Sadly, when people think of New Orleans and drinking these days the first image that pops into their mind is probably drunken frat guys at Mardi Gras. Which is true. But New Orleans has more than just drinking volume, it's got drinking history. I mean, this is the city where the modern cocktail was invented.
And the first cocktail that was invented was (arguably) the Sazerac. I was turned onto the Sazerac by a link from Making Light and started making them back in 2005. A Sazerac isn't too complicated to make, but it does involve three ingredients that you probably don't have in your standard home bar -- rye whiskey, Herbsaint liqueur, and Peychaud's bitters. If you've seen my home bar, you know that obscure liquors are my stock-in-trade, so finding all those pieces was no problem. And we've enjoyed the Sazeracs I've made, but never having had one that anyone else had made, there's always a lingering question of whether I'm doing it "right". So on a December 2006 trip to New Orleans, Erica and I decided to check in with some experts.
The place to get a Sazerac would be the Sazerac Bar at the then Fairmont, but the Fairmont was still closed from Katrina damage. (The hotel reopened in 2009 as the Roosevelt and the bar is open as well.) So we went to the Rib Room at the Omni Royal Orleans for Sazeracs and dessert.
So, yes, I was making them fine (the Rib Room uses Angostura bitters in addition to the Peychaud's bitters, but we'll let that slide).
Here's the recipe:
1/2 teaspoon Herbsaint (you could also use absinthe now that's it legal again in the US)
1 teaspoon of simple syrup
4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
You could use a tiny, tiny drop of Angostura bitters, but I think that's wrong
2 ounces rye whiskey (you'd think "Sazerac Rye" would be the best choice, but I prefer Old Overholt)
Strip of lemon peel
Chill a rocks glass. In another glass or Boston shaker combine ice, simple syrup, bitters, and rye. Stir gently to chill. Pour the Herbsaint into the chilled rocks glass and coat the inside of glass, pouring out the excess. Strain whiskey mixture into the rocks glass. Twist lemon peel over mixture to release lemon oil and then rub peel over the rim of the glass. Drink.
I got my recipe from Chuck Taggart's Gumbo Pages and he's got lots of more explicit directions and variations.
(Originally posted on FuzzyCo, December 8, 2006: Drinking our way across the South - the Sazerac)