Home Cocktails Classic Sazerac Cocktail Recipe

Classic Sazerac Cocktail Recipe

Get a taste of New Orleans in every sip with a classic Sazerac cocktail.

As one of the oldest cocktails in America, it’s certainly one to know. It’s a spirit-forward drink that’s refined, well-balanced, and full of history.

Close up shot of a glass of Sazerac Cocktail garnished with lemon peel
WANT TO SAVE THIS RECIPE?
Enter your email below & we'll send it straight to your inbox.

The Sazerac cocktail has been a Southern favorite since the 1800s. In 2008, it actually became the official cocktail of New Orleans.

If you’re an old-fashioned fan, just wait until you try it. Warming, robust, aromatic, spiced, and slightly sweet, it’s one complex drink.

So pay homage to New Orleans and classic cocktails everywhere with a Sazerac.

Sazerac Ingredients

Every component of this drink creates a well-balanced libation. They’re a little specific, but it’s a New Orleans favorite for a reason!

So here’s a list of what you need:

  • Absinthe. An anise-flavored spirit full of botanicals like wormwood and fennel. Many thought it contained hallucinogenic properties. So absinthe became banned in many countries for quite some time. It’s now legal in the U.S., so look for it at a well-stocked liquor store.
  • Sugar cube. You need a sweet ingredient to balance all the flavors. A sugar cube is traditional. Although, simple syrup works, too.
  • Peychaud’s Bitters. A signature ingredient for a classic Sazerac. It’s sweeter than Angostura bitters with notes of anise. If you’re a purist, don’t skip it.
  • Rye whiskey. The original version called for Cognac. But rye whiskey soon became common. Buillet and Woodford Reserve are two brands I recommend. Or try Sazerac Rye Whiskey by Buffalo Trace if you can find it.
  • Ice. For chilling the drink when mixing.
  • Lemon twist. A classic garnish for this classy libation. Give the lemon a good squeeze over the drink to release the oils. Then add it.
Two glasses of Sazerac Cocktail, a stirrer, lemon and mixing glass on a wooden table

More About Absinthe

History buffs and cocktail lovers alike find the story of absinthe rather intriguing. Dubbed “The Green Fairy,” this spirit once had a reputation for being hallucinogenic.

Many claimed it made people crazy and caused them to commit violent crimes. The temperance movement folks may have been the ones behind such claims.

Regardless, absinthe became banned in 1912. You couldn’t find it in the U.S. or Europe for about 100 years. It wasn’t until 2007 that they lifted the ban.

That’s quite a long time to make a Sazerac without it! So what did folks do? They used Herbsaint as a replacement.

Luckily, researchers proved this anise-flavored spirit isn’t hallucinogenic. So you can enjoy a Sazerac the original way.

How to Make a Classic Sazerac

The preparation is just as important as the ingredients. Don’t worry, though, it’s easy.

Here are the steps:

  1. Prep the glass. In a chilled old-fashioned glass, pour a small amount of absinthe. Swirl to coat the inside of the glass, then discard the excess. Set it aside.
  1. Muddle the sugar. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube with Peychaud’s Bitters until dissolved.
  1. Pour and chill. Pour the rye whiskey into the mixing glass with the muddled mixture. Fill it with ice and stir well until chilled, about 15-20 seconds.
  1. Strain. Strain the mixture into the prepared old-fashioned glass.
  1. Garnish and serve. Gently squeeze the lemon peel skin side down over the drink to express the oils. Drop it into the glass, then serve.
Sazerac Cocktail on an old fashioned glass on a wooden table garnished with lemon peel

Tips and Tricks

The Sazerac isn’t your run-of-the-mill cocktail. Preparing it is a bit of a ritual.

WANT TO SAVE THIS RECIPE?
Enter your email below & we'll send it straight to your inbox.

If you want to make it top-notch follow these tips and tricks:

  • Squeeze the lemon. Be sure to “express” the lemon twist by squeezing it peel-side down over the drink. This releases the essential oils, adding to the drink’s aroma and flavor.
  • Always stir, never shake. Some purists will tell you to stir the drink instead of using a cocktail shaker. For a classic Sazerac, just use a long spoon.
  • Don’t serve it with ice. The ice is merely for chilling, not serving. You want all the flavor without watering down the drink.
  • Do coat the glass with absinthe. Coating the glass with absinthe is a classic touch. All the botanicals will enhance the aroma.

Recipe Variations

Here are some other variations you should try:

  • Absinthe alternatives. If absinthe is unavailable, use Herbsaint or Pernod as a substitute. These anise-flavored spirits will impart a similar aromatic quality to the drink.
  • Sugar cube replacement. A sugar cube is traditional. But you can also use simple syrup for a quicker dissolve.
  • Use both Cognac and rye whiskey. The first Sazerac had Cognac. You can mix things up by blending equal parts of rye whiskey and Cognac.
  • Spike it with bourbon. There was a time when bourbon was a rye alternative in the official recipe. If you’re feeling adventurous, give bourbon a shot.
Two glasses of Sazerac Cocktail garnished with lemon peel on a wooden table

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

There are many similarities between an old-fashioned and a Sazerac. And yet, there are some distinct differences.

An old-fashioned is a bourbon-based cocktail with Angostura bitters, a sugar cube, and an orange peel.

Rye whiskey is also common in place of the bourbon.

A Sazerac is a rye whiskey-based cocktail. It also has absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters, a sugar cube, and a lemon peel.

So you can see how these two are very close. If you like one, odds are, you’ll like the other.

Classic Sazerac Cocktail Recipe

Servings

1

serving

The Sazerac cocktail is a classic New Orleans drink! Made with absinthe, sugar, bitters, and whiskey, it’ll give you a great buzz.

Ingredients

  • Absinthe, to rinse

  • 1 sugar cube

  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey

  • Ice

  • Lemon peel/twist, for garnish

Instructions

  • Pour a small amount of absinthe into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Swirl to coat the inside of the glass, then discard the excess.
  • In a separate mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube with Peychaud’s Bitters until dissolved.
  • Pour the rye whiskey into the mixing glass. Fill it with ice and stir well until chilled, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture into the prepared old-fashioned glass.
  • Gently squeeze the lemon peel skin side down over the drink to express the oils, then drop it into the glass.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Sazerac Cocktail

Did you like the recipe?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Thanks!

Share on social media:

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

Leave a Comment