Greg and I spent Memorial Day meeting up in New Orleans with friends, taking in the sights, sounds, and most of all, the amazing cuisine! Of the many delicious things we tried (shrimp and grits! beignets! fried oysters!), one of my favorites was the classic New Orleans drink, the Sazerac. It's supposedly the grandfather of all cocktails, invented in the early 19th century, and, with the popularity of all things whiskey based these days, is probably due for a comeback.
I ordered a Sazerac the first chance I got, while waiting for our table at Luke, John Besh's brasserie style restaurant. I immediately loved it and tried to figure out the ingredients so I could make one at home. It had a distinct taste that I couldn't quite identify, which turned out to be a anise flavored liquor (also know as an anisette - which is a great word!) called Herbsaint. When I did a little research, it turns out most recipes call for absinthe, but everywhere we went in New Orleans used Herbsaint, which was quite delicious.
If, like me, your go-to whiskey drink is a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned, a Sazerac is a great alternative when you feel like mixing it up, or if you want to impress your friends with something that feels a little more complex. It features a rinse of Herbsaint which will make you seem fancy. Or if you are less ambitious, order it out at the bar instead of your usual.
A couple of quick notes - I found Herbsaint at Astor Wine & Spirits, which is my go-to for hard to find drink ingredients. Depending on your state's liquor laws, you can order it from their website. Also, I used McKenzie Rye from Fingerlakes Distilling. You can use whatever you have on hand, but that happens to be one of my favorite New York State regional whiskeys - check it out!
- 1 1/2 oz rye
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
- Splash of Herbsaint
- lemon peel
Get out two Old Fashioned glasses. Fill the first with ice. In the second glass, add the sugar and bitters. Add in the rye and stir it up. Pour the ice out of the first glass. Add a splash of Herbsaint, swirling it around to coat the glass. Pour out any remaining Herbsaint. Put the the rye combo into the cold glass with the Herbsaint rinse. Add a sliver of lemon peel, and enjoy!