A Drink A Day: Sazerac
There comes a point in every mans life when they realize there is more to having a drink then just walking in and ordering a beer or doing a Jägerbomb. Not that there is a damn thing wrong with either of these, but well, its just not all there is when it comes to enjoying a drink as a grown man. Like with many things in life, at some point you will just want more from a drink. You will start looking for something with a bit of history. You start wanting a bit of personality, class, and a distinct flavor in your “go to drink”. A good place to start is with some classic cocktails. Since we are launching this column again, now on the brand spanking new (and dope as hell) The Reference Council site, that’s exactly where we are going to start. To do so we are going to look no further then my personal favorite drink of all time the Sazerac.
The Sazerac is a distinctive American drink, more specifically, a New Orleans drink by origin. Many people know it as “That one drink that has Rye and Absinthe in it..” but the real distinction behind a true Sazerac is the bitters used. Not just any bitters, but Peychaud bitters. At the beginning of the 1830’s there was a West Indies transplant by the name of Antione Peychaud who had his own shop down in the French Quarter. It was there he made his own blend of herbs that went on to be tinkered with and evolved into the bitters that bare his name to this day. He would mix that with some sugar, brandy, and water and use it as a cure all drink to help cure what ever ailed you. Eventually that drink went on to be served at the Sazerac Coffee House which was named after the brandy that the owner of the coffee house was importing. Over time brandy was slowly replaced with Rye and has grown into this classic American cocktail. The smell of a Sazerac is distinct, and surprisingly refreshing with a blend of citrus and herbal notes on the nose. It’s a damn good drink, and if you see me out and think ” Hey, I want to buy that guy a drink”, this is the one you should order for me, and get one for yourself while you are at it.
When I knew I was going to start this column up again, I knew this was going to be the first drink I was going to feature, so I headed over to see the fine folks at Ela (www.elaphilly.com). These guys make my favorite Sazerac in Philly and this one did not disappoint. I was lucky enough to have this one made by Philadelphia’s barman legend Rich Leibensperger. We had a great chat and he dropped some serious Sazerac knowledge on me, some of which you can see here in this write up, so big up Rich for that! What’s the moral of the story? Expand your drinks portfolio, drink better, and enjoy life a bit more every day. If the bartender doesn’t know how to make a Sazerac, they should be ashamed of themselves, but you can always just show them this recipe:
- 1 sugar cube
- 2 1/2 ounces rye whisky
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- lemon peel
- Put the sugar cube in an old fashioned glass, and add a few drips of water. Just enough to muddle it down to a light grainy paste.
- Add in the Rye (Be sure to use the good shit. Don’t skimp here) and bitters and let sit for a second or two.
- Chill down another old fashioned or rocks glass. Coat the inside of this glass with the absinth. You can spray it in or pour a bit in and roll it around the inside of the glass. What ever method you use, make sure to coat the whole inside of the glass.
- Now strain the mixture of rye, sugar, and bitters into the chilled, absinthe coated glass.
- Rub rim of glass with lemon peel, then use as garnish or discard, your call.