One of the oldest and most loved cocktails, the Sazerac is a New Orleans classic.
And it’s clear to see why!
Herbal absinthe and spicy rye whiskey combine with Peychaud’s bitters to create a taste that is complex, delicious, and timeless.
However, with a cocktail this well-known, there are bound to be countless subtle changes that vary from person to person or bar to bar.
So let’s look at a few key points that you should know before diving into the Sazerac recipe.
Rye or Cognac?
The Sazerac traces its origins to Peychaud’s Apothecary on Royal Street in New Orleans.
There it was created by Antoine Peychaud, a Creole apothecary whose name is still associated with the cocktail’s signature bitters, in the mid-1800’s.
According to the legend, the Sazerac was originally made with cognac or brandy. However, the outbreak of Phylloxera that led to the Great French Wine Blight halted the production of cognac and brandy.
From there, the recipe switched to the spicy American rye whiskey.
These days, some will still make Sazeracs with cognac or brandy. Others prefer the spicier bite that comes with using rye whiskey.
In fact, some people will even split the difference and use both!
However, in this recipe, we’ll be using rye. If you prefer something with less bite, feel free to use cognac instead!
Using Absinthe In the Sazerac
The use of absinthe in the Sazerac almost highlights just how old this cocktail is.
While absinthe was originally used, that changed when absinthe was made illegal in the US. From that point on, Sazeracs were made using Herbsaint, an anise liqueur that’s similar to Pernod and pastis.
(Fun fact: it was illegal to even print “absinthe” on the bottle, so it was instead named “Sacred Herb” or “Herbe Sainte” in French Creole.)
But these days, absinthe is back on the shelves!
Most recipes will tell you to use the absinthe to coat the glass and then toss the absinthe.
I say that’s heresy! In this house, we don’t waste absinthe!
Personally, I prefer to use higher-quality absinthe and keep it in the cocktail. So this recipe will be made that way.
If you want to waste absinthe, that’s entirely up to you…
The Sazerac Recipe
But with those important details covered, let’s get into the recipe!
Need a sturdy rocks glass? These are what I use!
- 1 Sugar Cube
- 6 Dashes Peychaud Bitters
- 2 oz Rye Whiskey
- .25 oz Absinthe
- Lemon (for garnish)
- Set one rocks glass to the side with ice and water to chill.
- In your mixing glass, add one sugar cube.
- Add 6 dashes of Peychaud's bitters. The sugar cube should be saturated.
- Add 2 oz of rye whiskey.
- Muddle thoroughly. (Texture should be slightly grainy but with no large clumps of sugar.)
- Add ice and stir.
- Remove ice and water from the chilled rocks glass.
- Add .25 oz absinthe.
- Rotate the chilled glass so that the absinthe thoroughly coats the entire inside of the glass.
- Strain the contents of the other glass into the chilled glass with the absinthe.
- Express lemon peel over the glass and around the edges.
- Garnish with the lemon peel and serve.