The Sazerac Cocktail Recipe

Posted in Bourbon on March 7, 2014


The Sazerac cocktail is something that really stands out of the crowd. It has a fascinating history and it is believed to be the first cocktail ever made. This is a matter of dispute in the world of mixology, but the Sazerac still remains a classic and fascinating drink. Nowadays it is rarely found outside its place of origin which is New Orleans. Preparing one at home might not be very easy especially because some of the ingredients might be hard to find, but nevertheless, it is definitely worth the effort to try this cocktail at least one in your lifetime.

The Sazerac was invented in 1838 by Antoine Peychaud. He combined Peychaud bitters, which was made after a family recipe, with cognac. Nowadays the cokctail is not made with cognac anymore, but with rye whiskey. The measuring cup that Antoine used at the time it was actually a double-ended egg cup which was known as coquetier. The word cocktail actually derived from the word coquetier.

In the 1850s the Sazerac was already very popular. Twenty years later, the recipe was modified and it was made with rye whiskey instead of cognac. This was also the time when a dash of absinthe was added to the cocktail. When absinthe became unavailable it was replaced with Herbsaint.

The Sazerac cocktail is indeed pretty complex, but you won’t regret the effort of finding all the necessary ingredients and putting it up at home. A true cocktail enthusiast has to give it a try.

How to Prepare the Sazerac Cocktail

You need the following ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz. of rye whiskey.
  • 1 cube of sugar.
  • ¼ oz. of Herbsaint or absinthe.
  • 3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters.
  • A lemon peel.

A true Sazerac is never served in a cocktail glass, but in an old-fashioned glass. Take some crushed ice and fill the glass with it. Leave it aside in order to chill until you prepare the cocktail.

Take another old-fashioned glass and muddle the sugar cube together with the bitters. Pour the rye whiskey over the muddled sugar.

Throw away the ice in the first glass and pour in the Herbsaint or absinthe. Use it only for coating the walls of the glass and discard any excess. Pour the mixture of bitters, sugar and whiskey in the coated glass and squeeze the lemon peel on top of it. The lemon peel can then be discarded because its only purpose was to release its flavors into the drink.

It might sound complicated, but it won’t take more than ten minutes and it is definitely worth your time.

You will notice that some bartenders might do the Sazerac differently. While it won’t be a problem to replace the sugar cube with sugar syrup, it is not recommended to use orange bitters instead of Peychaud’s bitters because you’ll alter the taste of the cocktail.

More than that, it is never recommended to shake the ingredients for this cocktail. The Sazerac is not meant to be foamy. It is also not meant to be served on the rocks or in cocktail glasses. Straight up in an old-fashioned glass is the way to go with this cocktail.

It might not seem important, but you should not use a lemon peel for garnish because the flavor that it releases in the drink when squeezed is part of the Sazerac’s unique charm.

This cocktail is meant to be enjoyed and sipped very slowly such that you can really savor the subtle aromas.

You can also try the historical version and replace the rye whiskey with cognac.

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