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The Sazerac - perfected!

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You mean the vermouth? White. I didn't know there was a red Noilly Prat.

 

I also haue Genievre gin, Canadian rye, Apple Brandy, and Green Chartreuse in my bar. I made a 75 tonight which was good but I'd like to experiment with other gins for this cocktail.

Edited by Babble

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Just made a Sazerac using Harry Craddock's recipe. The funny thing is that the recipe calls for 1 lump sugar, dash Angostura, glass of rye or CC, stir and strain the add dash of absinthe and lemon twist. I was able to make this version of a Sazerac because you cannot get Peychauds here, only Angostura. I thought Sazerac always called for Peychauds. This recipe was apparently Harry Craddock's but I thought he wrote the Savoy cocktail book of 1930 in which the Sazerac in that book calls for Peychauds? Weird? Anyway I enjoyed the cocktail. This recipe was found in Whisky magazine.

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I wouldn't call that recipe a Sazerac recipe.

 

The only substitute for Peychaud's would be vintage Legendre bitters, or Sazerac bitters, and the chance of finding those is somewhat limited.

 

LegendreOldNewOrleansBitters.jpg

 

sazbitters.jpg

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The drink was pretty good. I know its not a Sazerac but the crazy thing is that it was listed as Harry Craddock's recipe when clearly it's not.

 

Does GS own me? I didn't know that was what I was signing up for1 :)

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You would be the one stop Sazerac shop! I'm seeing a Sazerac kit..... :thumbup:

 

 

If the Herbsaint Original sells well, no telling what might follow it...

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I have enjoyed the Sazerac a few times! I had my first one at the Eclipse lounge in St. Louis.

 

When making them at home, I have found that coating the glass with Versinthe is a great way to get rid of this crap. Versinthe has sugar in it and it smells fantastic when the alcohol evaporates coating the glass with a glaze. The overpowering bitterness that is present in the Versinthe is gone when used to coat the glass. I have used Sazerac rye and Peychauds bitters with both a sugar cube and sugar syrup. I prefer the syrup to the cube. Unfortunately when I was making them I did not have a lemon so I did not have a twist. I will have to try that next. The Sazerac is one tasty cocktail! I told my girlfriend that I have found my "grown-up cocktail" of choice.

 

Has anyone tried using bourbon instead of rye? I have seen Buffalo Trace as a substitute in one recipe.

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...

Unfortunately when I was making them I did not have a lemon so I did not have a twist. I will have to try that next.

...

 

Has anyone tried using bourbon instead of rye? I have seen Buffalo Trace as a substitute in one recipe.

 

 

I think the twist makes a big difference to the cocktail, especially when rubbed on the rim and dropped in. Some people drop the twist in, some people consider that heresy. I prefer the extra citrus, especially with a high-proof rye which can stand up to all the modifiers and still shine through.

 

As for trying different spirits, experimenting is fun. I have tried it with all manner of whiskeys, applejack and dark rums. The rums were a bust, so was the scotch, but the applejack actually was quite good. My favorite is still with the baby saz rye, but Laird's 100 Proof Apple Brandy was surprisingly good in a sazerac.

 

Perhaps enough of a change to merit a different name though. Perhaps Sazer-jack? :D

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I favour a brandy Sazerac. Go for Cognac if you can afford it, but VSOP isn't mellow or round enough for this drink.

I think if you use aged brandy then you don't need sugar and you still get a very smooth and creamy drink.

 

As others have said, it's best to swirl the absinthe enough so it coats high up the sides where it won't get washed away. That way you always get that scent without needing spoonfuls of absinthe in the glass. Of course the lemon peel is essential. If I was bartending and someone demanded no lemon peel, I'd squeeze one over the glass, swirl it in the drink, and throw it away.

 

I don't think a dash of Angostura ruins the drink, but there definitely needs to be more Peychaud's than Angostura.

 

edit - Oh, and since someone asked, Jade NO is my go to Sazerac absinthe because it has a certain spice that just fits deliciously. I'd say if you use Jade NO, don't use any Angostura bitters. If you don't use NO, use a small dash (a few drops) of Angostura.

Edited by thickasabrick

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See, and there is where I disagree on aged spirits and 'certain' cocktails (a sazerac being one of them).

 

A Sazerac is, to me anyway, NOT a mellow drink. The original sazies were WAY high proof- the brandies and (especially) the ryes and whiskies were typically 107-126 proof, and (very, very importantly) UN-aged. They went from distillery to barrel, to coach/train, to your bar, and that was as long as they got for barrel-aging, friend.

 

A 'gin-u-wine' sazie (or really, most any pre-1900 cocktail) is using rougher stuff than most of us are used to dealing in. I did a session at GAAF where I tried to highlight this, actually. We 'moderns' often think the good old days were always better. This simply isn't true in many cases, and where whisky/rum/brandy is concerned, this is doubly true. Yes, VSOP's and XO brandies and cognacs were available back then. However, chances are, the early NOLA bartender wouldn't be using them in a cocktail. If he was lucky enough to have the clientele that would call for those, they'd be calling for them neat (and odds are, he didn't have that clientele unless he was working at the finest bordelos in town, where- again- they'd order those tipples neat, not mixed).

 

I do, however, agree with everythin else you stated, :) :) !

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Except that the drink was named after Sazerac de Forge et Fils cognac, which was of high quality. And cognac has to be aged to even be considered cognac, does it not?

However, chances are, the early NOLA bartender wouldn't be using them in a cocktail.

Chances are he wasn't a bartender. but a pharmacist. And everybody goes to the pharmacist, even the whores. Maybe especially the whores. And their clients.

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Except that the drink was named after Sazerac de Forge et Fils cognac, which was of high quality. And cognac has to be aged to even be considered cognac, does it not?

However, chances are, the early NOLA bartender wouldn't be using them in a cocktail.

Chances are he wasn't a bartender. but a pharmacist. And everybody goes to the pharmacist, even the whores. Maybe especially the whores. And their clients.

 

I had a cold and drank absinthe and my throat felt better, so it is a health tonic! I am not sure that it fights STDs though. :)

 

The Sazerac has been my go-to cocktail as of late. I use rye, but I would like to try a cognac version.

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Thank you!

Thank you!

Thank you!

I am 45 and had my first Sazerac a few weeks ago. Way to long to go with out experiencing this. I used the High West Rendezvous Rye and Leopolds Absinthe. I probably used a little bit more sugar and a bit more absinthe than most, but that was my taste. I absolutely love this drink. I do, however, have a question. When I cut off my lemon peel from a fresh lemon and twist it over my glass I never seem to see any of these oils you all speak about. Could it be i am doing it wrong?

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You should, however, see the oils swirling on the surface of your drink if you look at it slightly from the side. You should also smell them when you raise the glass to your lips.

 

Don't know what kind of "twist" you're using, but try cutting off a quarter-sized (and shaped) piece of the peel from the side of your lemon (being careful to remove as little of the white pith underneath as possible). Hold this, peel side facing down, between your thumb and forefinger a couple of inches over the drink. Pinch the peel so that it bows downward in the direction of your drink. If it comes from a nice, fresh lemon, you should see a fine mist of oils expressed onto the drink. No actual "twisting" involved here. Don't forget to rub the peel around the rim of your glass afterward. What you do with it next is up to you (I drop mine in).

Edited by AiO

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That is actually pretty neat. I can see a little oil slick on the top of the drink.

 

And yes it is 1:45 on a Tuesday afternoon and I am drinking a Sazerac, so what! :cheers:

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Gonna give this a try, as soon as I can find some Peychaud's. I have no rye whiskey at the moment, so I'll probably try a brandy Sazerac first. Any objections to using Pacifique for this?

 

Also wondered (and don't shoot me for this): what would it be like to use Grande Absente? I'm not exactly rolling in cash, so it'd be kind of nice to be able to just get one of those little ten dollar bottles of Grande Absente that the liquor stores around here carry to keep around for this sort of thing, instead of using my good Pacifique. Would that just be blasphemous?

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Use the Pacifique!

You only need enough to rinse the glass, about a teaspoon or so. Just pour the rinse back into the bottle.

 

As for the Grande Absente: If you have already tried it by itself, and like it. Then that is up to you.

If you have tried it and don't like it.,, then you are just wasting ten bucks.

Good cocktails come from good ingredients. :cheerz:

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I was sitting up awake far too early the other day, so I began poking around the forum. Needless to say, I've read a lot of these threads, so sometimes I'll see what current users are reading and take a look, or re-look at what pops up. Well, someone was using this thread so I re-read it and then decided to read all nine of the threads dealing specifically with some facet of the Sazerac Cocktail.

