Part three of our Historic Sauce series takes us to cocktail mecca New Orleans, home to one of the oldest cocktails: the Sazerac.
The Sazerac purportedly dates back to the early 1800s, but this glorious drink is also said to have originally featured brandy and bitters. It wasn't until later that rye whiskey started replacing brandy and a wash of absinthe was added. As discussed in previous editions of our five-part series, cocktail history has a tendency to get murky, though one thing is certain — the Sazerac, NOLA's official cocktail, is approaching 200 years of age.
There are plenty of places to order the legendary beverage around the Bay area, and I recommend doing so. But there's just something about making yourself a cocktail like this at home, too. The Sazerac is exactly what they had in mind while coining the term "craft cocktail." There are steps, steps that must be carried out precisely, and when done correctly, you've got yourself a drink you can sip, enjoy and be proud of. You've accomplished something.
You might make a face when you swallow, but it's a face that makes you look sophisticated, dammit. It lets the people around you know you're not drinking rum and Coke (not that there's anything wrong with that). And while the Sazerac might be an acquired taste, once acquired, it sticks with you.
1 sugar cube
3-4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
2 ounces rye whiskey
1/4 ounce absinthe (I used Fish Hawk Spirits Absinthe Rubra)
Lemon peel, for garnish
Fill an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Set aside. In a cocktail mixing glass, add sugar cube and bitters. Crush with a muddler. Add rye whiskey and top with ice. Stir until well-chilled and diluted, about 20-30 seconds. Discard ice from Old Fashioned glass and add absinthe. Swirl glass around to coat walls with absinthe. Discard remaining absinthe and strain in cocktail. Squeeze and twist lemon peel over cocktail to express the oils. Drop inside to garnish.