Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 8 a.m.
Nice and easy
In the midst of this cold weather blast, we look down the Mississippi River toward the Big Easy. It was in New Orleans that Antoine Peychaud first created this refined beauty in a glass: the Sazerac, so named for Sazerac French brandy.
"It's given credit as the first cocktail," explained our resident bar expert, Shawn Jones of Parlour and of the forthcoming Coup D'état
. "It depends on what you call a 'cocktail.' In the Middle Ages they were putting egg into mead, basically inventing the first flips. The Sazerac is a variation on an Old Fashioned, which was just a 'whiskey cocktail' before that. After that, people either loved the Sazerac or the "Old Fashioned" version of the whiskey cocktail."
So, it's like New Coke or Coke Classic? "Sure," Jones said. (People in their 40s will love that reference.)
Cognac was the original spirit used to make this drink, and Jones likes to use Pierre Ferrand. "Technique is every bit as important as mixing the drink. Fill the glass with ice and chill it. You want condensation. You can even add a touch of water and swirl it around. Dump out the ice. Then you want to rinse the glass with absinthe. It's important that the absinthe touches the glass, plus the absinthe holds the lemon." (If you want to get extra fancy, you can purchase an atomizer and simply spritz the interior of the glass with the absinthe.)
"With the New Orleans method, you never want the lemon peel in the drink," said Jones. "And then, I like to go hard on the Peychaud bitters, like four dashes."
So without further ado, here's the recipe for the perfect Sazerac:
2 oz Pierre Ferrand Cognac (or Rye like Old Overholt or Bulleit)
Small amount of Absinthe
4 dashes Peychaud Bitters
1 dash Angostura
1/4 oz simple syrup
In a mixing glass combine ice with a splash of water and let it sit until glass is chilled. Dump out. In your serving glass, add absinthe, swirl, and dump. In the mixing glass add spirit, bitters, and simple syrup. Stir vigorously, tasting every few seconds. Just as the burn of the whiskey begins to mellow, stop. Strain into serving glass. Express (twist) lemon peel over it, chuck the lemon peel, and serve.
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