sazerac cocktail

Sazerac

  • Old Fashioned
  • Strong
  • New Orleans
  • Cognac
  • Peychaud's Bitters
  • Sugar
  • Absinthe Rinse

Meet the official cocktail of New Orleans! Like its city of origin, the Sazerac is a bold and historic cocktail with plenty of booziness. For fans of its fellow classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned, the Sazerac offers a twist on the standard template of spirits, bitters, and sweetener with the addition of an absinthe rinse. A few spritzes of absinthe adds an extra, subtle dimension of licorice flavor and scent.

About the Recipe

The Sazerac is the second oldest cocktail on our menu, only younger than the Chatham Artillery Punch. It traces its earliest rumored origins all the way back to the 1830s and some even call it “The First Cocktail.” In fact, it’s so ubiquitous in discussion of cocktail history, that many claim the word “cocktail” itself was derived from the “coquetier” cups out of which the drink was reportedly first served. Many of these tales are credibly disputed by cocktail historians, but the tall tales speak to just how celebrated a libation the Sazerac is. If you thought that was the sum of the debate surrounding the Sazerac, you’d be wrong.

It traces its earliest rumored origins all the way back to the 1830s and some even call it “The First Cocktail.”

Cocktail History

Our recipe uses Cognac, but most recipes from the last century use rye whiskey. The name of the cocktail itself comes from an old brand of Cognac called Sazerac de Forge et Fils, reportedly the preferred brandy of Antoine Amédée Peychaud, the inventor and namesake of the herbal bitters in the Sazerac. Peychaud is said to have enjoyed adding his bitters to that Cognac, laying the groundwork for the creation of a classic cocktail. If the drink did indeed originally feature Cognac, there’s a likely reason for the switch to rye whiskey. European grape crops were decimated by an insect infestation in the latter half of the 19th century, taking the French wine and brandy industry with it for a time.

The ingredient that turns the most heads is the rinse of absinthe that gives it the distinct scent of licorice. Absinthe has an undeserved insidious reputation among casual drinkers as a hallucinogen, leading to it being banned in the United States in 1912. Wormwood, an absinthe ingredient, has a trace amount of a hallucinogenic chemical in it. However, you’d have to ingest so much absinthe to feel the effects that you’d die of alcohol poisoning long before having any “visions.”

Whatever the truth behind its storied history is, the Sazerac is a classic cocktail worthy of its status as the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans.

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