The Sazerac is a cocktail that comprises rye whiskey, sugar, absinthe, Angostura bitters, and Peychaud’s bitters. The perfect example of a well-balanced drink. An old 19th-century cocktail, like the Old Fashioned, but there are who some believe it’s even older. Native to New Orleans and named after the “Sazerac de Forge et Fils” which is a brand of Cognac. That was the key ingredient before it became too hard to find and got substituted for rye.

Legend has it, back in 1850 Sewell T. Taylor sold his bar in New Orleans “The Merchants Exchange Coffee House” and started importing spirits, one of which was a brand of cognac named “Sazerac de Forge et Fils”. Aaron Bird took ownership of the bar and changed the name to “Sazerac Coffee House” and started serving the “Sazerac Cocktail” made with the cognac imported by Taylor.

Over the years, the Sazerac Coffee House” changed its owners several times until 1870, when Thomas Handy bought it. Around this time, the key ingredient of the cocktail (cognac) got changed to American rye because of the phylloxera epidemic in Europe that destroyed the vineyards in France.

In 1908, the recipe appeared in William T. Boothby’s, a.k.a “Cocktail Bill” cocktail book – “The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them”. In 1912, the Sazerac took a hit after absinthe got banned in the US, and had to be replaced by various anise-flavored liqueurs. By the early 20th century, the Sazerac became a very rare cocktail and eventually rekindled its popularity.

On June 23,  2008, the state of Louisiana announced Sazerac as New Orleans’ official cocktail.

On the list of IBA Official Cocktails.


  1. 2 Ounces (60 ml) rye whiskey or cognac.
  2. ¼ Ounce (15 ml) Absinthe or anise-liqueur.
  3. 2 Dashes of Angostura bitters.
  4. 3-4 Dashes of Peychaud’s bitters.
  5. 1 sugar cube.
  6. Lemon peel.


  1. Pour the Absinthe into a rocks glass (Old Fashioned glass), fill it with ice and leave it aside.
  2. In a mixing glass, muddle a lemon peel with the sugar and bitters.
  3. Pour the spirit, fill with ice, and stir.
  4. Discard the Absinthe and ice from the glass you put aside.
  5. Strain your cocktail into that same glass. No ice!
  6. Twist a lemon peel over the glass to extract the oils, rub it on the edge of the glass and leave as garnish or discard.
  7. Enjoy.

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