The Sazerac

A piece of patriotism in your glass

In honor of July 4, a celebration of patriotism, freedom, and a general sense of looking back and seeing "where it all began," it seemed appropriate to write about something that is a true representation of seeing where it all began in the world of the cocktail.

The Sazerac is what is known as the first "original" cocktail, and rightfully so. As the story goes, in 1838 an apothecary owner in New Orleans by the name of Antoine Amedie Peychaud had a habit of making brandy toddies for his friends using his homemade "Peychaud’s Bitters," made from a secret recipe. The toddies were made using a coquetier, which is a double-ended egg cup being used as a jigger. Coincidentally, this is where the word "cocktail" was derived from! So, the first cocktail came to be.

By 1850, the Sazerac cocktail was being made with Sazerac brandy and Peychaud’s Bitters and was incredibly popular. After becoming the first "branded" cocktail, the recipe was slightly altered in 1873 to replace the French brandy with an American rye Whiskey. A splash of absinthe was also added. In 1933, the cocktail was bottled and marketed by the Sazerac Company in New Orleans, and soon after, a new absinthe known as Herbsaint was used as the official absinthe in the Sazerac cocktail. Most recently in 2000, the recipe was altered once again to specify using Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey in the making of an official Sazerac.

While other nations were drinking for hundreds of centuries before the Sazerac came to be, the United States of America can take great pride in knowing that the first official cocktail came from our native land, specifically New Orleans. From the Sazerac a multitude of classic cocktails were born, and any bartender worth his weight in whiskey should know how to make a perfect Sazerac behind the bar. Isn’t that what July 4 is all about? Pride in our country? What better way to celebrate country pride than with an all-American cocktail?

Below you’ll find the recipe for the official Sazerac cocktail, as provided by The Sazerac Company. I hope you feel the American spirit behind it and take pride in knowing that you are drinking a piece of history!

Click here for the Sazerac recipe.

— Sara Kay, The Spir.it