Shift Drink Saturday: The Sazerac

Shift Drink Saturday: The Sazerac

August 08, 2020

THE SAZERAC

Whiskey, absinthe, bitters. The three main components are simple, but very fun to drink. Every time I enjoyed this cocktail in the past I didn’t realize how much history is in every sip. Now matter the story you hear about it, the beauty is in the subtleties of its recipe. Once again, the components are very limited but the amount that the recipe differs from bar to bar is infinite. The best measure for quality in this cocktail is patience and precision, a true measure for most things that claim to have quality. To better understand the recipe, lets look at the history of the ingredients and how they came to be paired together.

Eyevocado Cup by Ben Belgrad x @glassbyboots x @bardglass

Yet again another cocktail story originating in New Orleans which gives more weight to the fact that people in NOLA have partied hard for a long time. Let’s talk about the Rye Whiskey part of this story, to do that we have to talk about cognac, I know it’s confusing but please follow along. A classic bar turned spirits importer started importing Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils which was a popular cognac at the time (remember a lot of French influence in New Orleans in that era) Bartenders started mixing Cognac; a grape based spirit, bitters, absinthe and sugar to make these spirits more palatable. Cognac remained popular until Phylloxera hit Europe and destroyed almost every grape vine. Phylloxera was an insect that caused an epidemic to grape vines that was introduced to Europe from North America (woops). The insect destroyed almost every grape vine in France and could only be cured by grafting American grape vines to the ones in Europe. Because of the shortage of grape vines, there became a shortage of cognac in New Orleans therefore the main ingredient eventually changed to the American made Rye Whiskey.

Peychaud’s bitters has a wonderful flavor and color and brings so much love to cocktails but if it didn’t piggy back off of the the Sazerac’s success it might not be as ubiquitous as it is today. One could think of this as the chicken or the egg concept, did Peychaud’s become popular because of the Sazerac or did the Sazerac become popular because of Peychaud’s. Ruby in color, flavored with gentian, anise and hints of mint. Reach back to 1830 and thank Antoine Amedee Peychaud for it’s creation at his Creole Apothecary.

Absinthe, another spirit arriving from Europe, popularized in France which made it’s way to New Orleans and into the Sazerac. The myths and mysteries of Absinthe’s “hallucinogenic” buzz fits perfectly with the  culture of the Creole at the time. A strong vegetal, anise and wormwood spirit is sparsely added to this drink as to not overpower the balance of the flavor.

On to the recipe which is as special as the ingredients. Once again feel free to play with the portions and technique as you like. This is just the one I prefer after making thousands of them.

The Recipe...

You will need two rocks glasses. In one add ice, simple syrup and a couple splashes of absinthe. Stir quickly with bar spoon until the absinthe and sugar raises to the top of the inside wall of the glass. Dump contents into separate cup for sipping later. What you have now is a cold rocks glass that has absinthe and sugar covering the entire inside walls of the glass. In a separate rocks glass, add Ice, 2 ounces rye whiskey 6-8 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and 1-3 dashes of Angostura bitters. Stir till completely chilled  and strain into the original glass with the absinthe on the walls. Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy.

For more information and video about making this cocktail stay tuned to my feed over @myshiftdrink on IG. 

Cheers, 

Sammy G

MyShiftDrink.com



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