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The Sazerac - perfected!


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#1 Mayzandas

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 07:00 PM

Every now and then, my wife or myself — sometimes the both of us — goes on a "recipe" quest, trying to find the perfect recipe for something that we love and can't always get when we want it.

Some of these "quests" have literally taken years, borrowing cookbooks from the library, or buying them when the library didn't have them, poring over the "food" section of the local rag each Wednesday, scouring the 'Net like some hopeless old pedfoodophile, hungry for his next fix.

I guess it really started when we moved to a town where no one — not one single damn restaurant in the whole goddam town — seemed capable of making "real" apple pancakes. You know, the kind that puff up in the oven, the kind that leave the upstairs and downstairs swimming in the scent of cinnamon and apples and brown sugar the whole rest of the day. The kind that, depending on your mood and what the scale says the next morning, either leaves you feeling satisfied for days, or committed more than ever to your diet. (You don't know? I'm sorry...)

My wife makes the best damn margarita I ever drank, and I make the best damn hollandaise sauce and "tuna-chip casserole." Crêpes, omelettes, onion soufflés, crême brulée, Harvey Wallbanger cake, chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars, English toffee, even meat loaf — you get the picture. (Yes, my wife makes the world's best meat loaf!) But I digress...

I really like absinthe. And whiskey. And I love rock 'n' rye, which is basically rye, sugar, and some citrus flavors. Seemed like a Sazerac would be right up my alley. But it turned into another of these quests. (Yes, I even threw a few drinks down the drain!)

The first Sazerac I tried was the recipe at Liqueurs de France. Of course, bolstered by several posts I read here at WWS, I used rye instead of cognac. Couldn't find Sazerac Rye in this hick town (that also doesn't know what an apple pancake is!), so I went with Old Overholt. I was actually able to find Peychaud's, though, right here at one of the specialty markets - a long drive, but cheaper than hiring a flying monkey. I found the LdF recipe way too absinthe-y. Then I tried a recipe in a long o-o-p bartending guide my wife received as a wedding gift for her first marriage. Yuck — way too... I don't know... too yucky. (The author even admitted that it didn't seem to please absinthe drinkers or whiskey drinkers!)

Anyway... Here's my recipe, bit of a work in progress. Some of you might find it too sweet, but I'm pretty pleased:

For each person, fill a small old-fashioned glass (the "serving glass") with finely crushed ice (or ice and cold water) and set aside to chill the glass.

Fill a mixing glass or shaker with ice. For each drink, measure:

2 oz. rye whiskey
3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
1 tsp. sugar syrup

Stir until you are sure the sugar syrup has been thoroughly dissolved. Let this mix sit to chill on the ice while you empty the ice from the serving glasses. To each of the serving glasses, add:

1 tsp. absinthe

...and swirl around, coating the sides. Do not discard the absinthe! Just leave it in the serving glass.

Strain the rye/bitters/sugar mix into the serving glass, stir gently to incorporate the absinthe. Twist a strip of lemon peel over the glass and drop into the drink as a garnish.


I apologize for the length of this post. I used to get paid by the word, and I probably tried a few too many recipe variations tonight! Anyway, your comments are always welcome. Salût! :cheers:
"What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?" - W. C. Fields

#2 Brian Robinson

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 07:06 PM

Much love to the recipe seekers! :cheers:

You seem to be the type that would like this book. Jeffrey Steingarten goes on many similar quests. I find him to be very misunderstood because he has a quirky sense of humor. People think he's being insulting, when he's actually just joking around. But I digress...
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#3 Mayzandas

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 07:56 PM

Much love to the recipe seekers! :cheers:

You seem to be the type that would like this book. Jeffrey Steingarten goes on many similar quests. I find him to be very misunderstood because he has a quirky sense of humor. People think he's being insulting, when he's actually just joking around. But I digress...


Cool - thanks for the tip! I'm vaguely aware of JS - I've seen his books circulating at the library where I work. And I love collections of essays, so I've added to my list of holds at the libe.

Here's one backatcha: The garden of eating : food, sex, and the hunger for meaning / Jeremy Iggers. I'm eating reading it right now. More about food than cocktails, but quite interesting...
"What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?" - W. C. Fields

#4 ejellest

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 07:57 PM

:cheers: Mayzandas, your Sazerac recipe sounds about perfect to me too.

That Sazerac recipe on the LdF site is pretty odd. 1 1/2 oz Absinthe and 2 oz of whiskey!

That's crazy talk. It's a whiskey (or Cognac) cocktail, not an Absinthe cocktail.

That's more like an Extra Large "Choker Cocktail" (cocktaildb link, lists pastis instead of the Absinthe the recipe should call for) than a Sazerac.

~Erik
Erik Ellestad
Bernal Heights, San Francisco, CA, USA

#5 Brian Robinson

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 08:03 PM

Thanks!

If you like culinary essays, check out this one too. Some of them are absolutely hillarious!

1 1/2 oz Absinthe and 2 oz of whiskey!


That's gotta be a typo. Maybe 1 1/2 tsp or tbsp of absinthe?
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#6 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 06 July 2007 - 09:13 PM

That's a Sazerac alright (Mayzandas recipe). You should have just looked at the CocktailDB. ;)

By the way, that whole packing the glass with ice ritual was just because freezers weren't all that common in the 1830's. I just keep a bunch of 3oz cocktail glasses in the freezer; it keeps the drink cold a lot longer too.

Old Overholt makes a perfectly respectable Sazerac, as does Rittenhouse. I will be picking up a few bottles of Sazerac Rye while I'm in NOLA though!

If you like Sazeracs, try one of these:

Many thanks to Paul Clarke, who turned me on to Cocktail à la Louisiane last night.

You guys probably know by now that my favorite cocktail is a Sazerac, but this one just came pretty darn close to knocking the king off his mountain. However, if the Sazerac is the iconic southern dandy, strutting down the boardwalk of the Vieux Carré, the Cocktail à la Louisiane is the gussied-up lady in the bustle and the big hat with maribou trim, gently clinging to his arm.


Cocktail a la Louisiane

  • 3/4 oz. rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. Benedictine
  • 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 3 dashes absinthe
  • 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Stir with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.


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#7 Robert (DrinkBoy) Hess

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 09:22 AM

I apologize for the length of this post. I used to get paid by the word, and I probably tried a few too many recipe variations tonight! Anyway, your comments are always welcome. Salût! :cheers:


I wish more people took the time to not only discover/determine their own "perfect" recipe for a particular cocktail, but also to properly document it to others. Looking at the recipes in various cocktail guides remindes me of the early recipes for things like an apple pie where the only instructions for making the crust are along the lines of "combine flour and butter to form a dough".

Here is one of my writeups about the Sazerac.

I keep some absinthe in an atomizer so that I can put a nice solid coating on the inside of the glass. At it's core, I suppose that same amount of absinthe could simply be added as an ingredient instead of the "coat the glass" thing, but you could also just use simple syrup to make an absinthe drip :->

My wife makes the best damn margarita I ever drank...


Would love to know your recipe. I struggled with trying to find what I felt were the perfect ratios for a Margarita, and then finally settled on 3 parts silver tequila, 2 parts Cointreau, 1 part fresh lime juice, and feel it does very good.

-Robert

#8 Auguru

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 10:19 AM

Any preferences on the absinthe used in a Sazerac?

I've used several and most were fine, but last night I tried using Libertine 72 and it came out quite different than the others. Probably won't use it again.

As with Hiram, I would endorse both Old Overholt and the Rittenhouse for this cocktail. Michter's was good too, but seemed like a waste at over double the cost of the others. Besides, I like it better straight.
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#9 ejellest

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 10:32 AM

My favorite Rye for Sazeracs is Wild Turkey. Nice and spicy!

It would be interesting to do a blind Sazerac comparison using different Absinthes and Absinthe substitutes.

I tend to leave a bit more Absinthe (or substitute) in the glass, since I enjoy the flavor. Some bartenders will shake all the Absinthe out of the glass, so almost all that is left is the scent.

~Erik
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Bernal Heights, San Francisco, CA, USA

#10 thegreenimp

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 11:46 AM

Any preferences on the absinthe used in a Sazerac?


I have to ration it, but my favorite is with this. Something about the old stuff...
Surprisingly, the modern Herbsaint works well in a Sazerac.

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#11 JM_Xian

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 07:24 AM

Here it is. Print it out and keep it. It's THE recipe for the old/new sazerac:

Go to http://stores.ebay.c...ible-Connection and get the Sazerac 18 yr rye ($119.00) - I buy from this guy all the time - he's more than fair.

