Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Day 103 Drink: The Sazerac
The Sazerac is a classic New Orleans cocktail. Since I've been in town for a couple of days I had to give one of these a try.
The Sazerac is said to be the creation of Antoine Amadie Peychaud, a Creole shopkeeper and drugist working in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Originally the drink was made with French brandy and it was popular in the coffee houses around town. Sewell Taylor ran the Merchants Exchange Coffee House and he also was importing a Cognac called Sazerac-du-Forge et fils into the U.S. He clearly understood branding because he changed the name of the establishment to the Sazerac Coffee House and made Paychaud's recipe the signature drink of the place.
Around 1870, rye whiskey became the spirit used in the Sazerac. The change was made to reflect the growing popularity of whiskey in the U.S. and the difficulty and cost of obtaining Cognac. The Sazerac Bar became a fixture at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1949, where it still operates today, but any good bartender around New Orleans can make you a Sazerac.
The bartenders at the Le Gallery Lounge in the Le Pavillon Hotel make a fine version of this drink. They coat a chilled cocktail glass with Herbsaint. They then combine two types of bitters -- Angostura and Peychaud's -- with simple syrup and Sazerac Rye Whiskey in a cocktail shaker with ice. They shake the drink and strain it into the glass and garnish it with a lemon twist. The drink is deceptively smooth. The bitters mellow out the rye and make the drink a complex set of flavors. It will change a bit as it warms in your glass. Perfect for the start or end of an evening.