Some things just go together -- and the obvious accompaniment to food is drink. Welcome to Booze52, in which we explore all manner of libations that do much more than just wash down a meal. 

Today: New Orleans' gift to the world, in liquid form. (Make one with us, step-by-step!)

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A New Orleans bucket list is never a short one. There are beignets to be had, jazz to be listened to. Carnival. Jambalaya. You should also drink a Sazerac. 

The cocktail’s first mix has been credited to Antoine Peychaud, circa 19th century, in the Big Easy's French Quarter (recognize that last name? Yes, he also made bitters.). Originally a drink made with cognac of the same name, the Sazerac became Americanized with rye whiskey after a grape phylloxera outbreak in the 1870s decimated the Cognac vineyards of France.

We’re glad for the switch. Layering rye whiskey with bitters, a hint of sugar, and a well-meaning cloak of an anise spirit makes for one of the best things contained in one rocks glass. If you can’t get to New Orleans, mix one up yourself. And then another, if you’re so inclined. 

Combine whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters in a shaker filled partway with ice. Stir well.


Over a rocks glass, measure and pour a bar spoon full of absinthe. Then swirl to coat (this is your rinse), and pour out the excess.


Strain contents of your shaker into the glass. Rub the rim of the rocks glass with a lemon twist and discard, then drink! 


2 ounces rye whiskey
1/4 ounce simple syrup
3 dashes Peychaud bitters
1 barspoon Herbsaint or absinthe (sub Pernod in a pinch)
Lemon twist

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Adam Gazzola
    Adam Gazzola
  • bhivedesign
I spend about an equal amount of time behind the laptop and behind the stove. In between preparing and writing about food, I love to hang out with my husband, three children, big shaggy dog and two cats. History is also my thing, especially the Regency period, U.S. Westward expansion and World War II. Favorite drinks: good pinot noirs and classic martinis. Favorite book: Pride & Prejudice. Favorite obsessions: Laura Ingalls Wilder and South Dakota


Adam G. July 7, 2013
Here's one I made you might enjoy. Don't know if anyone thought of this yet but it sure was delicious! 2 ounces Sazerac rye, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, teaspoon whole fresh ginger, 1 lemon wedge, 4 - 5 mint leave and a splash of soda water. Muddle the ginger, lemon and mint in the simple syrup add rye, ice, soda and prepare to be amazed!
bhivedesign March 28, 2013
A Sazerac, at the Sazerac Bar in the Fairmont Hotel at the end of the St. Charles Street cable car line...especially at Christmastime, when the hotel lobby is decorated to the gills...there is truly no other experience like it. For several years afterward, the bartender that made me that drink sent me a Christmas Card...fantastic!