The History of the Sazerac

America’s first craft cocktail, the source of the word cocktail, New Orleans official drink and above all delicious.

The Sazerac cocktail was developed in 1850 at New Orleans Sazerac Coffee House. It was originally made with cognac and locally produced Peychaud’s bitters. Around 1870, the cognac in the recipe was changed to rye whiskey.

Sazerac is a variation on the traditional whiskey cocktail served in any turn of the century bar in America. This variation, the addition of the liqueurs, caused patrons uninterested with this trend to order their drinks the old-fashioned way. Traditionalist or stubborn in sophisticates, you can decide.  The Sazerac is a wonderful after dinner drink but is also commonly drank during a cocktail hour on its own, similar to a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.  If you are in New Orleans we suggest French 75 for a great Sazerac experience.

As a side note,  Peychaud’s served his bitters and then a large end of an egg cup that was called coquetier in French and Americanized mispronunciation resettled on the word cocktail.

In 2008 Sazerac became the official cocktail of New Orleans. Who knew that states/cities had official cocktails?  Over the next few months I will be  examining more drink recipes and the history of the each of these drinks.  With the revitalization of craft cocktails there is a rich history that brings to life how our ancestors that lets us relate in a new way.  From the earliest days of our union, and also our European counterparts, there is much to learn.  If you have any ideas for future recipes you would like to know more about, submit your nominees for your city or any city for their official cocktail to and we will go over the history of your local drink.


Below is the drink recipe, along with the Vaportini recipe.  Try these side by side, take a sip from the drink, then try the Vaportini version for a great experience.

The Drink


  • absinthe or Pernod (There are many different styles of absinthe so find what works for you)                                          COCKTAIL_165.tif
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 2 oz Templeton Rye Whiskey (There are many different variations you can use here, (Cognac is the purist spirit, while I enjoy the Rye more, and others do use bourbon.)

How to make

  • Rinse a chilled glass with absinthe and pour out any that is left over.
  • In a separate glass, muddle the sugar cube and all of the bitters.
  • Add the whiskey, fill with cubed ice and stir.
  • Strain into the absinthe rimmed glass, and twist a slice of lemon peel over the surface to extract the oils and discard.

The Vaportini Sazeracclassic-vaportini

  • 1 drop of absinthe
  • 3 drops of Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 drop of Angostura Bitters
  • 1 ounce Templeton Rye
  • A twist of lemon which you let steep in the alcohol for 1 hour before consumption (this is optional)

Here is a link to a entertaining and solid Sazerac recipe from Common Man Cocktails.