The Sazerac is one of the claimants for oldest cocktail ever, so  of course we decided we should give it a try. There are two recipes (see below) so we decided to mix four of the original recipe and one of the rye version to share and compare. And given how old the recipe is we decided to chill the glasses the old fashioned way with ice rather than popping them in the freezer like we usually do.

How the Sazerac Cocktail Came to Be

In 1838, Antoine Amedie Peychaud, owner of a New Orleans apothecary, treated his friends to brandy toddies of his own recipe, including his “Peychaud’s Bitters,” made from a secret family recipe. The toddies were made using a double-ended egg cup as a measuring cup or jigger, then known as a “coquetier” (pronounced “ko-k-tay”), from which the word “cocktail” was derived. Thus, the world’s first cocktail was born!

By 1850, the Sazerac Cocktail, made with Sazerac French brandy and Peychaud’s Bitters, was immensely popular, and became the first “branded” cocktail. In 1873, the recipe for the Sazerac Cocktail was altered to replace the French brandy with American Rye whiskey, and a dash of absinthe was added.


  • 1.5 oz cognac
  • 1 cl absinthe (.33 oz)
  • One sugar cube (1 tsp)
  • Two dashes Peychaud’s Bitters (we used Scrappy’s Orleans Bitters)

 Chill an old fashioned glass with crushed ice and set it aside. When the glass is chilled, rinse with the absinthe.

Muddle the sugar (cube) and bitters in another old fashioned glass. Add ice and stir in cognac. Discard  any excess absinthe from the prepared glass, and strain the drink into the glass. Add a lemon twist and drop it in for garnish.

Version 2
  • Absinthe
  • 1  Sugar cube (1 tsp)
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 oz American rye whiskey
Rye on the left, cognac on the right.

The verdict: Wow! Just wow. One of the sites we researched termed this drink “booze forward” and the first sip packs a punch. But even those of us who generally make that “icky face” when faced with straight alcohol soon were smiling with the  warming liquorice tones of this classic classic. In the end it garnered four thumbs up and is definitely worth trying again.

The rye version was amazingly similar to the the original cognac-based recipe. Either version will give you a good sense of what this cocktail is about. So what are you waiting for? Head out and see if you can find the the right bitters, because that’s the biggest barrier to enjoying this delicious cocktail.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *