The Sumptous Sazerac

Until now, Brian’s role in this blog has been limited to, well, eating all the food in the pictures. He’s performed this vital job so well and with such enthusiasm, though, that I’ve decided he deserves a promotion. Problem is, the man can’t cook a thing. He does, however, possess a raging passion for mixology—which makes him a natural fit for the position of official bevy dude. This will give Brian a chance to shine, and, I hope, dramatically improve our cocktail coverage. After the photo, his first post.



Ah, the Sazerac. Touted by many as the first American cocktail ever created, or at least that folks can recall, it’s a drink that’s damn hard for whiskey imbibers not to fall head over heels for. And I’m not embarrassed to say that I did big time. I specifically place the blame at the feet of Sarah’s sister Lauren as well as her amazing pal Eddie—both individuals of impeccable taste.

My love affair with the Sazerac began two years ago, when I was treated to a sip at Bourbon & Branch, San Francisco’s tricky-to-enter speakeasy. Now, I’d had the drink before, but this particular glass of the brown stuff was jaw-droppingly delicious. The romance continued when I ordered the libation at Pegu Club, and at Flatiron Lounge (my favorite watering hole). The cocktail itself is pretty basic. It’s really just chilled, sweetened whiskey, lightly flavored by aromatics. But, like the Manhattan, this is one simple concoction that—when crafted with skill—can blow you away with sheer pleasure. Maybe it’s the sharp, citrusy smell of fresh lemon and subtle anise that greets your nose when you first lift the glass. Or perhaps it’s the cool, sweet richness of the rye as you dive in deeper. Or is it the cereal-like creaminess that lingers on your tongue after you swallow—and keeps you coming back for more? Here’s a thought: why don’t you find out for yourself?


1/2 teaspoon Herbsaint (Pernod works too and Absinthe would be even better)
1/2 teaspoon simple syrup
1 dash of Peychaud’s bitters (for a twist, use Fees Brothers Orange Bitters)
2 ounces rye whiskey
Piece of lemon peel

Start chilling an old-fashioned glass. Add rye, syrup, and a dash of bitters to a mixing glass, then add plenty of ice. Stir patiently for about 20 seconds. Now grab the chilled old-fashioned glass and rinse with the Herbsaint—be sure to discard the excess since you just want to coat the glass lightly. Strain the rye mixture into the old-fashioned glass. Take the lemon peel, squeeze its aromatic essence into the glass, then rub it around the edge of the glass. And there you have it.

*Extra-fancy variation (takes some practice): warm the lemon peel a bit (the outside part) with a lighter or lit match. Then hold the match between the drink and the peel; squeeze the peel, so the essence ignites before dispersing into the drink. Extinguish match, rub peel around the edge of the glass.