Sazerac is a classic New Orleans cocktail made with rye whiskey, bitters, and absinthe. It is often considered one of the oldest cocktails in America.

Sazerac recipe

  • 5 cl cognac (or rye whiskey)
  • 1 cl absinthe (or Herbsaint)
  • One sugar cube
  • Two dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with the absinthe, add crushed ice, and set it aside. Stir the remaining ingredients over ice and set it aside. Discard the ice and any excess absinthe from the prepared glass, and strain the drink into the glass. Add the lemon peel for garnish.

Directions for how to make the Sazerac

  1. Rinse a chilled Old-fashioned glass with absinthe (or Herbsaint).
  2. Add crushed ice to the glass and set it aside.
  3. In a separate mixing glass, stir cognac (or rye whiskey), sugar cube, and Peychaud’s Bitters over ice.
  4. Discard the ice and any excess absinthe from the prepared glass.
  5. Strain the mixed drink into the absinthe-rinsed glass.
  6. Add a lemon peel for garnish.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Tips for how to make the perfect Sazerac

  • Use high-quality rye whiskey for the base.
  • Rinse the glass with absinthe before pouring in the cocktail mixture for an extra layer of complexity.
  • Use a sugar cube instead of simple syrup for a more traditional Sazerac.
  • Stir with ice for at least 30 seconds to properly dilute and chill the cocktail.
  • Garnish with a lemon peel, making sure to express the oils over the drink before placing it in the glass.

Alcohol-free alternative to the Sazerac

A good alcohol-free alternative to the drink Sazerac is the “Sazerac mocktail”. The mocktail replicates the flavour of the original drink without the use of alcohol. It is a blend of black tea, lemon, ginger, aromatic bitters, sugar, and star anise. The tea provides a similar flavour profile to the herbal notes of absinthe in the original recipe, while the lemon and ginger add a refreshing citrus kick. The aromatic bitters bring in the warmth and complexity, while sugar and star anise provide a sweet and spicy balance. This alcohol-free option is perfect for those who want to enjoy the taste of Sazerac without the effects of alcohol.

Sazerac fun facts

  1. Sazerac is believed to be the oldest known cocktail, dating back to the early 1800s.
  2. The recipe of Sazerac was originally made with cognac, but due to the ravages of phylloxera that destroyed many vineyards in France in the late 1800s, it became difficult to obtain cognac, so rye whiskey was used instead.
  3. The name Sazerac comes from the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of cognac that was originally used in the recipe.
  4. Sazerac is traditionally served in a glass rinsed with absinthe, which adds an anise flavor and aroma to the drink.
  5. The Sazerac was proclaimed the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana Legislature in 2008.