To celebrate Ed’s milestone birthday we headed to New Orleans on a quest for good music, culture, food and cocktails – specifically NOLA’s official cocktail, the Sazerac.
The original Sazerac dates to the middle of the 19th century and takes its name from a brand of French Cognac that was originally used as its primary ingredient. The bitters were local to NOLA and produced by an apothecary named, Antoine Amedie Peychaud (now known as Peychaud’s Bitters). Due to a phylloxera epidemic in the 1870’s that devastated the grapes in France, Cognac was swapped for rye whiskey as it was easier to find since it was made in America.
Another key ingredient is absinthe, a licorice-flavored liqueur. Often times you’ll see Pernod or Herbsaint substituted for absinthe due to its being banned in the United States (from 1912-2007!) for its addictive tendencies (that’s my art history degree hard at work), plus it’s quite dear. Fortunately, you don’t use much absinthe (or substitute) as it’s just used to coat the glass.
Ed enjoyed his first New Orleans Sazerac at The Carousel Bar (the bar actually revolves!) in the Hotel Monteleone where we stayed. Here, he went old-school and had it with Cognac (known as the “1738 Sazerac”). His last Sazerac came from the aptly-named Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel – thank you to fellow food blogger, David Allen, of Cocoa & Lavender fame, for this recommendation. When pressed Ed prefers the original made with Cognac, but we both recognize that it’s not as readily available.
If you’re looking for a good Sazerac in the Philadelphia area, try the White Dog Cafe in Wayne, PA.
I’m happy to report that New Orleans didn’t disappoint when it came to good music, culture, food and cocktails. In fact, I’d use “great” instead of “good.” We’ll definitely be heading back. Please message me if you’d like some recommendations – we owe the success of our trip to friends who steered us in the right direction.
- 2 splashes of absinthe (substitute Pernod or Herbsaint)
- 4 ounces rye whiskey
- ½ ounce simple syrup (see notes)
- 6 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
- Optional: garnish with thick peel of lemon
- Swirl absinthe (or substitute) in two old-fashioned glasses so that the entire inside of the glass is coated. Fill each glass with ice cubes to chill.
- In a pint glass or mixing glass, add rye whiskey, simple syrup and bitters. Add ice.
- Stir until chilled and strain (ideally using a Hawthorne strainer) into each prepared glass. Serve without ice. If you do want ice, use one very large cube which will chill the drink rather than dilute it.
- Optional: rub lemon peel around rim of glass and serve on top of drink.
* SIMPLE SYRUP
1 cup (8 ounces) water
1 cup granulated sugar
Bring the water to a simmer in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and stir until it completely dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Pour the syrup into a clean 1-pint bottle, cap it and refrigerate it until needed. Makes 1½ cups and keeps two months or longer in the refrigerator.