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“Meeting a good drink, like meeting a good man, is an unforgettable experience.”  Dianne Vapnek


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 1/2 ounces whiskey — rye whisky
  • 2 dashes Bitters — Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 dash Bitters — Angostura bitters
  • absinthe
  • lemon peel

old-fashioned glass


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.

The Back Story

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.

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Looks great – I’ve yet to make one of these but I just bought some absinthe and I’m looking forward to giving it a try!

  • Judi Wallner says:

    Oh my gosh, I think that I’d end up on my butt!

  • Eleanor Moriarty says:

    Sounds very interesting however and D as there is always a however, I choose as favorite liquor single malt scotch but given price range after late 90’summer could not have as regular drink. Discovered about 6 years ago, our incredible bourbon ,only Kentucky, -truly a rival with the scots.
    Can’t do gin-however a nice vodka -hand made batches with a good quality tonic, lime is a warm humid days solution.

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