The Sazerac - America's first cocktail

Exploring the Sazerac - America’s First Cocktail

History & Knowledge

Feb 23, 2024

In the realm of cocktail history, few libations boast the rich and storied heritage of the Sazerac. Often heralded as the first American cocktail, the Sazerac is not merely a drink but a testament to the vibrant culture and intricate tapestry of New Orleans. Join us as we embark on a journey through time and flavor, unraveling the captivating tale behind this iconic concoction.

The Sazerac - America's first cocktail

Exploring the Sazerac - America’s First Cocktail

History & Knowledge

Feb 23, 2024

In the realm of cocktail history, few libations boast the rich and storied heritage of the Sazerac. Often heralded as the first American cocktail, the Sazerac is not merely a drink but a testament to the vibrant culture and intricate tapestry of New Orleans. Join us as we embark on a journey through time and flavor, unraveling the captivating tale behind this iconic concoction.

The Sazerac - America's first cocktail

Exploring the Sazerac - America’s First Cocktail

History & Knowledge

Feb 23, 2024

Romanos Boraine - Co-founder of Craft Cask

In the realm of cocktail history, few libations boast the rich and storied heritage of the Sazerac. Often heralded as the first American cocktail, the Sazerac is not merely a drink but a testament to the vibrant culture and intricate tapestry of New Orleans. Join us as we embark on a journey through time and flavor, unraveling the captivating tale behind this iconic concoction.

The Sazerac is a timeless cocktail that is both elegant and complex. It is a true testament to the city of New Orleans and its rich history.

Jeff Berry, author of "The Cocktail Whisperer"

Crafting the Sazerac: a New Orleans Cocktail

Step back in time to the bustling streets of the French Quarter, where saloons disguised as coffee houses lined the cobblestone streets. It was amidst this vibrant backdrop that the Sazerac cocktail was first crafted, blending the bold flavors of Rye Whiskey with the subtle nuances of absinthe and bitters. As patrons savored each sip of this exquisite libation, the legend of the Sazerac grew, captivating the hearts and palates of cocktail enthusiasts around the world.


The Original Recipe: Sazerac ingredients and mixing instructions

The original Sazerac cocktail has few ingredients and is simple to make. It is predominantly rye whiskey, infused with sweet herbal and citrus favors. The recipe is as follows:


Sazerac Ingredients:

  • 1 sugar cube

  • 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

  • 2 ounces Sazerac Rye Whiskey

  • Absinthe

  • Lemon peel (for garnish)


Sazerac Mixing Instructions:

  1. Begin by chilling an Old-Fashioned glass by placing it in the freezer or filling it with ice water.

  2. In a separate Old-Fashioned glass, place the sugar cube.

  3. Add 3 dashes of Peychaud's Bitters onto the sugar cube.

  4. Muddle the sugar cube with the Peychaud's Bitters until it is dissolved.

  5. Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey to the glass with the muddled sugar and bitters.

  6. Fill the chilled Old-Fashioned glass with ice and a small amount of absinthe.

  7. Stir the contents of the other glass with the whiskey, sugar, and bitters until well mixed.

  8. Discard the ice and absinthe from the chilled glass, leaving only a coating of absinthe.

  9. Strain the whiskey mixture into the chilled glass.

  10. Express the oil from a lemon peel over the drink by twisting it over the glass, then garnish the drink with the twist.


Sazerac Flavors: A Journey of the Senses

What does a Sazerac taste like, you ask? It's a symphony of flavors, with notes of whiskey mingling harmoniously with hints of sweetness and a whisper of herbal bitterness. As the rich aroma envelops your senses and the velvety texture caresses your palate, you'll be transported to a bygone era, where every sip tells a story of tradition and craftsmanship.

To truly savor the essence of the Sazerac, it must be served with reverence and respect. Neat and unadorned, in a rocks glass large enough to allow the flavors to breathe and mingle. As you raise your glass in a toast to tradition, you'll join the ranks of countless patrons who have come before, honoring the legacy of the first American cocktail.


The Sazerac Rye: A Classic American Whiskey

At the heart of the Sazerac lies its quintessential ingredient - Sazerac Rye. Crafted with meticulous care and steeped in history, this whiskey symbolizes the essence of the Big Easy. This American whiskey dates back to the 1800s, and found its home in the bustling streets of New Orleans, where it was expertly blended with Peychaud’s Bitters to create the iconic Sazerac cocktail. It was here, at the legendary Sazerac Coffee House on Royal Street, that this timeless libation was born, marking the dawn of a new era in cocktail culture.

Currently, Sazerac Rye is produced and bottled at the Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky, USA. A small portion of Sazerac is still bottled in New Orleans.


A Glimpse into History: The Sazerac Company

Founded in 1869 by the visionary Thomas H. Handy, the Sazerac Company traces its roots back to the iconic Sazerac Coffee House. What began as a humble bar and importer of cognac soon blossomed into a renowned spirits company, shaping the landscape of the American whiskey industry. With each passing year, the Sazerac Company continued to evolve, acquiring new brands and expanding its portfolio, all while preserving the legacy of the original Sazerac cocktail.


The Sazerac is more than just a drink - it's a symbol of history, culture, and tradition. From its humble beginnings at the Sazerac Coffee House to its enduring legacy as an icon of American cocktail culture, the Sazerac continues to captivate and inspire, reminding us of the timeless allure of a well-crafted libation. So, the next time you raise a glass to celebrate life's moments, consider honoring the legend of the Sazerac - a true testament to the artistry of the cocktail craft. Cheers!

sazerac cocktail in bar
sazerac cocktail in bar

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Join the craft cask whiskey community!

Become a member of our whiskey community for free to get access to an exclusive range of curated content - from reviews of top drams, to unique whiskey tasting experiences, and insights into the latest industry trends—our mailing list content is a valuable source for whiskey enthusiasts looking to stay in tune with the world of whiskey. 

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