This time last year I was soaking up some sunshine at the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans – the largest free music event in the United States. New Orleans is by far one of my favorite places to vacation in the U.S. I just love walking the narrow streets at dusk with the flickering gas lights and live music pouring out of every door and window. It feels as if I have time traveled back to the mid-1800’s, minus the plastic beads. In celebration of days and good times gone by, the drink I bring to you this week is sometimes referred to as the oldest American cocktail and a New Orleans legend – the Sazerac.
The Sazerac is said to be invented by an apothecary named Antoine Amedee Peychaud in New Orleans in the 1830s as a remedy for a variety of his customers’ ailments. There are about as many stories about who invented the Sazerac as there are ways to make one. There has also been plenty of debate about whether or not the Sazerac was America’s first ever cocktail. I say, who cares, drink up.
1 cube sugar
1½ oz rye whiskey
¼ oz absinthe (or anise liqueur)
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters (or Angostura bitters)
1. Pour absinthe into an Old-Fashioned glass or rocks glass, and swirl it around until the bottom and the sides of the glass are coated. Pour out absinthe (preferably into your mouth.)
2. Muddle a sugar cube with just a few drops of water
2. Add ice, then rye whiskey* and the bitters. Stir** until the outside of the glass is cold. Garnish with a lemon peel and enjoy.
*Try to get the good stuff, if you can find it.
**Do not shake this drink, unless you always wanted to know what a toxic cloud of alcoholic foam to the face feels and tastes like.