Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Sazerac

The Sazerac

The Sazerac takes advantage of the other purchase we made that day in Ann Arbor, Peychaud's Bitters.  The Sazerac is a very old New Orleans recipe, one of the original versions of The Cocktail.  The particular type of bitters required originated in the early 1800s, when it was concocted by Creole apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud, who moved to New Orleans from Haiti in 1793.  Peychaud's Bitters is a gentian-based bitters, meaning that its primary "active" ingredient is a flower that has been used since ancient times when Gentuis, the last Illyrian king before Roman conquest in 168 B.C.E., attributed tonic qualities to it.  Different varieties of the gentian flower are used in other alcohols as well, such as Suze and Aperol.   Gentian is also fourth on the ingredient list for Angostura Bitters, but Peychaud's is lighter, more floral, and less spicy.  Peychaud's Bitters is now made by Buffalo Trace Distillery and distributed by The Sazerac Co.  The recipe I used is an older recipe than the recipe listed at their website, which has been subject to the vagaries of changes in the American liquor trade.  Feel free to try the rye version as well.  Certainly, Sazerac Rye is an excellent whiskey.

Like St. Germain, Peychaud's Bitters isn't carried by every liquor store.  It was truly fortuitous that we discovered Stadium Market that day when looking for a sports drink between dancing in the afternoon and dancing in the evening.  Not only do they have a fabulous selection stacked to the ceiling in their rather small space, but they were also very nice and helpful.  We only wish we had gone there first rather than getting a snack at the coffee shop because they have a deli counter and do gourmet catering, as well as a big selection of snacks.  I was amazed at the amount of goodness they had managed to shoehorn into their shop.

The Sazerac

1.5 oz Cognac
0.5 oz Rye
1 Sugar Cube (brown is a good choice)
2 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 tsp Water
Splash Absinthe
Lemon Twist

Chill a rocks glass with ice.
Meanwhile, place the sugar cube in a mixing glass and dash the Peychaud’s onto it. Add water and muddle together until the sugar is dissolved. Add the spirits and stir. 

Discard the ice and then rinse the glass with Absinthe, coating the entire inside. Discard the Absinthe
Pour spirit mixture into the rocks glass. Add a couple of cubes of ice.
Twist a Lemon Peel over the surface of the drink, rub oils on the rim of the glass, then add to the drink as garnish.

The verdict: The Sazerac certainly deserves its reputation as an excellent drink. It is complex, and the different components blend beautifully. The absinthe is strong in the nose, but not dominating in the flavor. An elegant twist on The Cocktail.


  1. A friend of mine is obsessed with Sazeracs. He's convinced me to try them a few times, but I think I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not a rye fan.

    1. The all rye version is slap-you-in-the-face rye, but the primarily cognac version is nicely balanced, in my opinion.