The Sazerac is often given the title of America’s First Cocktail and the official drink of New Orleans.
Similar to the Old Fashioned in style, the Sazerac is said to have been created around 1850 in a New Orleans bar called The Merchants Exchange Coffee House, owned by Sewell T. Taylor who was about to move into the business of importing spirits and began with a brand of Cognac called Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils.
Aaron Bird or John Schiller (or both) purchased the bar and changed it’s name to Sazerac Coffee House.
Legend has it that Bird began to serve the Sazerac Cocktail made with the Cognac imported by Taylor and a particular bitters that was being made by the local Creole apothecary, Antoine Amedie Peychaud.
Around 1870 the coffee house was purchased by Thomas H Handy and at this time, due to the phylloxera plague that had spread through the vineyards of Europe, devastating all supplies, the Cognac ran out. Handy decided to substitute the Cognac for Rye Whiskey and the new era for the Sazerac cocktail was born.
Before he died in 1889, Handy recorded the recipe which first appeared in print in William T. Boothby’s The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them (1908) although his recipe calls for Selner Bitters, not Peychaud’s. The original might not have called for Angostura bitters but they give the drink a further depth and complexity that works incredibly well.
After absinthe was banned in the US in 1912, it was replaced by the locally produced Herbsaint, which first appeared in 1934. Now that the absinthe ban has been lifted, many bartenders are going back to using Absinthe, however Herbsaint is and will always be a wonderful flavour pairing.
Today the Sazerac is one of the most popular cocktails and features on almost every cocktail bar menu. Cognac or Rye or Both can be ordered and all would be perfectly acceptable.
- Green Fairy Absinthe for rinse
- Sazerac Rye
- Sugar Syrup (1:1)
- Dashes Angostura bitters
- Dashes Peychauds bitters
- Step 1
Pour the Absinthe into an ice filled Rocks Glass. Allow it to sit to the side while preparing the rest of the drink.
(Alternative Option If Available: Use an Absinthe filled atomizer to spray a light coating/rinse of Absinthe into an empty chilled Rocks Glass)
- Step 2
Into a mixing glass
- Step 3
pour in all the other ingredients
- Step 4
Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir until ingredients are mixed
- Step 5
chilled and at the right dilution
- Step 6
Take your Absinthe and ice filled Rocks glass and discard the contents within (this will leave you with a chilled
- Step 7
- Step 8
Strain the contents of your mixing glass into your prepared Rocks Glass
- Step 9
Garnish with a lemon twist