After a aperitif of pastis, with sun streaming in through the window onto our table at one of our favourite bars in Auckland, Mondial, we thought we’d follow up with a related digestif after dinner.

So to an old one but a good one – the Sazerac.

There seems to be a fair amount of controversy over this drinks beginnings (no it wasn’t the first cocktail – neither was it first made at the Sazerac bar in New Orleans). But it certainly took it’s place as a classic New Orleans drink. You can go into just about any decent bar in the city and soon you’ll be sipping a drink that has remained unchanged since the late 1800s. Put simply, it really is just a Whiskey or Brandy cocktail (we’re being rather non-chronological here, so we’ll come to them later!) with a dash of bitters & Absinthe.

So here it is. A translation of Tom Handy’s recipe (ex-manager of the Sazerac bar, head quarters of the drink until Prohibition closed it down):

Measures & Instructions:

  • a few dashes Absinthe (Pernod/Ricard is a good alternative) for rinsing the glass
  • 1/2 tsp sugar & a little water (or 1/2 tsp home-made sugar syrup)
  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey OR Brandy*
  • 2 dashes of Peychauds bitters (or Angostura if you absolutely must)

Place sugar syrup, whiskey & bitters into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
Stir well until cold (20 secs will do).
Take a chilled old fashioned bar glass (short straight-sided, flat-bottomed).
Add several drops of the pernod/ricard & rinse the glass with it.
Pour out any excess.
Strain the cocktail into the glass.
Add 1 piece of twisted lemon peel (twist it over the drink to cover it with lemon oil before throwing it in).
Serve with iced water on the side.

*Brandy had been the spirit of choice until around the late 1800s when Phylloxera started to wipe out the vines, pushing up brandy prices, allowing whiskey to take it’s place.