The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans
Sazerac Cocktail History:
The Sazerac cocktail is to New Orleans what the margarita is to the
southwest. It is reported to be the first cocktail every invented (at
least in the United States). Antoine Amadie Peychaud, a Creole
apothecary, is given the credit for first inventing the Sazerac cocktail
in the 1830s. In 1795, he immigrated to New Orleans from the West Indies
and opened a drugstore called Pharmacie Peychaud. Like many "chemists"
of his day, he sold his own patent medicine; Peychaud's Bitters, a
proprietary mix of aromatic bitters said to relive his clients'
ailments. His medical toddy soon became very popular and friends
gathered regularly to sample his late-night drinks.
The drink was named after an
imported Sazerac cognac, Sazerac de Forge et Fils, which was originally
used in making the cocktail.
Stomach bitters were
basically alcohol disguised as medicine. they became extremely popular
from 1850 to 1870 due to the liquor tax laws, the popularity of
temperance movements, and local restrictions on the liquor trade.
Peychaud had a unique way of
serving his drink. He served it an an egg cup, know to the French
speakers as a coquetier. Most historians believe that the work
"cocktail" came from a mispronunciation of this French word.
The popularity of the
Sazerac cocktail led to the opening of a large bar in 1852 called the
Sazerac Coffee House (coffee house was the term used for drinking
establishment in the mid-1800s). The bar had a 125-foot-long bar manned
by a dozen bartenders all mixing Sazerac cocktails for patrons. In 1870,
Thomas H. Handy purchased the Sazerac Coffee House and also bought out
the rights to Peychaud's Bitters. In the early days, the Sazerac
cocktail was made with cognac or brandy, but as American tastes changed,
rye whiskey was substituted. This unique cocktail derived it anise scent
from absinthe. Beginning in 1912, absinthe was banned in the United
States because of its habit-forming quality. Pernod, Herbsaint, or
Ricard was substituted in place of absinthe.
The Sazerac cocktail is now
associated with the Sazerac Bar at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans,
and the hotel pays an annual fee to the Sazerac Company for the use of
the name. When visiting the Sazerac Bar, if you don't want to be labeled
as a tourist, be sure not to ask for Ssazerac on the rocks - this drink
should never be served with ice.
On June 23, 2008, The Louisiana House of
Representatives proclaimed the Sazerac as New Orleans' official
Sazerac Cocktail Recipe - How To Make Sazerac Cocktail:
Beverage and Cocktails
Yields: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 min