Sazerac is America’s First Cocktail

The Sazerac—another bar gem of French extraction—is sometimes referred to as America’s first cocktail.

A Sazerac cocktail is an exquisite blend drink mixed with cognac and bitters.

The Sazerac was created by Creole immigrant Antoine Peychaud in New Orleans’ French Quarter in the 19th century, and has since been dubbed the “iconic drink of New Orleans” by food and drink expert John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

In contemporary New Orleans, the definitive version of the Sazerac can be found in the oiled-wood Library Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, where bartender-supreme Chris McMillan is known for mixing the finest of southern cocktails.

For those who enjoy the sensation of “drinking a flower,” Chris also makes an exceptional Ramos Gin Fizz, a sweet and frothy cocktail whose creation requires about three minutes of shaking, so that its egg whites blend perfectly with the orange blossom water.

Here’s how you make one:
1 teaspoon of simple syrup (or 1 sugar cube or 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar)
3 – 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 ounces rye whiskey (most New Orleans bars use Old Overholt)
1/4 teaspoon Herbsaint, a New Orleans brand of anise liqueur
(You may use Pernod, or some other pastis or absinthe substitute)
Strip of lemon peel

The traditional method: Pack a 3-1/2 ounce old fashioned glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, moisten the sugar cube with just enough water to saturate it, then crush. Blend with the whiskey and bitters. Add a few cubes of ice and stir to chill. Discard the ice from the first glass and pour in the Herbsaint. Coat the inside of the entire glass, pouring out the excess. Strain the whiskey into the Herbsaint coated glass. Twist the lemon peel over the glass so that the lemon oil cascades into the drink, then rub the peel over the rim of the glass; do not put the twist in the drink. Or, as Stanley Clisby Arthur says, “Do not commit the sacrilege of dropping the peel into the drink.”

Recipe from


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