At first glance, this cocktail looks like a twist on the Old Fashioned with a splash of absinthe and specialty bitters, but the backstory is a bit more complicated. Born in New Orleans in the mid 1800s at the Sazerac Coffee House, the original recipe featured French cognac. But in the late-19th century, the phylloxera outbreak caused shortage of grapes, and therefore cognac. In the absence of the drink’s original spirit, rye whiskey became the defacto base. The Sazerac morphed again when absinthe became illegal in 1912, and a local pastis made from botanicals meant to approximate the taste of absinthe, Herbsaint, was subbed in. In 2007, absinthe became legal again in the U.S. and most bartenders have reverted back. The bold flavors in the drink—anise, spicy rye and herbal absinthe—make this one of the most beloved drinks in the canon of classic cocktails.
- 2 ounces rye
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup, (1:1, sugar:water)
- 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
- 1 barspoon absinthe
Garnish: lemon peel
- In a rocks glass, add a dash of absinthe and swirl to coat. Discard.
- In another rocks or mixing glass, add simple syrup, rye, bitters and ice and stir well.
- Strain into the prepared rocks glass.
- Garnish with an expressed lemon peel.