There are those nights. The ones when your inner Kray brother needs to be released. In your bespoke pinstriped, peak lapel suit paired with a dark purple tie and black PVD Rolex, you are the sartorial equivalent of a mash-up of Miles Davis and the Sex Pistols. And when you are this dangerously rakish, only one drink has a place in your hand—the Sazerac.
Widely (albeit incorrectly) credited as America’s oldest cocktail, this official drink of New Orleans (the drink’s birthplace) is a complex twist on an Old Fashioned. The drink is dark, sophisticated, dangerous, and the perfect compliment to “those nights.”
The defining feature of the Sazerac is its use of Peychaud's Bitters, originally created around 1830 by Antoine Amédée Peychaud, a Creole apothecary in New Orleans in 1795. The distinct flavor cannot be duplicated and, therefore, cannot be substituted in this drink. The other characteristic of this drink is that it is served in a chilled Old Fashioned glass that has been washed in absinthe. And because this drink has so much history, there is a ritualistic preparation involved.
1 sugar cube (1 bar spoon of simple syrup)
2.5 oz. rye whisky
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
To do the ritual properly, swirl a ½ ounce of absinthe (anisettes such as Pastis, Pernod, Ricard, or Herbsaint can be used if you do not have absinthe) in one Old Fashioned glass, making sure to evenly coat all sides. Fill that glass with ice cubes and set aside.
In a second Old Fashioned glass, muddle the sugar cube with a few drops of water (or just use simple syrup). Add the Peychaud's and Angostura bitters and give it a quick stir. Fill the glass with ice cubes and pour in the rye. A Sazerac should be made with premium rye, such as Sazerac, Templeton, High West, or Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. Stir well.
Pour the ice and absinthe out of your first glass (save the absinthe in a third glass and serve it as a backer like they do at Lantern's Keep ). Strain the drink with a julep strainer into the now empty (and still chilled) absinthe-coated glass. Squeeze the lemon peel essence on the top and garnish with the peel.
Now sit back, sip, and plot the dangerously refined night that lies ahead…