The Sazerac is very near and dear to my heart. It's one of the reasons I ever got to know absinthe in the first place. It's just about ten years since I made my first one, and I can't realistically estimate how many I've made since then. Suffice it to say... lots.

Over the past few years, I've tutored a number of the better barkeeps in my market on some aspect or aspects of their mixed-drink skills. Whenever we get past fundamental techniques and on to specific drinks, one of the first principles I try to get them to buy in to is that to make a drink it’s best, you have to understand what it’s trying to be. Well, ten years and scads of Sazeracs in, I've had plenty of opportunity to consider this, and I think I have it pretty well nailed down. A good many bar patrons, mixologists, and chefs have all told me that the Sazeracs I've served them are the best they've ever had.

One such friend, one of Connecticut's most accomplished chefs (tons of recognitions, multiple James Beard nominations, winner on the show, Chopped) and I have chatted about the Sazerac a couple of times. We are both in agreement that while not difficult to make, it is one of the easiest drinks to screw up, and it frequently is. He told me once that when he was actively involved in hiring bartenders, his litmus test to see what fine-lined aesthetic senses the candidate had was the request “make me a Sazerac”. I completely get it, and as such, herein is my “manifesto” on the Sazerac Cocktail. We'll cover the recipe, methods, ingredients, and common pitfalls. And finally, I'll clue you in as to “what it's trying to be”. Pay attention, and next time you put one of these in front of a friend, you'll be able to sit back and grin like the Cheshire Cat because you'll have just blown their face off completely with one of the world's best cocktails.

The Recipe

Whiskey: 2 oz Rye Whiskey
Sugar: .25 oz 1:1 simple syrup, 1 tsp 2:1 simple syrup, or 1 tsp granular or lump sugar if making the true “old fashioned” way
Bitters: 2 full dashes of Peychaud's (or equivalent) bitters, and 1-2 drops of Angostura bitters
Absinthe: approximately 1 tsp of any good quality absinthe with a traditional profile
Lemon peel: 1 nice sized piece of peel from a fresh, healthy lemon

The Method

Into a chilled mixing glass goes: the simple syrup, or the dry sugar, muddled into syrup with approximately 1 tsp of water, the bitters, and the whiskey.

Into a chilled service glass (rocks glass) goes: the absinthe, then rotated such as to crawl the absinthe up the sides of the glass to a point well north of the eventual wash line of the drink. Pour out excess and set aside.

Add ice to the mixing glass ingredients and stir to mix, chill, and dilute.

Before straining, check the service glass to see how much absinthe has puddled in the bottom. You ideally want no more than you can see barely move around when agitated. If it appears excessive gently pour out the excess.

Strain mixing glass ingredients into the service glass.

Cut lemon peel over the drink. Express oil on the drink, and grace the rim of the glass both inside and out with the peel side of the twist. Traditionally, the peel is now discarded, however in a commercial establishment, I think most customers, especially those uninitiated to this drink, like to see a garnish. It ultimately makes no difference to the drink, and if the customer were in front of me, I would let them make that decision.

Ingredients

Whiskey: Good affordable options; Rittenhouse Rye BIB, Wild Turkey 101 Rye, Sazerac 6 year Rye, Russell's Reserve Rye, High West Double Rye. Best option, very high quality without breaking the bank: Pikesville Rye. The ultimate, money no object: Thomas Handy Rye.

Sugar: Syrup made from standard white, refined sugar is perfectly acceptable, and also is in the “old fashioned” method of preparation. When employing “old fashioned” preparation, I personally like the character of unrefined sugar... like Sugar in the Raw, or the unrefined sugar cubes sold at better grocers. I'm betting syrup made from Sugar in the Raw would be great for anyone who wants to make it in advance. I'd avoid Demerara only because it's always a little muddy looking. My absolute favorite way to sweeten this drink is with DuBois Petite Canne Sugar Cane Syrup. With some honeyed notes and serious viscosity, it adds subtle aromatic and flavor nuances and a luxurious mouthfeel that is unequaled by anything other than gomme syrup. Since sugar cane syrup is a little less sweet than refined sugar, you'll want to use about 1/3 oz (or 2 tsp).

