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The Lenten Cocktail: The Sazerac

Fat Tuesday is upon us, and with it come the besotted heathens. Try a Sazerac instead of a Hurricane.

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Fat Tuesday is upon us, and with it come the besotted heathens who are, even as we speak, turning Bourbon Street into even more of a vomitous blight upon the Big Easy than it usually is.

Sane individuals know well to steer clear of Bourbon on Mardi Gras, but there is an ineffable charm to New Orleans that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere. It’s a city that has nearly everything to offer, with the notable exception of a survivable level of humidity in summer. Still, I’d urge anyone to visit after the bacchanal that Mardi Gras invites. Not least because with all those people there you’re likely to spill your Huge Ass Beer on someone, get into a fight, and have your throat cut in an alley.

Even if you have made the correct choice and avoided the French Quarter this week, there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy that most “N’awlins” of cocktails. (No, I do not mean the Hurricane. The last time I was in New Orleans I had three Hurricanes in approximately 15 minutes and found myself tagging along on a ghost walk that I was completely unprepared to appreciate) This is a real drink.

The Sazerac

The Sazerac is a true classic, one of the oldest cocktails, and one of my all-time favorites. It’s fairly simple if you have the ingredients, and is sheer perfection when you find yourself flagging in the course of your revelries. Procure the following:

  • A barspoon of sugar, or ¾ oz simple syrup
  • Peychaud’s bitters (very important)
  • 2 oz bourbon (or rye)
  • 1 barspoon of Pernod, Absinthe, or Herbsaint
  • Lemon twist for garnish

To begin, and this is non-negotiable, add ice to an old-fashioned glass and set aside to let it chill.

Add sugar to a mixing glass and saturate with Peychaud’s bitters to your taste. I use at least five or six dashes. You may add a little water here to help the sugar dissolve. Using simple syrup is acceptable.

Once properly muddled, add ice to the mixing glass. Add the bourbon. I chose to use Maker’s Mark, which is sweet and smooth and not something you’ll feel guilty about mixing. If you’re feeling exceptionally thorough you may use Sazerac rye. Stir until cold, but hold on just a moment.

Dump the ice from your now-chilled old-fashioned glass, and add the Pernod to it. Swirl it around the glass, coating the interior. Then discard the extra.

Next, strain the mixture into your glass and garnish with a lemon twist. Purists say that the twist should never be dropped directly into the drink, but they are wrong on this point. The citrus oils add a great nose to the drink and just a little bit more flavor, without taking away from anything else.

Sip this one slowly, savoring the herbal notes and the revivifying effect of the Peychaud’s along with the always-appropriate bourbon. Picture yourself visiting that beautiful city in Louisiana, luxuriating in the easy pace and glorious food. But for Heaven’s sake don’t actually go there until April if you value your life.

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