The Sazerac-The Original Cocktail

A piece of patriotism in your glass


In honor of July 4, a celebration of patriotism, freedom and a general sense of looking back and seeing “where it all began,” it seemed appropriate to write about something that is a true representation of seeing where it all began in the world of the cocktail.

The Sazerac is what is known as the first “original” cocktail, and rightfully so. As the story goes, in 1838 an apothecary owner in New Orleans by the name of Antoine Amedie Peychaud had a habit of making brandy toddies for his friends using his homemade “Peychaud’s Bitters,” made from a secret recipe. The toddies were made using a coquetier, which is a double-ended egg cup being used as a jigger. Coincidentally, this is where the word “cocktail” was derived from! So, the first cocktail came to be.

By 1850, the Sazerac Cocktail was being made with Sazerac Brandy and Peychaud’s Bitters and was incredibly popular. After becoming the first “branded” cocktail, the recipe was slightly altered in 1873 to replace the French Brandy with an American Rye Whiskey. A splash of absinthe was also added. In 1933, the cocktail was bottled and marketed by the Sazerac Company in New Orleans, and soon after, a new absinthe known as Herbsaint was used as the official absinthe in the Sazerac Cocktail. Most recently in 2000, the recipe was altered once again to specify using Sazerac Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey in the making of an official Sazerac.

Photo courtesy of Brother O'Mara via Flickr/cc
While other nations were drinking for hundreds of centuries before the Sazerac came to be, the United States of America can take great pride in knowing that the first official cocktail came from our native land, specifically New Orleans. From the Sazerac a multitude of classic cocktails were born, and any bartender worth his weight in whiskey should know how to make a perfect Sazerac behind the bar. Isn’t that what July 4 is all about? Pride in our country? What better way to celebrate country pride than with an All-American cocktail?

Below you’ll find the recipe for the official Sazerac cocktail, as provided by The Sazerac Company. I hope you feel the American spirit behind it and take pride in knowing that you are drinking a piece of history!

Cheers and Happy Fourth of July!

The Official Sazerac Cocktail


1 sugar cube
1 ½ oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon
¼ oz Herbsaint
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Lemon peel


In an Old-Fashioned glass, pack ice to the rim. In a second Old-Fashioned glass, crush together the sugar cube with the Peychaud’s Bitters. Add the whiskey to this glass as well. Empty the ice from the first glass, and rim the inside of the glass with the Herbsaint. Empty the mixture from the second glass into the first glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Source: The Sazerac Company

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: JWW
    123769 3

    try adding a little brandy instead of the sugar cube. also I first add the Pernod and bitters to the ice, coat ice and glass well, then drain off the excess. gets me the right amount every time.

    Jul 03, 2012 at 12:31 PM

  • Snooth User: Sara Kay
    Hand of Snooth
    1073521 1,420

    Wow, great tip! I will be sure to do that next time I prepare a Sazerac, which will probably be tomorrow!

    Jul 03, 2012 at 12:36 PM

  • Snooth User: Taurus1067
    1117106 17

    You're missing a step in the preparation method: chilling the whole mixture with ice! Here's how I do it.

    Phase I: Pack a Whiskey tumbler with ice, set aside. In a Boston glass, add one sugar cube, 3 dashes of Peychaud Bitters and muddle. Add the rye whiskey to the sugar/bitters mixture and top it with a scoop of ice. Stir well!

    Phase II: The ice is emptied from the whiskey tumbler and the ¼ oz of Herbsaint is poured into the glass and swirled to coat the sides of the glass. Any excess Herbsaint is discarded. The rye/sugar/bitters mixture is then strained into the Herbsaint-coated glass and the glass is garnished with a lemon peel.

    Jul 03, 2012 at 1:54 PM

  • I don't use of sugar cube, but Sugar Syrup.

    Jul 06, 2012 at 7:07 PM

  • Snooth User: kerrygil
    1118424 20

    Wonderful drink with rich history, simple syrup works better than sugar cube, and mixing everything together then shaking vigorously in a martini shaker works very well, then pour into the "chilled" absinthe coated glass...lemon twist optional. A great American drink, enjoy! Kerry Gillihan, KY

    Jul 09, 2012 at 10:46 PM

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