Bitters: Peychaud's and Angostura, of course. There are other brands of “creole” bitters out there, however Peychaud's has long been considered standard to this drink and one of its defining elements, but feel free to experiment.

Absinthe: Good affordable options; Pacifique, Vilya Verte, Duplais Verte, Vieux Pontarlier. When you just want it right; Any of the Jades.

Lemon peel: I know this might seem silly to address, but I can't tell you how many times I've had an otherwise very good drink compromised by a twist from a tired lemon. A tired lemon peel smells and tastes like a tired lemon peel. Keep it fresh and snappy. If it is loosing color, is starting to feel soft, or obviously dehydrated, you're going to damage all the proper work you did up to this point. The lemon oil and its aromas are what adds the final focus and brightness to this and any other drink. If you feel you must use those last five lemons that have been laying around in the walk-in for a week, juice them with some fresher ones or let the kitchen use them. A quick stop at the grocery on the way into work to hand pick some garnish quality lemons and limes is all it takes to ensure you put out drinks like the rock star you want to be.

Common Pitfalls

In my opinion, the number one rookie mistake made with this drink is leaving too much absinthe in the glass. Whether it is driven from the desire to not want to waste the absinthe or the idea that this is a rye whiskey and absinthe cocktail the outcome is the same; the integrated balance of the aromatics will now be lopsided since absinthe is such a forceful ingredient. Don't get sucked into the idea that if some is good, more is better. Many times it's not.

Number two mistake; same with the bitters. This drink is a true cocktail. The general pre-prohibition standard for bitters in a cocktail was one dash for each ounce of total alcoholic ingredients. If you really love Peychaud's, try taking them to three dashes, or a light third dash. I've seen Sazeracs made and served so over-bittered that they tasted more like rye flavored bitters and looked like a glass of Campari. I think you will find that when you've struck the right balance of aromatics (bitters, absinthe, and lemon), that's when this drink just sings.

So let's talk lemon... again. Just like the two other aromatics, there is no need to overdo it with expressing the lemon peel. That's why you grace the rim of the glass. Think about it. The lemon oil doesn't mix into the drink. It floats on the surface and is pretty much consumed in the first two or three sips. What maintains the impression of the presence of lemon is the lingering oil on the rim of the glass. If you think you're improving things by wringing out every last droplet of oil on the drink, I'm here to tell you that all you'll accomplish is having it come off like some kind of punch for the first two or three sips, before it settles in to the complexly aromatized cocktail that is intended. With good experience and observation (and maybe even learning how to use your schnoz), you'll develop a sense for what amount of expression is desirable.

Over dilution. If you want a drink to go flat and flabby, just add too much water. Simple. The water, of course, is added when the drink is stirred or shaken. So how do you control that? Easy... cold equipment. If you're stirring in a tin and using a 90 or 100 proof rye, you might just be OK since a tin has much lower thermal mass than glass. But if you're mixing in glass, you're going to want to make sure that glass is cold so you don't melt excessive ice trying to cool the glass. The lower proof your whiskey is, the colder you will want your mix glass to be.

And finally, insufficient sweetness. I think it's no surprise that over the time the true cocktail has been in existence (about 220 years), consumer tastes have trended drier and drier. Some practitioners have begun to cater to this by adjusting certain drinks. A few weeks ago, I had a Sazerac made by one of the best barmen in my area, one who for some time now has expressed the opinion that he thinks most Sazeracs are too sweet. Now I realize this whole sweetness thing is a matter of preference and is also genetically influenced, but the Saz he put in front of me that day with just 1 barspoon (2.5 ml or 1/12 oz) of simple in it was, in my opinion, just painfully dry and austere. I'm betting that in a poll of drinkers presented with two drinks, one with a barely detectable level of sugar and one which is clearly sweetened, the sweeter will probably prevail. And that's to say nothing of the improved mouthfeel.

What It's Trying To Be

So there you have it. 1800 words to Sazerac nirvana. Oh, and what's it trying to be? Quite simply, today's Sazerec (the rye whiskey version) is an old fashioned rye whiskey cocktail, served strained and down, with three specific aromatics... Peychaud's bitters, absinthe, and lemon oil.

Simple concept, simple preparation, simply one of the best drinks in the classic canon. Enjoy!

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