In 2008 the Louisiana legislature voted to make the Sazerac the official cocktail of New Orleans.  Legend has it that Antoine Amedee Peychaud, a Creole apothecary from Saint-Dominique (now Haiti), invented the drink.  When he later immigrated to New Orleans, the pharmacist marketed the mixture of his namesake bitters with water, brandy and sugar as a cure for whatever ailed you.  The combination grew in popularity until perfectly healthy people began to appear at Peychaud’s shop in search of a refill.

William T. Boothby’s 1908 cocktail manual, The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them, confirms that the drink eventually transitioned from brandy to a rye whiskey base. It also gained an absinthe “rinse” of the glass to enhance the anise flavor of Peychaud’s bitters.  If you’re lacking absinthe, a similar pastis like Ricard or Pernod can be substituted.

¼ ounce absinthe, or a similar pastis like Ricard or Pernod

2 ounces rye whiskey (you can substitute brandy)

¼ ounce simple syrup

4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

lemon twist (for garnish)


1.   Pour the absinthe into a chilled rocks glass.  Swirl to coat the interior, then discard the excess liquor.

2.    In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine the whiskey, simple syrup and bitters.  Stir until well chilled, 30 to 40 seconds.  Strain into absinthe-rinsed glass (without ice), garnish with lemon twist and serve neat.


adapted from Dylan Garret, Wine Enthusiast

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