…from the California Happy Hour Bar
How you doin’? It makes no difference if your Super Bowl team is winning or losing, my Sazerac Cocktail will buoy your winning spirits or drown your sorrows in whisky. The Sazerac is a close cousin to an Old Fashioned. It has been around in one form or another since the early 1830’s. It was trademarked by Sazerac Co in 1900. The Sazerac was crowned the official cocktail of New Orleans in 2008, a designation more suited to marketers than drink mixers. The truth is the Sazerac has always belonged to the Crescent City.
It is believed that the first Sazeracs were made with French brandy—Sazerac de Forge et Fils, to be exact. And it’s known that those first Sazeracs contained Peychaud’s bitters, a bright-red concoction with flavors of gentian and anise that was invented by New Orleans resident Antoine Peychaud. Add some sugar and a dash of absinthe, and you have a strong, aromatic drink that embodies the city from whence it hails.
Today, the French brandy has been replaced with American rye whiskey, a spirit that grew in both popularity and availability during the 19th century. Brandy or cognac, which are distilled from grapes, yields a Sazerac that is fruity and floral, different than today’s rye-based versions, which feature the grain spirit’s trademark spicy notes.
A well-made rye Sazerac is indeed a tasty cocktail, full of kick and depth. My recipe combines equal parts cognac and rye, not as an homage to a lost classic but because the two work together perfectly. The opposing pairing, when accented by the licorice flavors of absinthe, produces a cocktail that’s simultaneously soft and bold, smooth and brash—and unmistakably New Orleans.
1/2 ounce absinthe, to rinse the glass
1 sugar cube
1/2 teaspoon cold water
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1-1/4 ounces rye whiskey
1-1/4 ounces cognac
Garnish: lemon peel
ChefSecret: The fresher the lemons the more lemon oil you will get when you express it into the cocktail.
Quip of the Day: My wife asked me if she had any annoying habits. Then she got all uptight and annoyed when I set up the Power Point presentation. I am now sleeping in the Tuff Shed in the backyard.
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