the phylloxera epidemic in Europe that devastated France’s wine grape crops. At some point before his death in 1889, Handy recorded the recipe for the cocktail, and the drink made its first printed appearance in William T. “Cocktail Bill” Boothby’s 1908 The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them.

Peychaud’s Bitters, originally created around 1830 by Antoine Amédée Peychaud, a Creole apothecary from the French colony of Saint-Domingue, now Haiti, who settled in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1795.