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The Sazerac


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Does anyone know where in DC one can obtain a properly made Sazerac? (An inveterate inebriate friend of mine wants urgently to know.)

Firefly was offering them last week to raise money for the Katrina relief effort. They may still have them. Derek or John will probably chime in here.

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Isn't that the drink that contains absinthe?  Maybe I'm confusing it with something else...

Oui. The classic ingredient is Herbsinthe, a Louisiana version of the French original. But a more easily obtainable subsitute works well, such as Pernod, Ricard, etc. (Ironic that the French versions are easier to find.) I wonder how one of the Czech absinthes would taste in this drink.

The other ingredients are Rye Whiskey and Peychaud's Bitters, plus some sugar.

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Real quick...freeze and then line an old-fashioned glass with Herbsaint (a cheap pastis-like substance, usually available at Potomac Wine & Spirits on M St. in Georgetown), chill rye, Peychaud bitters, and a bit of syrup, strain into said chilled, lined glass, garnish with a lemon twist.

(Shuffles through fridge...) Bring me a lemon and I'll make you as many of them as you want.

And I think it's entirely reasonable to expand this thread into a lament on the lack of rye whiskey in our fair city's bars.

PS: I spoke at length yesterday with Jeff Kundinger, GM/sommelier of Restaurant Cuvee on Magazine St. in NO's CBD. The restaurant is fine (all the wine is cooked) and they hope to reopen soon, at least to feed the folks working on cleanup and rebuilding. The major roadblock appears to be the reopening of the hotel (the St. James) that surrounds the restaurant. Cuvee's owner, the mercurial Kenny LaCour, was quoted in a story on this morning's AP wire.

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Firefly was offering them last week to raise money for the Katrina relief effort.  They may still have them.  Derek or John will probably chime in here.

Yeah, I had one the other week and really enjoyed it. It's fairly strong, and very peachy. Amazing peach scent, too. Not sure if there was herbsaint in it, though; might have been bourbon.
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I heard one being discussed, ordered, and tasted at a nearby table at Firefly last week. I'm pretty sure theirs involves peach schnapps and bourbon. Which sounds like a variation on the theme, but maybe not the "properly made" version the original poster was looking for.

Still, I'm pretty tempted to walk over there and try their version...

Jael

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I heard one being discussed, ordered, and tasted at a nearby table at Firefly last week. I'm pretty sure theirs involves peach schnapps and bourbon. Which sounds like a variation on the theme, but maybe not the "properly made" version the original poster was looking for.

Still, I'm pretty tempted to walk over there and try their version...

Jael

True enough, perhaps, but it is a tasty beverage in it's own right, and it's for a good cause!
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I'm pretty sure theirs involves peach schnapps and bourbon.

I just hear the words "peach schnapps" and I run away screaming. (Doesn't peach schnapps + bourbon = Southern Comfort?)

Thanks for all your suggestions. It'll be fun exploring them!

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I really like bourbon. I really like peaches. Neither of them go in a Sazerac.

Oh the purists!

We've created a more, let's say, universal version of the Sazerac for the cause. It's made like a Sazerac only we wash the glass with Peach Schnapps (instead of Pernod, Ricard, Herbsaint, or even some funky Turkish Anisette). We also muddle peaches with the simple syrup, Peychaud and Angostura bitters.

The Peach Sazerac is $12 and half goes to the American Red Cross. It's tasty. And, yes, it's like a more refined Southern Comfort with several layers of Peach (fresh peach, peach syrup, canned peach), some anise (from the Peychaud Bitters) and the tasty, woody-sweet flavor of Woodford Reserve.

If you want a real real one go to Palena. They use Wild Turkey Rye.

I can make you a Bourbon or Cognac Sazerac at Firefly (consequently, both are acceptable subs and Cognac is more real than real--hypereal--in that it was how it was first made).

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I used to be able to buy Sazerac Rye at the Montgomery County Liquor store in Bethesda. If you want a really drop-dead delicious, authentic Sazerac cocktail, you gotta make one with Sazerac Rye in a glass rinsed with Pernod. It is the Woodford Reserve of rye whiskeys-- omgod, so smooth, complex and delicious. Also, breathtakingly expensive. I believe it is made in Kentucky despite its Louisiana origins. Alas, they seem no longer to carry it at the MOCO stores. Anyone know where to find it? I have a friend who lived in NO and graduated from Tulane. I used to bring her a bottle of Sazerac as a gift on special occasions. No can do no more until I find it again.

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I used to be able to buy Sazerac Rye at the Montgomery County Liquor store in Bethesda. If you want a really drop-dead delicious, authentic Sazerac cocktail, you gotta make one with Sazerac Rye in a glass rinsed with Pernod. It is the Woodford Reserve of rye whiskeys-- omgod, so smooth, complex and delicious. Also, breathtakingly expensive. I believe it is made in Kentucky despite its Louisiana origins. Alas, they seem no longer to carry it at the MOCO stores. Anyone know where to find it?  I have a friend who lived in NO and graduated from Tulane. I used to bring her a bottle of Sazerac as a gift on special occasions. No can do no more until I find it again.

Certainly an expensive Sazerac!

Sazerac is a Buffalo Trace Distillery product, released in limited quantities twice a year and with scattershot distribution. It has no "Louisiana origins" to speak of--it's just a name Ken Weber and the good folks at BT came up with to confuse bartenders across New Orleans (where the stuff is pretty readily available). It's good stuff, no doubt, though maybe a bit too soft, acquiring some of the same characteristics as Scotches that have seen a bit too long in the cask. I bought my bottle in Cambridge, MA recently, for about $45. (At Central Liquors on F St, there's a couple-year-old bottle on the shelf for, I think, $99.99).

