The Sazerac cocktail, a timeless symbol of New Orleans’ rich drinking culture, is believed to have originated between 1830 and 1850. Crafted by Antoine Amedee Peychaud, a Creole apothecary, the drink was originally mixed at the Sazerac Coffee House, a popular gathering spot in the heart of the city. Peychaud’s own bitters, a key ingredient, lent the cocktail its distinct flavor, while the name ‘Sazerac’ originates from the Sazerac Coffee House, the venue where this iconic drink was popularized.
Originally, the Sazerac was made with cognac, specifically Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils, a brand popular in the 1800s. However, the phylloxera epidemic in Europe during the late 19th century devastated many vineyards, causing a significant shortage of cognac. This scarcity prompted bartenders to pivot, substituting rye whiskey, a more readily available spirit in the United States, for cognac. This switch not only preserved the Sazerac’s legacy but also added a bold, spicy twist to its flavor profile, marking the evolution of the cocktail into the version widely savored today.
This recipe is a modern take on this iconic cocktail that combines the cognac used in the original recipe with the later-introduced rye whiskey. I find that the cognac’s fruitiness cools off the rye whiskey’s spiciness. Here’s how I make a Sazerac.