Monday, 8 March 2010


If any place deserves a decent "official cocktail" it's New Orleans. The Sazerac was officially proclaimed the city's signature drink just a couple of years ago, although it dates back to the 1830s, when apothecary Antoine Amadie Peychaud found it made a fine vehicle for his now-famous "medicinal" anise-charactered bitters. Originally made with Sazerac French brandy, since 1873 the cocktail has used rye whiskey (drier and spicier than corn-based bourbon) and a dash of absinthe.


60ml (2oz) rye whiskey
Two dashes Peychaud's Bitters
7.5ml (1/4oz) simple syrup
Few drops of Absinthe
Lemon peel

Pour whiskey, bitters and simple syrup into a mixing glass with ice and stir well. Take a chilled old-fashioned glass and rinse it with absinthe by rotating the glass until it's well coated and discarding the rest (alternatively, use an atomiser to spray the inside of the glass with a fine absinthe mist). Strain the mixed drink into the absinthe-coated glass and add a twist of lemon peel.

How to describe this intense and complex drink? I doubt I could do it more justice than Chuck Taggart from The Gumbo Pages (motto: "there's too much fun to be had to waste it sleeping")...
"This is an absolutely exquisite cocktail. As you sip it, you come across layer after layer of flavor -- the warmth and glowing burn of the rye, effused with the flavors of spice and honey, the bite of the bitters balanced with the sweetness of the sugar, with the subtle yet complex flavor of the anise underneath and the perfume of the lemon oil from the twist feel like a symphony inside your mouth. This is also a drink that warms up well, revealing even more flavors. Sip it very slowly. Savor it. Take your time with it."
Amen to that. It's fair to say that the Sazerac has an unmistakably anise-y finish that not everyone will appreciate. However, as a bookend to a bibulous evening, this intense and complex beverage certainly takes some beating.

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