January 6, 2013

The Sazerac

The Sazerac. It's been hailed recently as the "quintessential southern cocktail." The Sazerac has its roots in the south; in pre-Civil War-New Orleans to be exact. History holds (or perhaps it's more drunken mythologizing at this point) the drink was invented in at the Sazerac House coffee shop in New Orleans in the mid-1800s. Originally made with a Cognac base, the modern Sazerac is a rye-based cocktail with a dash of Peychaud's bitters served in a chilled glass that's been coated with Absinthe. During the years that Absinthe was banned in the U.S., Herbsaint was used and has become a reliable substitute that is still used today.
During a recent evening in which we had dinner with friends to plot our upcoming trip to New Orleans, I decided to make Sazeracs for the first time. I followed the traditional recipe and used Herbsaint, which is a bit easier to find, although Absinthe is legal now and can be found around town.
The recipe I used is as follows:

The Sazerac
1 Sugar Cube
2 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 dash Bitters
Herbsaint (or Absinthe)
Lemon Peel for garnish

There's nothing too tricky to the Sazerac; think of an Old-Fashioned with the addition of the Herbsaint. The trick is in the preparation which involves rinsing a cold glass (preferably an Old-Fashioned glass) with Herbsaint to coat the glass before pouring any remaining liquor out. In another glass, muddle the sugar cube with a drop of water to soften. To this glass I added some ice cubes, then rye, then the two bitters. Then, strain the rye and bitters into the glass coated with Herbsaint. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel. Now, start drinking.

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