Sazerac cocktail on table

The Sazerac - Official cocktail of New Orleans

By Timo Torner / Last updated on July 20, 2022 

First published on August 21, 2021 

The Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. It's a boozy mix of Cognac, Whiskey, Absinthe, and sugar.

The city of New Orleans is famous for various cocktails beyond the Sazerac and also for cocktail ingredients. 

Classic cocktails like the Ramos Gin Fizz, Vieux Carré, and the Brandy Crusta were all invented in New Orleans. 

However, the most famous of them still is the Sazerac cocktail. It is made with the finest Cognac, Rye Whiskey, Absinthe, sugar, and cocktail bitters.

And not only is the Sazerac cocktail a remarkably delicious drink, but its preparation also is quite extraordinary. Read on and learn more about the history of the Sazerac and how you can make it at home.

History of the Sazerac cocktail

The heavy French influence in New Orleans during the 1800s lead to many cocktail recipes with French ingredients. Keeping this in mind, it does not come as a big surprise that the original version of the Sazerac includes Cognac.

Origin of the Sazerac

Although there is no written proof, it's widely acknowledged that the Sazerac got invented by Dr. Antoine Amedie Peychaud. 

The Sazerac Cocktail

That name rings a bell? Indeed, it's Peychaud as in Peychaud's bitters. Peychaud presumably created the very first Sazerac cocktail in his own shop during the 1830s. -Not the first time he experimented with Brandy and his Peychaud bitters.

Where the name comes from

The first time someone prepared the Sazerac Cocktail in a bar was almost 20 years later. 

The "Coffee House", a bar Peychaud commonly visited, mixed the original version of the Sazerac cocktail with an excellent Cognac, the Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. 

As you might have guessed, this specific ingredient lends the cocktail its name. Et voila, the Sazerac was born.

Cognac got replaced with Rye

At some point in history, Cognac got replaced by Rye Whiskey. 

Some say this was because locals simply preferred Rye Whiskey as a base. That sounds reasonable as Rye Whiskey was the preferred spirit in New Orleans at this time.

Sazerac Cocktail

But there's another reason which is also valid: 

Back in the days, local vineyards were fighting an insect infestation which made the production of Cognac impossible. And when Cognac was no longer available, people substituted it with Rye Whiskey.

Sazerac-Style preparation

The preparation of the Sazerac is pretty unique. It is so special that this particular technique of prepping is often called Sazerac-style. 

It's not complicated, though. All you need to do is rinse one glass with Absinthe while mixing the actual drink in another one.

That might sound a bit redundant and odd, but the Sazerac is all about such little things. Done right, you will get an elusive mix of aromas - a cocktail that is balanced just perfectly.

Whiskey or Cognac to make a Sazerac?

As I mentioned, the original Sazerac cocktail recipe called for Cognac. So far, so good. 

But due to the circumstances described above, the recipe changed over time, and Rye Whiskey is now commonly used to make a Sazerac. 

Sazerac Cocktail on bar counter

The launch of a Rye Whiskey with the name Sazerac further enforced this development. -Even though the company also acquired and relaunched the original Cognac brand Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils.

Honestly, both versions work and deliver splendid results. And because sometimes being indecisive is okay, my preferred version of a Sazerac is using a split base. 

That means that the cocktail contains both spirits, Cognac and Rye. To round things up, I also like to add a bit of Bourbon in the base. It creates an extra broad and rich flavor profile.

Sazerac cocktail on table

Sazerac

The official cocktail of New Orleans.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: absinthe, Cognac, whiskey
Servings: 1
Calories: 189kcal
Cost: $3.30

Ingredients

  • 0.5 oz Absinthe for rinsing
  • 0.75 oz Cognac
  • 0.75 oz Straight Rye Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Bourbon Whiskey
  • 0.5 oz Simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1 lemon peel used as garnish

Instructions

  • Rinse an Old Fashioned glass with the Absinthe, fill it with plenty of ice, and put it aside.
    0.5 oz Absinthe
  • Add the other ingredients to a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir until the cocktail is well chilled.
    0.75 oz Cognac, 0.75 oz Straight Rye Whiskey, 0.5 oz Bourbon Whiskey, 0.5 oz Simple syrup, 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • Then take your Old Fashioned glass and remove the ice and all of the Absinthe. 
  • Strain the cocktail from the mixing glass into your Old Fashioned glass and garnish with a lemon peel. 
    1 lemon peel

Nutrition

Serving: 3oz | Calories: 189kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.6g | Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 0.75mg | Potassium: 35.85mg | Sugar: 11.1g | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.12mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

More Cognac Cocktails to try

If you like Cognac cocktails but look for something a little less boozy, try out the Horse's Neck with a kick. It's a beautiful combination of Cognac, ginger ale and Angostura Bitters.

Other Cognac cocktails to try are the Sidecar or Suffering Bastard, a rare combination of Cognac and Gin.

Subscribe to Cocktail Society!

Receive our latest recipes, reviews, and insights - straight to your inbox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Privacy PolicyContactAbout us
Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com.