Step into the rich history of New Orleans with our Sazerac cocktail recipe, a classic drink steeped in history and brimming with the vibrant flavors of the Big Easy. This spirit-forward sipper showcases the bold spice and subtle sweetness of rye whiskey tempered by herbal bitters.

Overhead shot looking into a rocks glass of a dark sazerac cocktail and lemon twist.

This Sazerac recipe stands out for its unique preparation by using a splash of absinthe to coat the inside of a cocktail glass. Simple syrup, rye whiskey, and Peychaud’s bitters are added to create a classic cocktail recipe

A close relative of the old fashioned, Manhattan, and gold rush cocktail, the Sazerac cocktail balances bourbon or whiskey with sweet and bitter notes, creating the right balance of flavors. If you’re looking for a classic whiskey cocktail that you can whip up in minutes, try making the classic Sazerac. 

What Is a Sazerac Cocktail?

The Sazerac cocktail has a rich and fascinating history, deeply rooted in the vibrant culture of New Orleans. Dating back to the early 19th century, the drink was initially crafted by Antoine Peychaud, a Creole apothecary, in his French Quarter pharmacy.

Originally crafted with Peychaud’s aromatic bitters, Sazerac de Forge et Fils cognac, and absinthe, this iconic cocktail quickly gained popularity among locals and visitors alike.

In the late 1800s, the recipe evolved with the substitution of rye whiskey for cognac due to its availability and preference among Americans. The Sazerac’s fame soared when it became the go-to drink at the Sazerac Coffee House, where it was garnished with an absinthe rinse and a twist of lemon peel. Its status as the official cocktail of New Orleans in 2008 cemented its legacy as a cherished emblem of the city’s vibrant cocktail scene.

Sid shot of a classic sazerac cocktail on a table with lemons and other ingredients.

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • FLAVORFUL – Sazerac cocktails are perfectly balanced, blending the boldness of rye whiskey with a hint of sweetness and aromatic bitters for a truly satisfying taste experience.
  • HISTORICAL – Beyond its delectable flavor, the Sazerac carries with it the rich history and vibrant atmosphere of New Orleans, making each sip a journey through the city’s storied past.

What You Need to Make A Sazerac Cocktail

  • Absinthe – This anise-flavored liqueur has an aromatic spirit, adding a touch of herbal complexity to the drink. It’s used to rinse the glass, imparting a whisper of its unique flavor to each sip. Look for a quality absinthe with a balanced profile, such as Pernod or Kübler.
  • Simple syrup – A staple sweetener in cocktails, simple syrup ensures a smooth and well-rounded flavor profile. It balances the sharpness of the rye whiskey and complements the botanical notes of the bitters. 
  • Rye whiskey – The backbone of the Sazerac, rye whiskey brings bold and spicy flavors to the mix. Choose a high-quality rye whiskey with a rich and complex flavor profile, such as Bulleit or Rittenhouse.
  • Peychaud’s bitters – These aromatic bitters add layers of complexity and aromatic depth to the cocktail. With hints of anise, cherry, and floral notes, Peychaud’s bitters provide the perfect finishing touch to the Sazerac. 

How to Make a Sazerac Cocktail

  • Add the rye whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters to a mixing glass.
  • Add ice to the mixing glass and stir until well chilled.
  • Pour the absinthe into a chilled rocks glass and swirl to coat the inside of the glass. Discard the absinthe.
  • Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve with a lemon twist.

Expert Recipe Tips


  • Use a quality rye whiskey: The choice of whiskey is crucial in a Sazerac. Opt for a high-quality rye whiskey with bold and spicy flavors to ensure a well-balanced cocktail. Brands like Bulleit or Rittenhouse are excellent options.
  • Don’t skimp on the absinthe rinse: While it may seem like a small step, the absinthe rinse plays a significant role in the flavor profile of the cocktail. Be generous with the absinthe, ensuring that every sip is infused with its unique aroma and taste.
  • Stir, don’t shake: Unlike some cocktails, the Sazerac is best stirred, not shaken. This gentle mixing method helps maintain the clarity and texture of the drink while blending the flavors seamlessly.
Long shadow coming off a sazerac cocktail in a rocks glass.

How to Serve This Cocktail

​Pour your Sazerac cocktail into a chilled rocks glass as a during or after-dinner cocktail.

Raise your glass and make a toast to the lasting charm of the Sazerac cocktail. This drink is a true symbol of New Orleans charm and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser at any gathering! If you try this recipe, please rate the recipe card and leave a comment down below to help out the next reader! 

Overhead shot of a sazerac cocktail to show orange twist in the highball glass.

Sazerac Cocktail

The Sazerac cocktail, originating from 19th-century New Orleans, blends rye whiskey, absinthe, sugar, and Peychaud’s bitters for a flavorful, iconic libation.
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Cocktail Recipes
American
Author: Kita
5 minutes
Serves: 1

Equipment

  • Mixing glass
  • spoon
  • rocket glass
  • Strainer

Ingredients

  • Absinthe - to rinse
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 4-6 dashes peychaud’s bitters

Instructions

  • Add the rye whiskey, simple syrup and bitters to a mixing glass.
  • Add ice to the mixing glass and stir until well-chilled.
  • Pour the absinthe into a chilled rocket glass and swirl to coat the inside. Discard the absinthe.
  • Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve with a lemon twist.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 237kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Sodium: 16mg | Potassium: 18mg | Sugar: 21g | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional informations provided as a courtesy and is only an approximatation. Values will changes based on ingredients used.

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Recipe FAQs

While absinthe is traditionally used to rinse the glass in a Sazerac cocktail, you can use an absinthe substitute. Some great options are Pernod or Herbsaint if absinthe is unavailable. These substitutes offer similar anise-flavored profiles that complement the other ingredients in the cocktail.

A Sazerac cocktail tastes like a delicious blend of spicy whiskey, sweet syrup, and aromatic bitters. The whiskey gives it a strong, bold flavor, while the syrup adds a touch of sweetness. Bitters bring in herbal and fragrant notes, and a hint of absinthe adds a unique twist with a touch of licorice flavor.

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