How to Make a Classic Sazerac

The New Orleans–born, classic Sazerac leaves plenty of room for interpretation.

Henry Phillips

While early recipes for the Sazerac — America’s (alleged) first cocktail — called for Cognac, absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar, today’s iterations favor American-made parts. Anise-flavored Herbsaint for French absinthe, rye in lieu of imported Cognac. Bourbon is also a suitable substitute, says Rudy Oliva of the Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans, home to the famed Sazerac Bar, while orange or grapefruit peels can take the place of a lemon twist. Try your hand at the recipe below, and make it as local as liquids allow.

The Sazerac

Makes one cocktail

1.5 ounces Sazerac Rye Whiskey
0.25 ounce simple syrup
3–5 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
0.25 ounce Herbsaint
Lemon twist

1. Start with two rocks glasses. Fill one with ice (or place in freezer) and set aside to chill.

2. In the second glass, add whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters and simple syrup.

3. After the first glass gets frosty, dump the ice and rinse the glass with Herbsaint.

4. Add ice to second glass and stir 30 times.

5. Strain the contents of the second glass into the Herbsaint-rinsed glass.

6. Garnish with a lemon twist, rubbing the peel around the rim of the glass.

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