Sazerac Cocktail 18 out of 28.
I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.
I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.
1 Lump of Sugar. (5ml Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Germain-Robin Fine Alambic Brandy)
Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Greenway Distillers/Germain-Robin Absinthe Superior) and squeeze lemon peel on top.
So the story goes, something like the original Sazerac was made by combining Sazerac-et-Fils Cognac with sugar and Peychaud’s Bitters. Eventually, a bar came to be known by the name “Sazerac House”, and this drink was served there. Some time in the late 1800s the Sazerac House’ book-keeper, Thomas Handy, took over managing the venue. He is usually credited with changing the drink’s base spirit from Brandy to American Rye Whiskey. Also in the late 1800s, when Absinthe was quite the trendy ingredient, that ingredient was introduced into the mix. Stanley Clisby Arthur credits the Absinthe embellishment to one Leon Lamothe, who was a bartender for a wine importing firm.
While there are plenty of “Brandy Cocktail” recipes, there are few recipes for a drink called the “Sazerac Cocktail” which turn up until around the turn of the century.
Even though it is unusual for the Sazerac Cocktail to be made with Cognac these days, I would be remiss to make it through this month without at least one Brandy version of the drink.
Since its release last year, Camper English has been touting the wonders of a new Absinthe from Germain-Robin and Greenway distillers. Germain-Robin is more well known as one of California’s foremost producers of Cognac-style grape brandies.
Greenway Distillers took a rather unusual tack with their Absinthe. Creating the alcohol base for the product by distilling a honey-apple mead, they are choosing a very unusual starting point. Almost all Absinthe starts as Grain, Grape, or Beet Neutral Spirits. In addition, they have included some rather unusual botanicals, like Rose Geranium and Lemon Verbena. I can’t say particularly that the apple and honey mead stands out in the Absinthe, other than to say that to my senses, the base spirit is of a very high quality. The flavorings, however, while traditional enough for the product to be immediately recognizable as an Absinthe, are quite unique in their character. They are also very, very intense, with the tongue numbing sensations characteristic of Absinthes flavored with Star Anise.
One thing I would really like to praise Greenway Distillers and Germain-Robin for doing is releasing the product in a 375ml bottle. At $60-$70 dollars for a 750ml bottle, it seems like the sticker shock can be something which presents a barrier to those purchasing a bottle of decent Absinthe. While around $30 for 375ml seems a bit pricey, at least you aren’t stuck with a lifetime supply of mediocre absinthe. Especially for cocktail use, as most call for mere dashes, this is a much more appropriate size.
Fond as I am of Germain-Robin’s brandy, it seemed like this would be a match made in heaven.
About all I’d say is the intensity of the Greenway Distillers Absinthe makes it very possible for it to come to the fore at the expense of the other elements. How you feel about that will likely depend on how you feel about Absinthe. While it is possible for an Anise hater to enjoy Sazeracs made with milder flavored Absinthes (or Absinthe Substitutes), that is likely not going to be the case with the Greenway Distillers Absinthe unless you are very careful with its application.
Also, with Brandy Sazeracs I often find myself missing the raw punch of Rye Whiskey. This is especially true with a Brandy as genteel Germain-Robin’s products. To get this version of the cocktail work well, you’re going to want to go very light on all the ingredients other than the Brandy and go for a relatively short stir.
Following those guidelines, I suspect you will find this enough of an interesting and enjoyable variation on the Sazerac to return more often to the drink’s historic roots as a Brandy cocktail.
This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.