Sipping on History: The Sazerac Cocktail
Written by Emma C | Updated May 2023
The Sazerac, a close kin to the esteemed Old Fashioned, is a classic cocktail traditionally crafted with rye whiskey or brandy, complemented by bitters, sugar, and a hint of absinthe. This exquisite libation has a historical legacy that dates back to as early as 1838, with the cocktail itself becoming officially trademarked by the Sazerac Company in 1900. In 2008, the Sazerac cocktail was bestowed the prestigious title of New Orleans' official cocktail. However, the truth is that the Sazerac has always belonged to the heart of the Crescent City, where it found its true home. Check out our Taster’s Club Sazerac recipe along with the best rye whiskey from our bottle shop for the perfect cocktail.
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- 1 sugar cube
- 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
- Absinthe (or Herbsaint) rinse
- Lemon peel (for garnish)
- Start by chilling an Old Fashioned glass by filling it with ice and setting it aside.
- In a separate mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube with a few drops of water until it dissolves.
- Add the rye whiskey and Peychaud's Bitters to the mixing glass with the sugar mixture.
- Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir well until the drink is properly chilled.
- Empty the ice from the chilled Old Fashioned glass and rinse it with a small amount of absinthe, coating the inside of the glass. Discard any excess absinthe.
- Strain the chilled whiskey mixture from the mixing glass into the absinthe-rinsed glass.
- Garnish the cocktail by expressing the oils from a lemon peel over the drink, and optionally, rub the peel on the rim of the glass.
- Enjoy your classic Sazerac cocktail!
Taster’s Club Bottle Recommendations for the Sazerac Cocktail
Laws Whiskey House San Luis Valley Straight Rye
8,000 feet above sea level, in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, the Cody family has been cultivating this low-yield, semi-wild rye grain since the 1930s. They fell in love with how it ferments and distills into a terroir-driven, unapologetic whiskey.
Region: Colorado | Tasting Notes: Molasses, Peppercorn, Caramel, Fruit | ABV: 50%
Templeton Rye 10 Year
Templeton Rye 10 Year Reserve is a single-barrel whiskey, aged 10 years in charred new American oak barrels. Flavors include dark oak with honeyed floral notes and the distillery’s signature rye spice.
Region: Iowa | Tasting Notes: Honey, Brown Sugar, Mint | ABV: 52%
Barrell Craft Spirits Seagrass Rye
Seagrass highlights the grassy oceanside notes of Barrell Craft Spirits’ rye and the opulence and spice of finishing barrels. It’s a blend of American and Canadian rye whiskeys, with each ingredient meticulously sourced and finished separately in Martinique rhum, Madeira, and apricot brandy barrels.
Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Fruit, Vanilla, Molasses, Apricot Brandy | ABV: 59.11%
Michter’s Straight Rye
Michter’s is renowned for rye and takes the production of its US*1 Kentucky Straight Rye extremely seriously. The spirit is made from select American rye grain, sheared to maximize the extraction of flavor. On the nose, you’ll get aromas of cherry, green apple, caramel, spice, and oak. You’ll taste similar flavors, along with cinnamon, baking, and citrus, followed by a slow, dry finish.
Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Fruit, Caramel, Spice, Oak | ABV: 42.4%
Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
This 100-proof rye from Knob Creek was named the World’s Best Rye at the 2016 World Spirits Competition. It pairs traditional rye spice with the brand’s signature sweetness. With a high corn mash bill, this one’s perfect if you love bourbon but are looking to add rye to your home bar.
Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Fruit, Caramel, Spice, Oak | ABV: 50%
WhistlePig Boss Hog
Siren’s Song is a twice-finished, well-aged rye that slumbered in casks seasoned with Greek fig nectar and barrels suffused with homemade tentura liqueur, made with ingredients hailing from Greece and local Shoreham, Vermont fields. It arrives in the glass with scents of cinnamon and citrus zest. The palate finds notes of clove, cardamom, and stewed orchard fruit, retreating upon rippled waves of raisin and prune. This rare and outstandingly complex whiskey is barrel strength, bottled between 102.3 and 106.2 proof.
Region: Vermont | Tasting Notes: Clove, Cardamom, Stewed Fruit, Raisin | ABV: 51.15 to 53.1%
Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye
Crafted in one of the few distilleries to remain dedicated to the art of rye whiskey, Rare Breed Rye is a blend of non-chill filtered rye. It’s barrel-proof, meaning that it’s uncut – bottled directly from the barrels at the proof it reaches in those barrels. It’s sister to award-winning Rare Breed Bourbon and the first permanent super-premium rye in the Wild Turkey family.
Region: Kentucky | Tasting Notes: Herbal, Lemon, Mint, Licorice, Nut, Spice | ABV: 56.1%
High West Double Rye!
Thanks to its balance of cinnamon, anise, and honey, High West Double Rye! stands on its own in cocktails, but is great served neat, with a little water, or on the rocks. A blend of two different rye whiskeys, this one is also crafted to be twice as spicy as the average rye whiskey. The older rye adds a richer, bolder character and just enough caramel sweetness and woody vanilla richness to calm the bite of the younger rye.
Region: Utah | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Oak, Honey, Cinnamon, Floral, Spice | ABV: 46%
With a rye content of 95%, well past the 51% required, Redemption’s rye is beautifully balanced, with a warm, medium-light body. You’ll get aromas of vanilla, toffee, dill, oak, citrus, and herbal spice, along with similar flavors and a lovely sweetness, followed by a long, soft finish.
Region: Indiana | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Toffee, Oak, Dill, Citrus, Herbal Spice | ABV: 46%
Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye
Alberta Premium released its Cask Strength Rye to innovate within the Canadian whisky category. With a deep history rooted in heritage and quality, Alberta Premium is proud to be a major player in the resurgence of Canadian whiskies and Alberta Premium Cask Strength is the award-winning result. This expression offers aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, green tea, and baking spice, followed by a palate of lemon zest, rye spice, berries, and honey with a touch of vanilla and brown sugar.
Region: Canada | Tasting Notes: Lemon Zest, Spice, Berry, Honey | ABV: 66%
The Sazerac cocktail is a classic drink that's been enjoyed for over a century. It's a testament to the rich history of cocktail culture in New Orleans and a must-try for any whiskey lover. When making a Sazerac, it's important to use high-quality ingredients, including a good rye whiskey and a quality absinthe. These recommended bottles are a great place to start when making your own Sazerac at home.
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