Get some THICK rocks glasses (smaller the better) - put in freezer for at least an hour or simply store a couple in there. If you do this, put an open box of Arm and Hammer in there to keep it from getting the "taste" of the freezer

Have your bottle of Peychaud's handy. Use strong herbal tasting absinthe (1901, Verte Suisse, Eichelberger Verte 68)

Get your shaker ready. Load it up with ice.

Now, here's where it comes to personal tastes:

Add 2 oz. rye whiskey (I use 3 but 2 is just fine)

Add 3 dashes of Peychaud's.

Take out a frozen rocks glass. Add about 1/2 oz of absinthe and swirl. Pour whats left into the shaker.

Shake ten times (frost will appear on your shaker)

Pour into glass.

Take thick slice of orange rind and fold it up tight - take this and wipe along the rim generously

Sit down, relax, and focus on the drink - consume.

Should not take more than 10 minutes to drink - it will warm up, flavors seperate, and it's just not as good.

Now that you have THE knowledge, please use it for the good of cocktails everywhere.

#12 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 08:09 AM

THE recipe, eh? Where'd you find that? I'm sure that makes a pleasant drink, but I'd never shake a Sazerac, and it's all about the lemon twist. And where's the sugar? ;)

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#13 JM_Xian

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 08:28 AM

No sugar needed. The 18 yr Sazerac is so smooth that you can skip the sugar. In turn, you can taste every subtle flavor of the drink. The lemon is traditional but I prefer an orange - it's more subtle, slight citrus, and again, you can taste everything very evenly.

You wouldn't shake a Sazerac? Next time I see you I will make two Sazeracs - one shaken and one slightly stirred. You tell me which is which. I would bet a bottle of Eich that you can't tell.

OK, how about, 10 swirls of the shaker instead of shaking it?

When the Sazerac originated, it was much cheaper to use lemons that have no problem growing in LA than to import oranges. Now that that doesn't hold true - try a sazerac with an orange twist - I think you will like it.

#14 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 08:50 AM

I have no doubt that I would like it, I'm just saying that it's not either of the traditional recipes.

As for sugar, we could start a war over it—and have—but the original recipe makes a Sazerac a sweet drink. How sweet or dry is a matter of taste, but it has nothing to do with how smooth the rye is. Perception of bitterness or the need for sugar is a genetic trait.

I didn't say "slight" stirring. A good long vigorous stir with plenty of ice will chill the drink quite well with a proper degree of dilution; shaking splinters the ice, which goes into the drink and further dilutes it.

As I said, I'm sure what you're making there would be a perfectly nice drink, it's just not THE Sazerac.

Such a simple thing as using an onion to garnish a Martini makes it a Gibson instead; I'd say leaving out the sugar and using orange would have a substantial impact on the overall character of the drink. If I ordered a Sazerac and they gave me that, I'd be very surprised and somewhat disappointed.

And I think you owe us an introduction. ;)

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#15 JM_Xian

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 08:55 AM

You're right. I didn't think of those things. I sit corrected.

It could be two things:

I really like the 18yr old Sazerac rye and I never use sugar.

Edited by Xian, 08 July 2007 - 09:01 AM.


#16 Deluge

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 08:22 AM

Posted Image

#17 Auguru

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 08:30 PM

Back to the earlier question: which absinthes pair well with which rye? Any preferences or is everyone opportunistic and use whatever is closest at hand?
"If I can't drink, I don't want to be in your revolution ..."
-- Emma Goldman

"Beneath the stars there are the bars that serve the bitter drink..."
-- Be Bop Deluxe ("Life in the Air Age" from the "Sunburst Finish" album)

#18 elfnmagik

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 04:35 AM

Not a direct answer to your question Auggie, but here are some older posts from Egullet discussing both the cocktail and ryes that I found interesting.
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#19 hissykitties

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 05:16 AM

We'll make some next weekend.
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#20 elfnmagik

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 06:51 AM

~slurp~
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#21 CurtisG

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 08:13 PM

I will try my hand at a Sazerac.......
After i find some apple pancakes you have made me crave....curse you :laugh:
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#22 Larspeart

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Posted 04 August 2007 - 09:03 PM

I was doing Saz's tonight myself. I have messed around with amounts and whatnot for a month now (not satisfied with a few that I had found, plus finding the 'perfect' brands) for mine. Here is what I have come up with.

