Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Sazerac...

There are those who say that this was the first cocktail.... There's a lot of dispute over this and I am certainly not going to add another theory. In this post I will simply log the results of my research…If you wish to know more then I will simply point you in the direction of David Wondrich’s “Imbibe!” a fantastic read that contains some fascinating points of research and a truly inspirational slice of literature.


Now, introduction and plugging aside, I will proceed…


The main name associated with the Sazerac cocktail is one of Antoine Amadie Peychaud, a Creole apothecary who moved to New Orleans from the West Indies and set up shop in the French Quarter.

Peychaud would dispense a proprietary mix of aromatic bitters from an old family recipe, to relieve the ails of his clients, this is obviously what we know today as Peychaud’s Bitters.

Peychaud became famous for a drink he would dispense for his friends, one that today we would call an “Old Fashioned Brandy Cocktail” however periodically it was just known as the “Brandy Cocktail” as it wouldn’t have been very “Old Fashioned” in the mid to late 19th century!

According to local legend he served his drink in the large end of an egg cup that was called a “coquetier” in French, and as convenient as it sounds, some say that the pronunciation of this as "cocktail" brought about the name for the genre of drinks we make today 

Whose monkey was in space first...?!

The drink itself consisted of Cognac, mixed with Peychaud’s secret blend of bitters, a splash of water, a measure of fine sugar and a splash of absinthe. Thirsty?

Unfortunately, we cant reproduce the original drink today, due to the extreme scarcity or non-existence of the Sazerac-du-Forge-et-fils cognac, however you can reproduce it with a good splash of a mid-range Hine or Hennessey Cognac. One problem is that since the prominent spirit was changed in the 1920’s, you will find that in most bars today the Sazerac is made with Rye Whisky.

Now, Sazerac Rye 6yr is the obvious choice for most bartenders but I assure you that after trying it with something like Pappy Van Winkle 13yr Family Rye, you will become instantly ignorant towards anything other than Thomas Handy Uncut Rye (named after the bartender that first used rye whisky in a Sazerac) or Rittenhouse 21 but they are in a different league of flavours, prices and availability.

So, all I can do now is, if you haven't already, recommend that you try one (or more?) with cognac and one with rye whiskey...then let me know which you preferred, with which spirit, and why? 

If you already know...then opinions are expected!!

Until next time...

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