Cocktail: The Sazerac

April 22 2013 - 9:00 AM

The Sazerac cocktail

Perhaps the most classic riff on the ever-riffable old-fashioned, the pink-hued Sazerac is amazingly complex tasting for its small list of ingredients. Although the first printed recipe didn’t appear until 1908 (World Drinks and How to Mix Them, William Boothy), it has been a known cocktail in New Orleans since the 1850s when Aaron Bird bought The Merchant’s Exchange Coffee House and renamed it the Sazerac House (after the Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils cognac brand that he was importing).

As the story goes, he made a drink called the Sazerac using cognac, bitters developed by local pharmacist Antoine Peychaud and absinthe. At some point around 1870, when the Sazerac House was under new ownership, the cognac switched over to rye whiskey, as American-made rye became more popular than French-imported cognac here in the States. Both spirits make a fine base.

Like the old-fashioned, the Sazerac is one of the few drinks still made today that fits the original definition of the “cocktail” as it appeared in the May 13, 1806 edition of the The Balance and Columbian Repository:

“Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.”

Try mixing one up yourself using our Sazerac recipe.