Here’s a drink to reach for, the official cocktail from New Orleans: the Sazerac. With its ample bitters and sepia spirit, the drink is earthy and deep yet subtly sweet. While it’s served in an ice-cold glass, the unusually warm quality of rye whiskey gives me those fireside holiday vibes. It was made with absinthe until it was outlawed in 1912, when the drink officially adopted Herbsaint in its place.
Now, you may have heard the name thrown around, but the mystery of what exactly it consists of is just as cryptic as its history. The drink itself was created by Antoine Peychaud, a Creole immigrant from Haiti who ran a pharmacy in the French Quarter in New Orleans. The key to the Sazerac is Peychaud’s Bitters which are sold by the Sazerac Company, the second-largest American spirits corporation. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Mr. Peychaud or his family ever received a nickel from the popularity of his cocktail or his bitters, but unfortunately, that does seem consistent with the civil rights, or lack thereof, in the early 1800’s. I digress.
So let’s get started, shall we? First, coat the inside of that ice-cold, crystal clear glass you’ve got with a tablespoon of Herbsaint. Now let’s get fancy. Unearth that cocktail shaker you never use. Toss in the rye, simple syrup, and Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters, and ice. Cover the shaker and shake it like your life depends on it. Strain the concoction into your glass. If you’re trying to hit it out of the park (you always are) get your lemon twist and rub it on the rim of the glass and chuck it in. Now take a second to marvel at the piece of history you’re serving and then immediately cheers to whatever is happenin’.
This holiday season, honor those people of color who have contributed so much to American history, but perhaps have never really been recognized. When any people’s history have been written by their oppressors, most of the narrative gems are undoubtedly left out. So, please relish in this sumptuous cocktail, make it for your loved ones, and tell them about the apothecary on Royal Street, Mr. Antoine Peychaud. – Karina Chahal
- 1 tablespoon Herbsaint
- 1.5 ounces rye whiskey
- ½ teaspoon simple syrup
- 4 to 5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 lemon twist
Recipe courtesy of Ti Brennan by way of Ms. Jean Jenner of Houston, Texas