Sazerac straight rye (45% ABV)
Star rating: 4/5
The sazerac. A globally known cocktail that bears similarity to the chicken tikka masala, in that both servings have recipes which vary vastly depending on who makes it for you.
This much loved, much varied cocktail was first born in the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans, way back in the 1800s. Whilst trading as a coffee house, the Sazerac was in fact just one of a number of saloons fronting themselves as caffeine connoisseurs.
Punters were served a popular toddy made with Peychaud’s bitters and rye whiskey, later eponymously known as ‘a sazerac’, the tipple went on to become the official cocktail of New Orleans in 2008.
The drink is no stranger to the spotlight, the screen has seen sazeracs ordered in Bond films as well as in various TV shows over the years – an episode of HBO hit Treme sees a sazerac dashed in the face of famed food writer Alan Richman.
So, if you aren’t familiar, you are probably wondering what on earth is a sazerac and how it is made? The cocktail is a close cousin of the old fashioned.
You can pour one by stirring a brown sugar cube and cold water in a glass before stirring in two large ice cubes, two measures of Sazerac rye whiskey, two dashes of Peychaud’s bitters and one dash of Angostura bitters.
If you want to go the whole hog, drop two dashes of absinthe into a separate glass and swill around before pouring off the excess and straining in the contents of the first glass.
The storied history of this whiskey is evident just from looking at its pre-Civil War styled bottle. The distinctive, long and octagonal shape of the Sazerac bottle alludes to the tales it has to tell of late nights in the jazzy, hedonistic capital of blues that is New Orleans.
The nose is what you would expect from a well-balanced rye: fruits are seasoned with pepper and warm spices before being drowned in syrup.
This follows through to the palate which is delightfully thick and gloopy, you find yourself almost having to chew through the vibrant blood orange notes that are well matched by butterscotch and burnt oak. The finish is much thinner but slick and well spiced with white pepper taking the fore.
The perfect pour
Overall this is a whiskey that is impressively well balanced given its syrupy spine. Sazerac also scores highly for versatility, it is enjoyable on the rocks but can pack a punch in many a whiskey based cocktail – of course, there is only one cocktail to try first.
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This review was last updated in June 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.