how to make a sazerac

How to Make a Sazerac | A Storied Cocktail for Home Entertaining

How to Make a Sazerac | A Storied Cocktail for Home Entertaining

how to make a sazerac 

Everything You Need to Know About the Sazerac

Imagine a warm New Orleans evening, the murmur of conversation punctuated by the clinking of glasses and satisfied sighs. You, the host, unveil a steaming Sazerac, its vibrant amber hue catching the candlelight. The first sip transports your guests to the heart of the French Quarter, a taste of history and sophistication in a single glass. But here's the secret: this impressive cocktail is surprisingly easy to create at home, requiring just a few ingredients and a touch of flair. Welcome to the world of the Sazerac, a symbol of New Orleans and a delightful addition to your home entertaining repertoire.

Sazerac: The Original Recipe and the Sazerac Bar in New Orleans

The Sazerac boasts a rich and storied past, dating back to the early 1800s in New Orleans. Apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud, a man known for his herbal concoctions, is credited with creating this distinctive drink. Originally, Peychaud's Sazerac featured French brandy, sugar, and a mysterious ingredient – a fennel-licorice flavored liqueur called absinthe. This early version laid the foundation for the Sazerac we know today, but its evolution reflects the changing tides of history.

By the late 19th century, a devastating grapevine disease called phylloxera wreaked havoc on European vineyards, making French brandy scarce and expensive. Enter American rye whiskey, a bold spirit that lent a spicy kick to the Sazerac, forever altering its character. The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel, a New Orleans landmark established in 1883, embodies this rich history. Step inside and you'll be transported to a bygone era, where bartenders in white coats serve up countless iterations of this iconic cocktail.

What's the Difference Between a Sazerac and an Old Fashioned?

how to make a sazerac

While the Sazerac and the Old Fashioned share some similarities – base spirit, sugar, and bitters – key distinctions set them apart. The Old Fashioned traditionally uses bourbon, a sweeter and smoother whiskey compared to the rye whiskey typically found in a Sazerac. Perhaps the most striking difference lies in the absinthe rinse. The Sazerac's characteristic anise aroma and subtle licorice notes come from a quick swirl of absinthe in the serving glass, complementing the spiciness of the rye whiskey. This absinthe rinse adds complexity without additional sweetness, unlike the sugar cube or simple syrup used in many Old Fashioned recipes.

Should a Sazerac Use Cognac or Whiskey?

how to make a sazerac

The answer depends on your taste preference and historical accuracy! Traditionally, the Sazerac used cognac, reflecting Peychaud's original recipe. Today, rye whiskey reigns supreme, offering a robust and spicy profile that many find complements the absinthe rinse. However, cognac can still be used to create a Sazerac with a fruitier, more floral taste, harkening back to its origins. Feel free to experiment with both base spirits to discover your perfect Sazerac!

Sazerac Cocktail Recipe

how to make a sazerac

Now that you've explored the Sazerac's fascinating history, let's get mixing! Here's a classic recipe that captures the essence of this iconic cocktail:


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
  • 1.5 ounces Sazerac Rye Whiskey (or cognac, for a historical twist)
  • ¼ ounce Absinthe (high quality, preferably with low thuyone content)
  • Lemon peel, for garnish


  1. Chill the Glass: Fill an Old-Fashioned glass with ice cubes. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the glass to chill thoroughly. Discard the ice before starting the next step.
  2. Muddle the Sugar and Bitters: In the chilled glass, muddle the sugar cube with Peychaud's Bitters. Gently press the sugar cube with a muddler to release its oils and fragrances. 
  3. Add the Whiskey: Pour in the rye whiskey (or cognac, if using).
  4. Stir and Dilute: Fill the glass with fresh ice and stir for 15-20 seconds. This step chills the drink and dilutes the alcohol content slightly.
  5. The Absinthe Rinse: Strain the chilled whiskey mixture into a separate container. Pour a small amount of absinthe (about ¼ ounce) into the empty Old-Fashioned glass and swirl it (coating the entire inner surface). Discard the excess absinthe – we only want a hint of its flavor.
  6. Strain and Garnish: Strain the chilled whiskey mixture from step 4 back into the absinthe-coated glass. Express the oils from a lemon peel twist over the drink and then add the peel as a garnish.

Nutritional Info (per serving):

While the Sazerac offers a delightful taste experience, it's important to be mindful of its sugar content. Here's a rough estimate of the drink's nutritional breakdown:

  • Calories: 180-220 (depending on the sugar content of your simple syrup and the type of grapes used)
  • Sugar: 15-20 grams (primarily from the simple syrup and the natural sugars in the grapes)

Please note: This is just an approximation, and the actual nutritional value can vary depending on the specific ingredients and brands you use. Enjoy this drink responsibly and consider pairing it with lighter snacks to balance the sweetness.

Beyond the Recipe: Mastering the Art of Home Bartending

Crafting delicious cocktails at home is a rewarding experience that allows you to impress your guests and elevate your home entertaining game. However, navigating the world of mixology can seem daunting at first. This is where Barprints' Mixology Mastery: Online Bartending Course can be a valuable resource.

how to make a sazerac

Designed for aspiring home bartenders, this program equips you with the knowledge and techniques to create classic cocktails with confidence, explore new flavor combinations, and craft signature drinks that will leave your guests speechless. Mixology Mastery goes beyond recipes, providing in-depth lessons on essential bartending tools, proper shaking and stirring techniques, spirit selection, and the fascinating history behind classic cocktails.

Imagine creating your own unique twist on the Sazerac, perhaps using a Peychaud's bitters float for an extra anise kick, or experimenting with different types of rye whiskey to discover your perfect flavor profile. With the skills and knowledge gained from a program like Mixology Mastery, you can transform your home bar into a place of creativity and experimentation, ensuring your next gathering is an unforgettable experience.


The Sazerac isn't just a cocktail; it's a journey through history, culture, and flavor. With its rich heritage and versatile base spirit, the Sazerac offers endless possibilities for exploration. So, ditch the crowded bars and expensive drinks. With a little practice and the right ingredients, you can create a taste of New Orleans right in your living room. Now, gather your friends and family, raise a glass of your homemade Sazerac, and let the conversation flow! What unique twist will you put on this classic cocktail?

how to make a sazerac