2 oz of Sazerac Rye
1tsp Pernod 1906 Repro (although Jade NO works well also)
4 good dashes of Peychaud (I know I use more then most- I love bitters)
1/4 tsp of simple syrup. I know this is on the low end.
1 good lemon twist, zested/cut over the glass to catch the oils.
Ice- cubed.

I tend to coat my glass pretty unscientifically (I just coat it by spinning it on its side), and I do NOT throw away the excess. Call me uncultured. I just can't bring myself to throw away good absinthe. Add the rye, syrup, and then 4 good-sized dashes of bitters. A few quick stirs of the barspoon. Then, cut your twist over the top of your glass. you'll catch a little of the oh-so-delightful oils from your lemon into your glass. Add ice, and ba-da-bing. My Saz.

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#23 mpalumbo

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 11:27 AM

After bartending in New Orleans for 7 years, I'm now in Seattle making Sazeracs. My method stems from the most common method used in New Orleans at most of the older bars such as Arnauds French 75 bar etc... We managed to bring back some herbsaint from New Orleans (because the Washington State Liquor Board chooses to not carry it). Although not as good as most absinthe or pastis in this drink, it adds that authentic flavor that we became used to.

In an ice cold rocks/old fashion glass, coat with herbsaint and dump.

Next, in a shaker filled with ice, add 3 oz of rye whiskey, 1 dash of Peychauds bitters, 1 dash of Angustora (or Fee Bros. aromatic bitters.

Shake and strain into glass (or stir if you don't like cloudy whiskey)

Take a short lemon twist around the rim of the glass (oil side down), and drop the entire twist into the drink.

The only thing that I hate to see is this drink put into a martini glass. I've seen this a lot in Seattle. This drink, in my opinion is cocktail perfection in it's purest and simplest form.

#24 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 11:59 AM

A New Orleans bartender with a working knowledge of Sazeracs, bitters, and herbsaint?

You'll find no friends here, dude. B)
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#25 fryke

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 12:07 PM

1tsp Pernod 1906 Repro

Talking about PF 1901 in a fancy way or have I missed out on someone other than Jade making Pernod Fils reproductions?

#26 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 01:08 PM

I believe Lars may be referring to a non-commercial product.

In an ice cold rocks/old fashion glass, coat with herbsaint and dump.

Next, in a shaker filled with ice, add 3 oz of rye whiskey, 1 dash of Peychauds bitters, 1 dash of Angustora (or Fee Bros. aromatic bitters.

Shake and strain into glass (or stir if you don't like cloudy whiskey)

Take a short lemon twist around the rim of the glass (oil side down), and drop the entire twist into the drink.

The only thing that I hate to see is this drink put into a martini glass. I've seen this a lot in Seattle. This drink, in my opinion is cocktail perfection in it's purest and simplest form.

I couldn't agree more. The Sazerac is hands down my favorite cocktail. That's how they make 'em at the Carousel too. I like a dash of Angostura now and again, and I always use 3-4 dashes of Peychaud's. Should be a little sugar in there somewhere too. ;) If you haven't already, think about adding a la Louisiane to your repertoire. It's brilliant.

A New Orleans bartender with a working knowledge of Sazeracs, bitters, and herbsaint?

You'll find no friends here, dude. B)

Yes he will. DrinkBoy and I ran across mpalumbo at the Steelhead one afternoon (evening?) while out carousing. He took good care of us.

And I just need to get this out of the way: Oompa Loompa. There. I said it. Someone would have sooner or later.

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Confessions of an Absinthiste


#27 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 01:40 PM

Where's that Sazeracasm emoticon?



edit; I know you didn't think I was serious, H, I just knew I might never get another chance to use that word in a sentence.
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#28 Gwydion Stone

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 01:47 PM

Oh, crap, I totally misread your post! I thought it said "You'll find friends here, dude."

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Confessions of an Absinthiste


#29 ShaiHulud

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 03:22 PM

...In an ice cold rocks/old fashion glass, coat with herbsaint and dump.

Dump? *gasp* I hope you mean into your mouth!!
Litany against fear of Absinthe - I must not fear Absinthe. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my Absinthe. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the Absinthe has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

#30 mpalumbo

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 03:36 PM


...In an ice cold rocks/old fashion glass, coat with herbsaint and dump.

Dump? *gasp* I hope you mean into your mouth!!


You can always compensate by pouring less. Yes, I feed my barsink pretty well sometimes.


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