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The Sazerac Three Ways
  • photo-ph-meet
    Greg Best
    Holeman and Finch Public House

    Originally from New York, Greg has been oft credited with kick-starting the craft cocktail scene in Atlanta with his work at Restaurant Eugene. He is currently one of the proprietors/barkeeps at Atlanta’s Holeman and Finch Public House. Greg began his life behind the bar over a decade ago, at Delmonico Steakhouse in Las Vegas. Although Greg is a certified sommelier, he continues to focus on spirits, and writes a cocktail column for Atlanta’s Creative Loafing newspaper.

classic recipe image

Sazerac (Original and Thomas Handy Evolution)

A New Orleans classic, the original Sazerac emerged from a bar called the Sazerac House, using an imported cognac called Sazerac de Forge et Fils, and bitters from a local pharmacist, Antoine Peychaud. Years later, when phylloxera destroyed many of the vineyards in Europe, Cognac became scarce. So one Thomas Handy, who had inherited the Sazerac House, started making the drink with local rye instead. The second recipe is now the more familiar version of the drink.

SKILL LEVEL Beginner

YIELD 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS

For the original

  • Crushed ice
  • 2 ounce Cognac
  • 1 cube granulated sugar
  • 2 to 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 dash absinthe
  • Lemon twist 

For the Thomas Handy

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 barspoon Herbsaint
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1 cube sugar
  • 4 to 6 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon twist

DIRECTIONS

For the original

1. Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice. In a mixing glass, combine the Cognac, sugar, 1 barspoon water and bitters; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add ice cubes and stir until chilled. Discard the crushed ice from the rocks glass and add standard ice cubes. Strain the contents of the mixing glass into the chilled rocks glass. Top with the absinthe, garnish with the lemon twist and serve.

For the Thomas Handy

1. Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice. Add the Herbsaint and roll the glass to coat.

2. In a mixing glass, combine the rye, sugar, 1 barspoon water and bitters. Fill the glass with ice cubes and stir until chilled. Discard the crushed ice and Herbsaint from the rocks glass. Strain the contents of the mixing glass into the chilled rocks glass, garnish with the lemon twist and serve.

twist recipe image

Sazerac (Updated)

Even the slightest deviation from the classic Sazerac recipe changes the drink significantly. To wit: the addition of Angostura bitters, which help balance the overproof rye called for in this cocktail.

SKILL LEVEL Intermediate

YIELD 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 barspoon Swiss Absinthe
  • 2 ounces 100-proof rye whiskey
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
  • 6 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • One 2-inch strip lemon peel

DIRECTIONS

1. Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice. Add the absinthe and roll the glass to coat.

2. In a mixing glass, combine the rye, simple syrup and the Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters. Fill the glass with ice cubes and stir to chill. Discard the crushed ice and absinthe from the rocks glass. Strain the contents of the mixing glass into the rocks glass and use a lighter to flame the lemon peel directly over the surface of the drink. Discard the lemon and serve.

gonzo recipe image

Rhythm and Soul

This adaptation is somewhere between a Sazerac and a Manhattan, in which an amaro and vermouth add newfound complexity.

SKILL LEVEL Advanced

YIELD 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 bar spoon French Absinthe
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • ½ ounce Averna
  • ½ ounce Carpano Antica Formula
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • One 2-inch strip lemon peel

DIRECTIONS

1. Fill a rocks glass with crushed ice. Add the absinthe and roll the glass to coat.

2. In a mixing glass, combine the rye, Averna, Carpano Antica Formula and the bitters and fill with ice cubes. Discard the crushed ice and absinthe from the rocks glass. Strain the contents of the mixing glass into the chilled rocks glass. Twist the lemon peel directly over the drink to release its oils. Discard the lemon peel and serve.