Now the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans (by countless accounts the birthplace of the cocktail), some say the Sazerac was the very first such spirited concoction. The story goes that apothecary Antoine Peychaud made an elixir of brandy, a spoonful of sugar (helps the medicine go down?) and his proprietary aromatic bitters in his French Quarter shop in the 1830s. The drink became popular in New Orleans bars, and a few decades later the restaurateur Thomas Handy switched the liquor from brandy to rye whiskey. At some point a bit of absinthe was added, and the recipe reached its pinnacle.
Chill an old fashioned glass, then coat the inside with absinthe* (rinse out the excess).
*The green fairy is legal again in the United States, but if you can’t get your hands on any, you could substitute with a pastis such as Pernod. Note that pastis is sweeter, so you’ll probably want to use less sugar.
In a mixing vessel, combine:
a sugar cube & a splash of water OR 1/4 oz simple syrup
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters*
*Thanks to Jeffrey Morgenthaler for this suggestion – it may anger the purists, but it gives the drink a bit more flavor and body, so they can just hush.
Muddle til the sugar is dissolved (skip this step if using simple syrup).
Add several ice cubes and 2 oz. rye whiskey, such as Old Overholt.
Stir – don’t shake – til well chilled, then strain into the glass.
Squeeze a lemon twist over the glass to release the oils, then discard, or be saucy and drop it into the drink.