A New Orleans Original
It wasn’t long ago when I assumed that New Orleans cocktails required freezing and a yard-long plastic cup. How remarkably short-sighted of me. Blasphemous, even.
Like jazz, the Sazerac was born and bred in Nola. In fact, some claim that it is the oldest known American cocktail.
Apothecary Antoine Peychaud (the Louis Armstrong of mixology?) created the drink that stars his namesake bitters and served it in an egg cup called a coquetier. It’s said that his non-French patients/patrons misinterpreted the name of the cup, asking instead for a “cock-tail”.
Although you no longer need an egg cup, there are a few conundrums regarding Sazerac ingredients and preparation:
- The Sazerac was named for a brand of cognac, but most now use rye as the central ingredient. I haven’t had much luck finding Sazerac-brand rye in Atlanta, but I’ve been more than happy with Rittenhouse as a substitute.
- While Peychaud bitters are crucial, the amount is up to you (I make mine the PDT way — three dashes of Peychaud, plus two dashes of Angostura).
- Some use sugar crystals, others, simple syrup. I like sugar cubes — dashing the bitters right on top, waiting for them to turn red, then muddling everything into submission.
- You don’t need to spend a lot on Absinthe since you only need a minuscule amount (unless you’d like to have a nice bottle around).
- What to do with the lemon peel? Purists toss it out. Rebels toss it in.
2 oz. rye (Sazerac brand, if you can find it)
3 dashes Peychaud bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube
Just enough Absinthe to rinse a rocks glass
Fill a rocks glass with ice, then set it aside.
Drop a sugar cube in a mixing glass. Dash Peychaud and Angostura bitters right on top, then muddle. Add ice to the muddled mixture, pour in the rye and stir.
Dump the ice from the rocks glass and rinse it with Absinthe (pour in a little, roll it around to coat the inside of the glass, pour out what’s left). Strain the cocktail into the rinsed glass. Twist the lemon peel over the top and toss it out. Or in?