The Sazerac

This cocktail is right up there with the Old Fashioned as far as my list of favorite drinks goes. The Sazerac is the classic New Orleans cocktail fashioned with two key ingredients that come direct from The Big Easy: Peychaud’s bitters and Herbsaint. The base of the drink is rye whiskey, but these two New Orleans-made modifiers give the drink the kick and taste that make it a distinct and aromatic wonderland of flavor. That’s right…a wonderland.

Sipping a Sazerac makes me think of huge river boats gliding along the Mississippi, and crowded gambling halls and saloons in mid-19th century New Orleans. The air of adventure that people must have felt at that time and place would have been astounding; seated at the edge of the American frontier but also at one of the busiest port towns providing access to trade along a bustling river into the heart of the country.

The Sazerac was born into a booming, fast-paced environment, but it needs to be paid the slow, careful attention of a connoisseur. Even the busiest person, when drinking this cocktail, is sure be thrown back into a pause, wanting to understand the complexity of the drink by taking each successive sip slower than the last. It’s the only way to truly be transported back to that burgeoning time in American history, and the only way to enjoy the drink that witnessed the rise of New Orleans in it’s own big easy way.

Here’s how I make the Sazerac:

3 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. simple syrup
5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
A cap-full of Herbsaint
Lemon peel

I like to use a brandy snifter as the glass, but an old fashioned glass will also work. Chill this glass in the freezer while you prepare the drink. Pour the rye whiskey, simple syrup and Peychaud’s into a mixing glass or shaker (without ice) and stir to combine.

Remove the drinking glass from the freezer and dash the Herbsaint into the glass. Swirl the glass around to coat the sides with the Herbsaint. Dump out any excess liquid when you’re done.

Now pour the whiskey, bitters and sugar mixture into the glass. Peel the lemon, coat the rim of the glass with the oils of the outside of the lemon skin and drop the peel into the glass.

And there you have it…the Sazerac:

The Sazerac

Just writing about it makes me want one for myself! Enjoy making yours!

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