the Sazerac


I can’t explain the way cocktails have eased their way into our lives this year. Not that long ago, I was still prefacing every mixed drink comment I made with “I don’t usually like cocktails, but…” and now suddenly we have a full cabinet of liqueurs and a Boston shaker. Hm.

We first met the Sazerac (the Official Cocktail of New Orleans) about a year ago, at Star Bar. Phyllis, our favorite bartender, had taken it upon herself that month to get as many customers as possible to order Sazeracs, just so she could have the fun of making them. Jon had been wanting to try one, so we were in luck. When she set the drink down in front of him (I believe she served it up, in a cocktail glass) we each tried it. We weren’t sure if we loved it, but we were definitely intrigued.

Later, when we finally managed to find some Peychaud’s bitters (had to order them online), we started experimenting with Sazeracs at home. One day, out of the blue, I discovered I love them. My preferred presentation is in a rocks glass (built in the glass), with just a couple of ice cubes, and a sizable lemon twist. It makes me happy. Who knew?

The following recipe is based on the Mr. Boston’s version, and I like it very much. We have a very different version by Dale DeGroff that uses both rye and Cognac, which we don’t currently possess. We’ll get around to it one of these days.

The Sazerac Cocktail
adapted from Mr. Boston: Official Bartender’s Guide

  • 1/2 tsp Pernod or Absinthe
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1/2 tsp simple syrup or 1 sugar cube
  • 2 oz rye whiskey

Rinse an old-fashioned glass with the Pernod. Add the bitters and sugar and muddle together. Add the whiskey and stir. Add two ice cubes and a lemon twist and serve.

5 thoughts on “the Sazerac

  1. Actually, I think the change from disliking cocktails to liking them is pretty easy to explain. Previously, our experience with cocktails had been limited to the sort of overly sweet cocktails in which an alcohol like vodka is mixed with a premade mix of artificial flavorings. Then we discovered cocktails where there’s some actual craft involved. The flavors aren’t from a mix; they’re from the alcohols and fresh juice. The flavors are complementing the alcohol, not masking it. It makes a difference.

  2. This sounds delightful. I think I’m due for a trip to the ZigZag this weekend, and I’d love for them to make me a Sazerac so I can know what it’s all about!

    Great post, Jessamyn.

    1. Let me know how you like it! I think it’s a perfect cocktail: warming, a bit sweet, a bit bitter, nicely complex.

  3. i’m a huge fan of the sazerac as well… I usually follow gary regan’s recipe: a rinse with herbsaint, 3 oz rye, 3/4 oz simple syrup, and a healthy amount of peychaud’s (probably 3 or 4 dashes). I think the syrup might get some disapproving glares from purists, but I find it more consistent 🙂

    1. Agreed, plus we’re more likely to have simple syrup than sugar cubes on hand. I’ll have to try it with extra bitters, thanks!

      How does herbsaint differ from Pernod? We also have some absinthe, but I don’t remember what brand.

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