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The Sazerac Cocktail

December 4, 2011

Today I finally managed to recreate my all-time favorite cocktail recipe: the Sazerac.  I’ve been slowly acquiring the ingredients, for the past year now, and this afternoon I bought my final one. My quest started with a trip to New Orleans last January, where we were introduced to this cocktail at none other than the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt hotel. The theme of our trip was Southern indulgence – one of us had just returned from spending a grueling few months in a hotel out of town for a work assignment, and following that time apart, we wanted to get away together somewhere interesting, warm, and most importantly somewhere we could indulge ourselves after months of nothing but work. Luckily, we had accumulated tons of hotel points (thanks to that work assignment), and those–along with some leftover airline miles–meant our week-long trip budget left plenty of room for extraordinary food and drink!

Peychaud's Bitters

If you’ve been to New Orleans, you know how integral food and drink are to the city’s culture.  Po’boys, gumbo, jambalaya, beignets–and of course, the city’s most famous cocktail: the Sazerac, all come from New Orleans.  As the nation’s oldest cocktail, the Sazerac has roots back to 1850.  Initially named after the cognac Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils, imported by New Orleans resident Sewell T. Taylor, the grape-based liquor was later replaced with rye in the 1870s due to a grape shortage.  Another crucial Sazerac ingredient, Peychaud’s bitters, was introduced by Antoine Amadie Peychaud, a Creole apothecary whose shop in the French Quarter sold the mixture, based on an old family recipe.

Amuse bouche at Restaurant August

While we experienced no shortage of incredible meals in the city–including CochonBayona, and the outstanding Restaurant August, our favorite spot was the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel.  We felt like royalty.  Golden columns, crystal chandeliers, leather chairs, and incredible service.

While there are various ‘official’ recipes, this one includes ingredients I could locate.  Some items, like Sazerac brand rye, seem to be exclusive to some regions.

The Sazerac Cocktail


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 1/2 ounces rye whisky
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Absente (or Herbsaint, Pernod, Lucid, or equivalent)
  • lemon peel

In an Old-Fashioned glass, muddle a sugar with a few drops of water. Crack an ice cube with the back of a spoon in your hand, and add the ice pieces along with the rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, and Angostura bitters.

Sugar dissolving in a bit of water

Left glass chilling, right glass with rye mixture

Stir well, making sure to dissolve the sugar.  In another chilled Old-Fashioned glass, add a few drops of Absente and swirl to coat the interior of the glass.  Strain the rye mixture into the Absente-coated glass, then garnish with a twist of lemon peel.


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