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The Sazerac has a rich history and is considered by many to be the oldest known American cocktail. This classic cocktail is a variation of a cognac or whiskey cocktail that originated in New Orleans in the 19th century. The Sazerac is named after the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of cognac brandy that was originally used to make the drink.

a glass of Sazerac with ingredients as background

It has been a favorite of whiskey lovers for over a century and continues to be a popular choice at bars and restaurants around the world. Whether you are a seasoned whiskey drinker or just looking to try something new, the Sazerac is a must-try cocktail that is sure to impress.


The Sazerac cocktail boasts a captivating history that traces its origins back to the mid-1800s in New Orleans, Louisiana. Initially, it was crafted using cognac, absinthe, sugar, and Peychaud’s bitters, taking its name from the renowned Sazerac Coffee House nestled in the city’s French Quarter. During the Civil War, the scarcity of cognac prompted a shift to rye whiskey in the recipe, shaping the Sazerac as we now recognize it. This contemporary version retained its allure and was officially designated as the cocktail of New Orleans in 2008, often earning the moniker “Old-Fashioned of New Orleans.”

a glass of sazerac cocktail

Founded by Thomas H. Handy in 1869, the Sazerac Company took its name from Handy’s acquisition of the Sazerac Coffee House. Over time, it expanded its portfolio, evolving into one of the globe’s largest spirits enterprises. In 2019, the Sazerac Company inaugurated the Sazerac House in the heart of the French Quarter—a museum and interactive space commemorating the Sazerac cocktail’s history and the company that birthed it. With exhibitions, tastings, and a gift shop, the Sazerac House offers an immersive exploration of this iconic cocktail’s enthralling journey.

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In sum, the Sazerac cocktail’s captivating narrative intricately weaves through New Orleans’ tapestry and the Sazerac Company’s legacy, whether savored in a bar or discovered at the Sazerac House, this classic libation is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

How to Make It

a glass of sazerac cocktail with ingredients as background


Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

If you want to make a delicious Sazerac cocktail, you'll need a few key ingredients and some basic knowledge of how to mix them together.

Here's how you can make your own Sazerac cocktail at home:


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • Absinthe or Herbsaint
  • Lemon twist or lemon peel


  1. Begin by chilling an old-fashioned glass by filling it with ice and setting it aside.
  2. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube with the Peychaud's bitters until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the rye whiskey to the mixing glass and stir until well-chilled.
  4. Discard the ice from the old-fashioned glass and rinse it with absinthe or Herbsaint, making sure to coat the inside of the glass.
  5. Strain the whiskey mixture into the old-fashioned glass.
  6. Garnish the cocktail with a lemon twist or lemon peel.
  7. Enjoy your delicious Sazerac cocktail!


If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, you can add a bit more sugar.

Additionally, you can experiment with different types of whiskey, such as bourbon or single malts, and different types of bitters, such as aromatic bitters, to create your own unique twist on the classic Sazerac recipe

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If you’re a fan of the Sazerac cocktail, you’ll be happy to know that there are several variations to try. Here are a few to consider:

Rye or Bourbon

The classic Sazerac recipe calls for rye whiskey, but some people prefer the sweetness of bourbon instead. Feel free to experiment with both and see which you prefer.

Homemade Rye Bourbon Manhattan with a Cherry Garnish


Absinthe can be hard to find, so some people use Herbsaint or another anise-flavored liquor as a substitute. While not exactly the same, it still adds that distinctive anise flavor to the cocktail.

Creole bitters

While the original recipe calls for Peychaud’s bitters, you can also try using Creole bitters for a slightly different flavor profile. These bitters are made with a blend of herbs and spices, including anise and cloves.

Trademarked Sazerac

If you want to stick to the original recipe but with a twist, try using the trademarked Sazerac Rye whiskey. This whiskey is made specifically for the Sazerac cocktail and has a slightly different flavor profile than other rye whiskeys.

Sazerac - a classic alcoholic cocktail

Sazerac Manhattan

If you’re a fan of the Manhattan cocktail, try adding a Sazerac twist. Use rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, but add a rinse of absinthe to the glass before pouring in the cocktail.

Sazerac party punch

If you’re hosting a party and want to serve a large batch of Sazerac cocktails, try making a punch version. Mix together rye whiskey, simple syrup, bitters, and a splash of absinthe. Serve over ice with a lemon twist. Overall, the Sazerac cocktail is a versatile drink that can be customized to your liking. Whether you prefer rye or bourbon, absinthe or pastis, there’s a Sazerac variation out there for you to try.

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What alcohol is typically used in a Sazerac cocktail?

The traditional Sazerac cocktail is made with rye whiskey, but some variations use cognac or brandy.

What are the ingredients in a Sazerac cocktail besides Peychaud’s bitters?

In addition to Peychaud’s bitters, a Sazerac cocktail typically includes absinthe or Herbsaint, sugar, and a lemon peel.

What is the difference between an Old Fashioned and a Sazerac cocktail?

While both cocktails are made with sugar, bitters, and whiskey, the Sazerac uses absinthe or Herbsaint and a lemon peel, while the Old Fashioned uses orange and cherry garnishes.

What does a Sazerac cocktail taste like?

A Sazerac cocktail has a complex flavor profile, with notes of caramel, spice, and herbs. The absinthe or Herbsaint adds a subtle anise flavor.

What is the history behind the Sazerac cocktail?

The Sazerac cocktail originated in New Orleans in the mid-1800s and was originally made with cognac. It later evolved to include rye whiskey and became one of the city’s most popular cocktails.

What type of liquor is used in a Sazerac rye cocktail?

As the name suggests, a Sazerac rye cocktail is made with rye whiskey instead of cognac or brandy. This gives the cocktail a spicier flavor profile than the original version.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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