Time for a Drink: The Sazerac

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

If you were to select the nation's cocktail capital, New Orleans would have to be at the top of the list. Sure, New York City and San Francisco have some of the best and brightest bartenders working today, but in terms of history, endurance, and sheer joie de vivre, the Big Easy has plenty in its favor.

That's one reason why, every year, hundreds of spirits and cocktail aficionados from around the world converge in the swampy heat of New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, a five-day conference celebrating everything shaken and stirred. Now in its fifth year, Tales of the Cocktail is currently in full swing, and countless tipplers--myself included--are scouring the French Quarter, asking bartenders at venerable watering holes such as the Carousel Bar, the Napoleon House and Tujaque's to mix up a perfect Sazerac.

Credited as being among the first true cocktails, the Sazerac is a New Orleans original; one sip of its hazy, lusty character tells you everything you need to know about living the good life.

About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

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Time for a Drink: The Sazerac

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 or 4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
  • a few drops water
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey (such as Sazerac Rye)
  • 1 teaspoon Herbsaint, Pernod, pastis, or absinthe
  • lemon peel

Procedures

  1. 1

    Chill an Old Fashioned glass or small tumbler in your freezer.

  2. 2

    In a mixing glass, combine sugar, Peychaud’s Bitters, and a few drops of water. Mix until sugar is dissolved, and add rye. Add plenty of ice, and stir for about 30 seconds.

  3. 3

    Pour Herbsaint, pastis, or absinthe into your chilled glass, and rotate glass until the inside is well coated; discard the excess. Strain the liquid from your mixing glass into the serving glass. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink. Indulge.

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