Take Your Sazerac Cocktail To The Next Level With One Fruity Liqueur

Few cocktails are more iconic than the Sazerac. It has been around since the mid-1800s, and was declared the official tipple of New Orleans in 2008. The recipe for a classic Sazerac calls for absinthe, rye whiskey, Peychaud's bitters, and sugar. The resulting taste is akin to that of an old fashioned, another classic drink with rye or bourbon whiskey, bitters (Angostura in this case), and sugar (demerara syrup). However, the Sazerac has an extra special zing, thanks in no small part to its absinthe rinse.

Flavor-wise, absinthe has a licorice-like character due to its herbal makeup of wormwood, fennel, and anise. Strong in both flavor and alcohol (45-74% ABV), absinthe works best in a Sazerac as just a rinse: You swish the absinthe around in the glass and toss it, leaving just its flavor. Its spicy, herbal, earthy notes play well with the spice, woodiness, floral and earthy notes, and sweetness of the Sazerac's other ingredients.

One could argue you don't mess with classics, but making ingredient swaps, additions, and upgrades is how mixology has evolved over decades and given us delicious drinks. One irresistible way to update the Sazerac is with a fruity kick from banana liqueur. The liqueur has a silky, slightly fuller mouthfeel that enhances the chilled sweetness of the Sazerac. Banana, meanwhile, balances sweetness with subtle tartness, an earthy whisper of bitterness, and a rounded, creamy finish. It instantly takes the Sazerac to a tropical place, complex yet refreshing and just a little fruity.

How to upgrade your Sazerac with banana liqueur

This Sazerac-gone-bananas is called the Bananarac, and is the creation of celebrity bartender Natasha David. There's a variation on the Sazerac that incorporates brandy rather than rye whiskey, but David opts for both, which only further enhances the Bananarac's complexity, since it combines rye's spice and brandy's warm fruit pie quality.

The Bananarac calls for an absinthe rinse, one ounce of rye whiskey, one ounce of Armagnac (similar to the French brandy Cognac), a ½ ounce of banana liqueur, a ½ teaspoon of demerara simple syrup, a dash of aromatic bitters, and a lemon twist for garnish. For the banana element, the Bananarac does specifically list Giffard Banane du Brésil liqueur, which has a rich finish. You can use any banana liqueur, really, though — it helps to have tried whatever brand you're working with first, so you know it has real banana flavors rather than possibly bringing fake, candy-like cloyingness to your new-and-improved Sazerac.

Classics are such for a reason, but home bartending is all about having some fun with your favorites and finding opportunities for new flavors. Something like the banana Sazerac can really wow guests, presenting them with the flavors they expect from a Sazerac but with this tart, sweet, fruity taste that stands out on its own while also highlighting the rest of the drink's spicy, woody, herbal characteristics. Next time you're looking to upgrade a staple cocktail, think about complementary fruit liqueurs that can kick flavors up a notch.