The first American (Absinthe) Cocktail: The Sazerac


Dear Absintheur! We like to drink our glass of Absinthe the traditional way with cold water. But sometimes we also enjoy Absinthe as a cocktail. Our favorite Absinthe cocktail is the Sazerac. Rumor has it that it is the oldest American cocktail…

Absinthe Cocktail “Sazerac”: The History

To find out more about the meaning of the name “Sazerac” we have to go back all the way to the year 1850, where Sewell Taylor sold his bar The Merchants Exchange Coffee House, which was located in the New Orleans area. He did that to concentrate on the import of a certain French Cognac brand called Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils (Sazerac of Forge and son). At the same time Aaron Bird, the buyer of the bar, changed the name to Sazerac Coffee House. That is when Bird started serving his signature cocktail the “Sazerac”. He used the imported Sazerac Cognac from Taylor, as well as a dash of French Absinthe (have in mind that we are in New Orleans, a city established by the French) and bitters being made by the local apothecary run by Mr. Peychaud (the brand “Peychaud Bitters” exists till today).

Sazerac Forge et Fils
Old “Sazerac de Forge & Fils” label

Unfortunately in the 1870s, due to the phylloxera epidemic in Europe that devastated the vineyards of France, the new bar owner Thomas Handy changed the (expensive and rare) Cognac to Rye Whiskey. Before his death in 1889, he recorded the recipe, which then made its first “official” appearance in the cocktail book The Worlds Drinks and How to Mix them in 1909. Due to the Ban of Absinthe in 1912, Absinthe was temporarily replaced by the Herbsaint, which is an anise-flavored liquor.

Absinthe Cocktail Sazerac: The Preparation

To prepare a “Sazerac” you do not simply mix all the ingredients. We will tell you what you need and how to do it. The ingredients and bar accessories:

  • 5 cl Cognac (1.7 oz)
  • 1 cl Absinthe (0.3 oz) We suggest Absinthe Heritage Verte, because of its intense flavor or even better 60 drops of the ALANDIA Wormwood Bitters (20 drops match 1 ml / 0.03 oz, therefore 60 drops are 3 ml / 0.1 oz ) 
  • 1 Sugar Cube (or syrup)
  • Two dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Two Tumbler glasses
  • One lemon zest for decoration
The Sazerac Recipe (Source: Shutterstock/Netkoff)

How to make the Sazerac:

  1. Take the first glass, add Absinthe and swivel to coat the walls with the spirit. That will give the drink its great flavor that we all love so much.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients in the second glass with some ice.
  3. Strain the mixture into the first glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon zest and enjoy!

Thirsty and ready to prepare the drink? We would love to hear about your experiences with this wonderful cocktail!

Much love,

Nico from the ALANDIA Team

3 thoughts on “The first American (Absinthe) Cocktail: The Sazerac”

  1. I recently found a bottle behind the baseboards of my 1850s house ….looking for it on the net is proofing fruitless ….as the labels sazerac de forge and sons ….yes “sons”not ” fils” …..has anyone seen this before …thx Ray

  2. Hello,
    Is it possible to have your mail you found a bottle of Sazerac de Forge and sons can you send me a picture I can give you a response.

  3. Growing up in the South with a father who had lived in New Orleans, I learned the “poor relations” version of the Sazerac:
    – 3 parts bourbon
    – 1 part anisette
    – Peychaud or Angostura bitters to taste
    – some added soda, but additional sugar was seldom needed.

    I moved to New York as the Cajun food fad was hitting, and was amazed that none of the “Cajun” restaurants had ever heard of a Sazerac!
    Looking forward to mixing these with Absinthe. Mardi Gras is coming!

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