The Perfect Sazerac
One of the oldest American cocktails is called the Sazerac. This famous cocktail dates back to pre-civil war New Orleans and is still very prevalent there to this day. Recently, this cocktail has made a come-back in gastropubs and “hip” restaurants across America. If there is Sazerac on the drink menu my husband is sure to order it. He is a whiskey drinker and loves this particular cocktail purely for the fact that there aren’t several other ingredients mixed in to “ruin” the whiskey itself. I don’t know when he began to love the taste of whiskey, but I have a slight hunch that it runs in the family. My father-in-law, Kurt, has been known to like a well decanted whiskey, neat and strong to the nose. He also is slightly obsessed with ordering a proper Sazerac. It is truly a funny a story, that I am sure my mother-in-law could tell better than I, but Kurt is pretty much on a mission to “school” bartenders across the world about this classic drink. And yes, I do mean across the world. In one particular instance, Kurt asked the bartender if he could make a Sazerac and before the bartender could answer with a “no”, Kurt had already propped up his laptop right on the bar and pulled up the time-honored recipe for the bartender to follow. He really does want the world to know how to approprietly mix a Sazerac, and if there was any way I could help, I would.
Now, the most important part of this cocktail are the very specific ingredients. The Sazerac was originally made with cognac but in later years was prominently made with rye whiskey. In addition to the whiskey, there are two other must-have components for the infamous drink; Peychaud’s bitters and a rinse of Absinthe. Peychaud’s bitters is lighter and bit more floral than Angostura bitters and is considered essential for a well-stocked bar. The Absinthe rinse is crucial in the fact that it lightly coats the glass with the aromatic anise flavored liquor. There are other popular anisettes like Pernod or Herbsaint that are common substitutes if you can’t find Absinthe. Traditionally, the recipe includes a single muddled sugar cube or an ounce of simple syrup, but to make this cocktail in true “Honeyed Home” fashion, I added a teaspoon of clover honey. The honey added just the right amount of sweetness and really rounded out the drink in whole. The last, and my father-in-law’s favorite part, is the lemon twist. The lemon peel is to be rubbed around the rim of the glass so that all the oils in the rind can permeate onto the glass before the twist is dropped into the drink. With each sip, you should taste lemon first and finish with the slightly anise tinged whiskey. Ok, all this talk is really getting me thirsty. Kurt, come on over! It’s 5 o-clock somewhere right??
- 4 oz Rye Whiskey
- 1/4 oz Absinthe
- 6 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- 2 tsp clover honey (or 2 cubes sugar, muddled)
- 2 lemon peels
- Rinse the inside of two old-fashioned glasses with the Absinthe and discard any left-over liquid. Place one 2″ square ice cube in each glass (if you do not have the large cocktail ice cubes, just use 2-3 regular sized cubes). Set the glasses aside.
- In a cocktail shaker, add ice, whiskey, bitters and honey. Shake vigorously and pour over the large cubes dividing the contents evenly between the two glasses.
- Garnish each glass with a lemon peel. Be sure to rub the peel around the rim before adding it to the cocktail. Enjoy!