The Sazerac cocktail is considered to be the oldest known American cocktail, and its history goes all the way back to New Orleans before the Civil War. The name of the beverage was given by the original cognac that was used in the recipe, which was named Sazerac de Forge et Fils. The ingredients used to prepare the Sazerac are cognac or rye whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters and absinthe. What makes it special is the preparation method, which requires the use of two old fashioned glasses. One of the glasses is coated with absinthe on the inside, whereas the other one is chilled.
All the ingredients are mixed into the chilled glass, and then poured into the absinthe glass which gives a final touch of taste and aroma. Some bars or bartenders replace the absinthe with other anisettes like Herbsaint, Pastis, Ricard or Pernod. The first variant is the most common in New Orleans, the birth place of the Sazerac cocktail. Historically, the conditions for creating this old cocktail began in 1850, when the Sazerac de Forge et Fils was first brought into America by a man named Sewell T. Taylor. Soon after that, Aaron Bird opened the Sazerac House, where he served the “Sazerac Cocktail”.
Some 20 years later, the original Sazerac cognac was replaced from the recipe with rye whiskey, because the grape crops from France had suffered from an epidemic and the cognac was discontinued. When absinthe was made illegal in the United States, bartenders started replacing it with the anisettes we mentioned above. As you can see, the recipe for the Sazerac cocktail was profoundly influenced by historical events, much more than any other cocktail recipes. However, the spirit remained the same and people still enjoy drinking it today thanks to its layered taste and its warming qualities.
In 2008, the Sazerac cocktail was named the official drink of the state of Louisiana, and it’s no wonder the state wanted to continue associating its name to this popular beverage. As for preparing the drink, the International Bartenders Association recommends using two ounces of rye whiskey, three dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters,one sugar cube or a teaspoon of simple syrup, and a splash of Herbsaint or absinthe. The preparation is similar to the method described above, but here one of the glasses is chilled with ice, while in the other one the bartender muddles the sugar with some bitters. When the other glass is chilled, the ice is discarded and the inside is coated with absinthe. The rest of the ingredients are then mixed into the coated glass, which is then garnished with a lemon peel.