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For the New Orleans’ take on a classic whiskey cocktail, try a Sazerac. It’s made with rye whiskey, simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters, and a swirl of absinthe.

A Sazerac cocktail in a lowball glass.

A Sazerac is strong, sour, and sweet all at once, and totally delicious.

Some say it’s the first original American cocktail, but we will probably never know for sure. What we do know is, the Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orlean’s, and they have the law on the books to prove it.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Sazerac Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Sazerac cocktail ingredients.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Absinthe: A highly-alcoholic anise-flavored spirit. Or, substitute Pernod, pastis, or Herbsaint.
  • Whiskey: For the most authentic cocktail, choose Sazerac brand rye whiskey. Or, substitute Cognac (preferably Sazerac brand) or another brandy.
  • Simple syrup: To make it yourself, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved (do not boil). Remove from heat and cool before adding 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) to your cocktail shaker with the other ingredients. Store leftover simple syrup covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
  • Bitters: Seek out Peychaud’s bitters (a Sazerac brand) if possible. Angostura brand have a heavier flavor but will also work.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a chilled Old Fashioned glass, coat the inside of the glass by swirling with absinthe (discard any excess). Set aside.
Swirling a glass with absinthe.
  1. To a mixing glass, add rye whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters. Fill mixing glass three-quarters of the way full with ice. Using a bar spoon, stir until mixture is fully combined and well chilled, about 30 seconds.
Mixing a Sazerac in a mixing glass.
  1. Strain into prepared glass. Pinch the lemon peel over the drink, rub the rim of the glass with the peel, and garnish with a lemon peel.
Mixing a Sazerac in a lowball glass.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 1 cocktail.
  • Glassware: The Sazerac is traditionally made in an Old Fashioned glass, a 6-ounce to 10-ounce glass tumbler. Similar to a rocks glass or lowball glass, the Old Fashioned glass is decorated in the cut glass style.
  • Big batch: Sazeracs are best prepared one cocktail at a time.
  • Zazarack: Made with bourbon instead of rye whiskey (bourbon is sweeter in flavor and its mash must be made from at least 51% corn).
A Sazerac cocktail in a lowball glass.

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A Sazerac in a clear glass on a counter.

Sazerac

For the New Orleans' take on a classic whiskey cocktail, try a Sazerac. It's made with rye whiskey, simple syrup, Peychaud's bitters, and a swirl of absinthe.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 mins
Total Time 2 mins
Servings 1 cocktail
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Calories 170

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 teaspoon absinthe (see note 1)
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey (¼ cup, see note 2)
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup (see note 3)
  • 1/8 teaspoon Peychaud's bitters (see note 4)
  • 1 2-3 inch piece lemon peel strip, for garnish

Instructions 

  • In a chilled Old Fashioned glass, coat the inside of the glass by swirling with absinthe (discard any excess). Set aside.
  • To a mixing glass, add rye whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters. Fill mixing glass three-quarters of the way full with ice. Using a bar spoon, stir until mixture is fully combined and well chilled, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain into prepared glass. Pinch the lemon peel over the drink, rub the rim of the glass with the peel, and garnish with a lemon peel.

Notes

  1. Absinthe: A highly-alcoholic anise-flavored spirit.
  2. Whiskey: For the most authentic cocktail, choose Sazerac brand rye whiskey. Or, substitute Cognac (preferably Sazerac brand) or another brandy.
  3. Simple syrup: To make it yourself, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved (do not boil). Remove from heat and cool before adding 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) to your cocktail shaker with the other ingredients. Store leftover simple syrup covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
  4. Bitters: Seek out Peychaud’s bitters (a Sazerac brand) if possible. Angostura brand have a heavier flavor but will also work.
  5. Yield: This recipe makes 1 cocktail.
  6. Glassware: The Sazerac is traditionally made in an Old Fashioned glass, a 6-ounce to 10-ounce glass tumbler. Similar to a rocks glass or lowball glass, the Old Fashioned glass is decorated in the cut glass style.
  7. Big batch: Sazeracs are best prepared one cocktail at a time.
  8. Zazarack: Made with bourbon instead of rye whiskey (bourbon is sweeter in flavor and its mash must be made from at least 51% corn).

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktailCalories: 170kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 1gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 7mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 2mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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