The Sazerac

The Sazerac cocktail could arguably be one of the world's oldest cocktails. While various aspects of its history are often disputed, certain points are reasonably well known. It was in the 1830's that Antoine Peychaud opened up an apothecary shop in the French Quarter of New Orleans. One of the products that he sold here was his own special brand of bitters, still sold today as 'Peychaud's Bitters'. In those days, bitters were considered as a device to invigorate good digestion and good health. Thus it was purely for medicinal purposes that Mr. Peychaud would combine his bitters with brandy to cure the ailments of his friends and customers.

In the 1850's, Sewell Taylor, a friend of Mr. Peychauds, opened up what was in those days referred to as a 'Coffee House', but which was essentially a drinking establishment that would sell more alcoholic beverages then coffee. It was named the 'Sazerac Coffee House', after the 'Sazerac de Forge et Fils' brandy, which he exclusively imported and sold to his customers. Mr. Peychaud's cocktail became a regular drink of the establishment, and was made exclusively with the Sazerac Brandy, and thus was applied the name to which it is known to this day. Some years later, ownership of the Sazerac Coffee House changed hands, and it is believed that it was during this time that the base spirit was changed from Brandy, to Rye, and that 'Absinthe' was added as an ingredient.

Method: Take two heavy-bottomed bar glasses; fill one with cracked ice and a lump of sugar with just enough water to moisten it. Crush the saturated lump of sugar with a bar spoon. Add a few drops of Peychaud's bitters, 60ml of Sazerac Rye whisky and several lumps of ice and stir briskly. Empty the contents into another glass, and in the original glass dash in several drops of absinthe, twirl the glass rapidly and shake out the absinthe. Enough of it will cling to the glass to impart the desired flavour. Strain into this glass the Rye whisky mixture.
Garnish with a twist a lemon peel.
- notes partially sourced from