In an Old-Fashioned glass (not a mixing glass; it’s part of the ritual), muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water. Add several small ice cubes and the rye whiskey,* the Peychaud’s bitters, and the Angostura bitters.**
Stir well and strain into a second, chilled, Old-Fashioned glass in which you have rolled around a few drops of absinthe (no substitute really works, but you can try either a mix of Pernod and green Chartreuse, or Absenthe) until its inside is thoroughly coated, pouring off the excess. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel (some insist that this be squeezed over the drink and discarded; Handy wasn’t so picky).
* Use the good stuff, if you can find it: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (13 years old), or Sazerac Rye (18 years old).
** Optional. It’s not in the original recipe, but it’s traditional nonetheless, and it’s not bad.
While visiting New Orleans this past weekend, I was introduced to a new and welcome companion, the Sazerac cocktail. Unassuming on the outside, Mr. Sazerac captured my immediate attention on my first sip. He is a complex, yet subtle blend of kick -ass cocktail.
I went steady with Gin & Tonic for many years, played the field a bit, settled in with Cosmopolitan for a few years, flirted with martinis, then was captivated by Negroni and have been with him for about a decade. Truth be told, after so many years in the relationship, I was getting a little bored and restless.
Sazerac is different from the others I’ve known and loved. Mr. S is from a pedigreed family that can trace itself backwards for generations, but there’s nothing stuffy about him. He’s self-assured, but displays startling originality and a compelling air of mystery as well which becomes obvious as soon as you get to know him.. He doesn’t preen in lurid bright colors or lure you in with cloying sweetness. He’s direct and authoritative, no foolish games played with him. He delivers what you came for. Quickly.
How very nice to meet you.