Sazerac Cocktail (Germain-Robin Brandy)

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.

007

Sazerac Cocktail.
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.

Sazerac Cocktail (Michter’s Straight Rye)

Sazerac Cocktail 17 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.

005

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (10ml Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Michter’s Straight Rye)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

Michter’s is an historic American Whiskey Brand. Something like it was originally produced in Pennsylvania, though the history is quite tangled.  Suffice it to say that most of the current whiskey sold as “Michter’s” has very little to do with whatever whiskey was made in 1753.  However, fortunately, Michter’s US*1 Single Barrel Rye is a very nice rye.  It treads a nice path between the lack of impact of some of the lower priced ryes and those big boys who strain your pocket book.

Makes a fine Sazerac, as well.

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.

Sazerac Cocktail (Barbancourt 15)

Sazerac Cocktail 16 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.

026

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (10ml Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Barbancourt 15 Year Old Rhum)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

Let’s just pretend this didn’t happen, OK?

I thought by picking an agricole style r(h)um, I would get closer to Rye or Cognac.

And in fact, we have a drink on our menu at Heaven’s Dog that is basically this r(h)um in an old-fashioned. It is delicious.

In a Sazerac, though, nope. There’s some interaction here, probably between the r(h)um, Peychaud’s and Absinthe that just leaves this tasting like a big glass of flat Sarsaparilla.  Not good, not good at all.

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.

Sazerac Cocktail (Beretta)

Sazerac Cocktail 15 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.

009

Mrs. Flannestad and a friend wanted to meet for dinner at Front Porch. Casting about for nearby sources of Sazeracs, Beretta occurred to me. Wow, could it really be nearly 2 years since I visited with Mr. Thad Vogler in this restaurant?

Dropping by, I was pleased to discover Mr. Ryan Fitzgerald behind the bar.

I should really have a picture of him here, but I failed to get a decent image of him while photographing at Beretta.  Ambient light photography can be a bitch.  Just google “I hate cocktails” and I’m sure you’ll find something.

But while Ryan and I were emailing back and forth, trying to schedule another photo shoot, my wife noticed that his email address meant something, “I didn’t know that Ryan was in a band.” I had no idea either until she explained that his email address related to the band “Broker Dealer” on the well respected Ghostly label.

Reminds me of one of the things I really like about working in restaurants.  Almost every one has some interesting hobby or other interest.  Talking to bartenders and waiters, you often discover amazing things they are doing other than working in bars or restaurants.  Whether it’s wood working, film making, political activism, raising a family, or running a small business, it seems many are over achievers with a keen interest in living life to the fullest.  They aren’t people who can easily be defined using a single category.  I often feel like the most boring guy at the party, as all I do is work a computer job, bartend, and write this blog.  Well, those and training a dog are keeping me pretty busy at the moment, so what can you do?

011

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters.
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled, add l dash Absinthe and squeeze lemon peel on top.

Another perfectly executed and delicious Sazerac. Mr. Fitzgerald’s use of Gum Syrup is interesting. A lot of bartenders say it adds a lot to a cocktail like a Sazerac, mostly in texture. I really want to do a blind tasting of a few different sweeteners before I finish this. Gum Syrup, 2x Simple, 1x Simple, and cube sugar. I am curious what the perceivable differences will be.

012

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.

Sazerac Cocktail (Rickhouse)

Sazerac Cocktail 14 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.

002

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar.
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters.
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled, add l dash Absinthe and squeeze lemon peel on top.

003

Visiting Rickhouse for an event, I took the opportunity to ask for a Sazerac.

004

Kelli was kind enough to stir one up with Wild Turkey Rye.

006

Delicious!  Nothing weird or unusual going on here, just a perfectly executed Sazerac.

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.

Sazerac Cocktail (Jardiniere)

Sazerac Cocktail 13 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.

028

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar.
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters.
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (Copper Fox Rye Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled, add l dash Absinthe and squeeze lemon peel on top.

029

Well, I did mention I would try to get some friends involved.

I first met Brian Mac Gregor just this year, oddly. We were both participating in the B.A.R. Live training and testing seminar at a hotel. After meeting, I sent him a “friend request” on facebook and he graciously accepted. While perusing his profile, I noticed that he was a fellow ex-Wisconsinite, and excitedly sent him a message.  Turned out he remembered traveling through my home town as a kid en route to the Cave of the Mounds.  Hilarious!

Brian’s Bio blur: tending bar for over five years, born and raised in milwaukee, father was a bartender for over 25 years, mother is a teacher.  Currently the bar manager at Jardiniere.  Lives with his girlfriend and our greyhound Pooka.

When I started thinking about the Sazerac Project, I really wanted to get some other bartenders to make them.  It’s interesting to see how the different styles of mixing create a similar, yet completely different drink.  I sent a note to Brian, asking if he had any interesting ryes.  He mentioned the Copper Fox Rye, so I dropped by for a Sazerac one night Mrs. Flannestad and I were in the neighborhood of the bar he manages, Jardiniere.

