Let’s continue playing with the basic building blocks of the cocktail and create the New Orleans classic, the Sazerac.
There are only two new ingredients you need to add to the Old Fashioned, three if you count lemon zest. OK, four if you want to get fancy.
This needs to be rye, not bourbon or other whiskey.
Herbsaint or absinthe
It will be an investment as you will use very little for each drink. I’ll skip the religious wars over which is better, at least for now. I prefer Herbsaint for Sazeracs myself, but I won’t argue with anyone who prefers absinthe, especially if they are making the drinks.
There isn’t a substitute here, you need Peychaud’s for both the flavor and color.
Many recipes do not call for Angostura bitters, but I think it provides added balance.
A lemon for zest
The Sazerac needs lemon zest.
Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
This will offend some purists, I think it’s a good tweak, but it isn’t necessary- it isn’t in most Sazerac recipes, but I like to get creative. Luxardo Maraschino comes in handy for a variety of drinks, but you won’t use much.
I’ve been glossing over types of ice, and will continue to do so here- but eventually we’ll talk about ice in depth.
The pedantic will insist on two Old Fashioned glasses, but any two glasses which hold 8ish ounces will be fine for now.
A muddler or reasonable facsimile
A strainer (or careful pouring)
The drink start much like an Old Fashioned, but takes a couple of turns:
Put one or two teaspoons of sugar or sugar cubes into one glass (if using the maraschino liqueur, go light on the sugar).
Add two or three dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and one or two dashes of Angostura bitters to the sugar and muddle into a syrup. Adding a couple of drops of water will help dissolve the sugar.
If you want to use maraschino liqueur, add 1/4 ounce.
Add two ounces of rye and ice, then stir well.
In the second glass, add a splash of Herbsaint or Absinthe, roll the glass to completely coat the inside of the glass and dump out the excess.
Note: I often use a food-grade mister to spray coatings such as absinthe inside glasses, then drain out the excess. This helps assure complete coverage even on oddly shaped or textured glasses. Completely optional, but a handy tip.
Strain the contents of the first glass into the second glass.
Cut a fresh chunk of lemon zest, making sure to avoid digging into the bitter white pith as much as possible. Twist the lemon zest over the drink and run the zest around the rim of the glass. Purists debate whether the zest should then be discarded or dropped in the drink. I’m not a purist, so you’ll just have to make one each way and see which you prefer.
Next time we’ll talk a little about some basic tools.