Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Sazerac

The former location of Peychaud's.
I've mentioned two of my favorite cocktails on here before, the Manhattan and the Negroni, but I haven't talked about my third, the Sazerac. Fortunately, today's post from Spir.it reminded me! The Spir.it describes the beginning of the cocktail:
The Sazerac is what is known as the first “original” cocktail, and rightfully so. As the story goes, in 1838 an apothecary owner in New Orleans by the name of Antoine Amedie Peychaud had a habit of making brandy toddies for his friends using his homemade “Peychaud’s Bitters,” made from a secret recipe. The toddies were made using a coquetier, which is a double-ended egg cup being used as a jigger. Coincidentally, this is where the word “cocktail” was derived from! So, the first cocktail came to be.

What they don't mention is that there is some dispute about this origin. The first mention of the word cocktail comes in 1798, a full forty years before the Sazerac, and the first definition (a drink of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters) was in 1806. It's unclear exactly where the word comes from, though it may have been slang for ginger. It certainly predated Mr. Peychaud's invention by decades. That being said, the Sazerac is still a wonderful drink.

At its base, the Sazerac is an Old-fashioned with a dash of absinthe. Most recipes have you swirling the glass with absinthe, then discarding (or drinking) the excess. Often, the bitters are added by soaking a sugar cube in them before adding rye whiskey. I use Pernod rather than absinthe, due to the expense of decent absinthe. In New Orleans, Herbsaint is typically used, though it can be hard to find here in the Mid-Atlantic. I also typically use simple syrup, as this is one of the booziest drinks I've had, and a little extra water helps calm things down. It's a great drink for when you want that one-two punch of anise and whiskey, and worth keeping a few extra ingredients around for. Recipe after the jump.

2 oz Rye whiskey
3 dashes, Peychaud's bitters
dollop of simple syrup
splash of absinthe

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