030

Brian went old school, doing the whole muddling of the sugar cube and everything. The Sazerac ended up on the lean and boozy side, a good thing when you’re featuring a whiskey with as much character as the Copper Fox Rye. This is a really interesting whiskey, almost Scotch-like in its complexity and nuance. I really enjoyed it both on its own and in the Sazerac.

Brian also sent along this original cocktail he created for San Francisco Cocktail week a couple years ago.  Slivovitz and St. Germain in the same cocktail?  If trying that unlikely combination isn’t enough of a reason to stop by the bar at Jardiniere, I don’t know what is.

Tippler’s Delight

1.5 oz Navip Slivovitz
.75 oz St Germain
.75 oz Lemon
dashes of Vieux Pontarlier Absinhte
shake and strain

033

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.

Sazerac Cocktail (Death’s Door White Whiskey)

Sazerac Cocktail 12 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.

025

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (10ml* Rich Simple Syrup**)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Death’s Door White Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

*Woops, briefly degenerated into using the “barspoon” measure. Sorry about that.

**Double Whoops. I make “Rich Simple Syrup” by adding 2 parts sugar, (usually Florida Crystals Natural Cane Sugar,) by volume to 1 part of water. Heat it over a very low flame, not boiling or even simmering, stirring until the sugar dissolves. You can actually dissolve it without heat, but it takes more patience than I have.

So what is a Sazerac?

I’m gonna say that the method is more determinative of the drink than that actual ingredients.

Over the years, starting from Chuck Taggart’s writeup on his Gumbopages website, I have a “simple” six step process for every Sazerac I make.

1) Chill the serving glass with crushed ice and water.  Learned this trick from Jackie Patterson, crushed ice chills the glass much more effectively than cubes.
2) Add the Whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters, and syrup to the mixing glass.
3) Add ice to the mixing glass and stir for, uh, as long as it takes. Minimum of 30 seconds with big, dry ice. Less with small, wet ice.
4) Dump the crushed ice and water out of the serving glass and add a few dashes of absinthe. Swirl to coat the glass and dump out excess.  Some people like to toss the glass up in the air and shout, “Sazerac!” at this point.
5) Strain the chilled booze into the serving glass.
6) With a vegetable peeler, cut a fresh swath of lemon peel, twist it over the glass, rub it along the edge, and drop it in.  Some frown on dropping the peel into the Sazerac, but when I don’t customers often ask where the lemon peel is. Apparently, they like to see it floating in the drink. It does give more lemon impact to the flavor of the drink itself.

With all the press and excitement around unaged Whiskies these days, couldn’t skip mixing a Sazerac with one!

So how about dat dere Death’s Door White Whiskey in a Sazerac, ya hey?

Not bad at all.  And funny, the Sazerac it has the most in common with is the Bols Genever Sazerac. There’s a nice malty character to both spirits, and the Bols Genever is so subtly spiced that you might have a hard time with a Blind tasting with it and the Death’s Door Whiskey.  At least in a Sazerac.  The Whiskey does have a little more heat on it than the Genever.  Still, a fine and enjoyable beverage.

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.

Staggerac (Hazmat 2006)

Sazerac Cocktail 11 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.

016

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (Generous Bar Spoon Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Ransom George T. Stagg Bourbon, 2006 Antique Collection)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

I don’t really mix with Bourbon often, as I find the lean-ness of rye more appealing in a cocktail, however one of cocktails made famous at the bar P.D.T. in New York city is their “Staggerac”.

It is a Sazerac made with the 140 proof George T. Stagg Bourbon, also known as “Hazmat”, as any liquor over 140 is technically a Hazardous Material and illegal to carry on planes, through tunnels, and subject to innumerable annoying Federal regulation.

Anyway, since I had a bottle of Stagg in the house, and I really have only used it to make Blue Blazers (Rocking, by the way!), I thought it would be fun to make myself a Staggerac.

Talk about getting your motor running! Cough. Yer gonna want to give this a nice long stir. Then maybe stir it some more. And don’t plan anything for the rest of your evening.

Is it any good?

Nearly the ultimate expression of the East Coat obsession with overproof brown spirits, to be honest, The Staggerac is an interesting, rather expensive, and extremely potent novelty.  Can I call it a modern day “Earthquake“?  If you’re going to go “pricey” stick with a Sazerac made with the Sazerac 18 Year Rye or the Tuthilltown Hudson Manhattan Rye. There’s just something about Bourbon that distracts from the essence of the Sazerac.

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.

Sazerac Cocktail (Ransom Old Tom Gin)

Sazerac Cocktail 10 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.

009

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (Generous Bar Spoon Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

Huh. Don’t like this at all.

I had pretty high hopes, after the two Genever-style gin Sazeracs. It seemed like the Ransom should be a slam dunk, conceived as an early version of Old Tom, when they were basically attempting to emulate Genever. Plus, I’ve enjoyed the Ransom Old Tom in several other cocktails, especially things like the Lone Tree or Martinez.

But, for me, this Sazerac doesn’t work at all. I’ve stretched it beyond the breaking point.

The citrus botanicals in the Ransom are just too intense. Combined with the Absinthe and the Peychaud’s this just ends up tasting like sweetened Orange Flower Water.

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.