Another release is coming soon. Your most likely chance to get it in this area is at the Montgomery County store in Burtonsville. The manager there is a Bourbon nut and gets all kind of stuff the other MonCo stores don't get. (For those of you on more of a budget, he often has Very Old Barton 90 proof, which is excellent, highly complex bourbon at its price point).

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Another release is coming soon.  Your most likely chance to get it in this area is at the Montgomery County store in Burtonsville.  The manager there is a Bourbon nut and gets all kind of stuff the other MonCo stores don't get.  (For those of you on more of a budget, he often has Very Old Barton 90 proof, which is excellent, highly complex bourbon at its price point).

Great tip, thanks? Where's the MoCo outlet in Burtonsville?

What are the origins of this drink?

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What are the origins of this drink?

Craig came home yesterday with a 1984 copy of "The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook" that he found at a yard sale.

Under the recipe for Sazerac Cocktail, the authors claim that it originated in the Sazerac Bar in the Vieux Carre. "This was an all-male bar, closed now, where men would go after work to do business--and drink. The cocktail is potent, and one is enough.

An impressive presentation, which our bartenders have perfected, is to coat the prechilled old-fashioned glass with Pernod by swirling it in the air and catching it. Don't try it out with your best crystal!"

The recipe calls for Herbsaint or Pernod, 1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey, 1/3 ounce Simple Syrup, 4 dashes Peychaud bitters, 2 dashes Angostura bitters, and a twist of lemon as a garnish.

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I'm no expert on the cocktail, only having had it a few times, but I had a pretty damn good one at Temperance Hall a few months back. Not sure if they're still doing them since they've become the Looking Glass and scaled back on their rye selection.

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Acadiana is a great customer of ours, but I would prefer my Saz's less shaken than what appears to be the standard there. But straining it through a sugar cube on an absinthe spoon is a nice touch.

And this is day 67 of "Cork Held Hostage: Where the $*$$ Is The Rittenhouse, Distributor-Man?!"

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This was in the PS7 thread, but that was a while ago... So is she still there?

Thank you, Jake. I hope everyone enjoyed. However, her name is Laura. We will try to have her make all Sazeracs, if possible. There's that bit of authenticity that only she lends to the cocktail.
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A month into the great Sazerac search, and here's my first report. Still more places to try - I just don't get into town as often as I'd like, especially at this time of year.

Acadiana: A nice version made with Old Overholt Rye and Absente (not sure which bitters), shaken with ice and strained over a sugar cube into a cocktail glass. Sweet, light anise flavor, and very smooth [unfortunately I was a little pickled while taking notes, so I'm not sure if the Absente was coating the glass or in the shaker].

Bourbon/Adams Morgan (Owen): Pernod over ice chilling the glass, tossed out when the shaken mixture of Old Overholt, Peychaud, and a touch of simple syrup was strained into the glass; lemon twist. Classic prep yielded a beautiful, delicious drink.

Bourbon/Glover Park: Not so good. One of the Willetts, too much Peychaud, simple syrup, Pernod, lemon peel. Not sweet, very unbalanced, and a huge pour. Disappointing. Waste of good whiskey.

Dino (Chris): A fantastic but not traditional version made with Willett "Iron Fist", St George Absenthe Verte, Peychaud, simple syrup and a lemon twist. Didn't taste traditional but damn was it good. Really, really good.

Palena: damnit but I still haven't managed to be watching while the drink is being made, so I have no idea what goes into it. Served up with a lemon twist, it remains the smoothest, best-balanced drink of the group. Must go back to back Palena/Dino to determine my favorite... hmmm, I sense a bar plan coming.

PS7's: Jim Beam rye [to be fair, it was the only rye they had during the distributer shortage], Granier, Angostura muddled with sugar; shaken with ice and strained into glass. This drink was distinctly anise flavored and harsh, a bit thin, with the whiskey lost in the middle.

The report will continue in anoter week or so once I've tried a few other places. Maybe my comrade in this search will post findings...?

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I'll second the ones that Owen makes at Bourbon/Adams Morgan. When we went there for the rhum tasting his Sazeracs were fan-fugu-tastic.

After I finish recovering from our trip to NYC I'll have to try Palena and Dino's.

Mmmmm, Sazerac...

(still resisting the urge to make Sazerac jello shots for my kickball team. just to teach them for asking me to make jello shots.)

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I like a Sazerac made with Rittenhouse BIB. The "traditional" Saz, using Old Overholt, is perfectly nice, though.

If using the Overholt, you should use Herbsaint (traditional) or absinthe (really traditional) for the rinse. If you want to perk up your Sazerac with a better pastis than Herbsaint, use the Henri Bardouin and you'll never go back to Pernod or Ricard again.

Chantal at the Tabard DOES make a lovely Sazerac, immensely satisfying.

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If you want to perk up your Sazerac with a better pastis than Herbsaint, use the Henri Bardouin and you'll never go back to Pernod or Ricard again.

You have any left to sell me?

Chantal at the Tabard DOES make a lovely Sazerac, immensely satisfying.

On the list. ;)

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The Sazerac Search, part 2.

Tabard Inn: Old Overholt, Lucid, Peychaud, lemon twist. A nice version but a tad unbalanced (I would have liked it a bit sweeter).

Cork: Kudos to Tom Brown for stating up front that Cork was out of rye whiskey. Instead of trying to fake it, he made us his drink named Dawn over Manhattan: Maker's Mark, Carpano Antica Formula, Kubler, whiskey barrel bitters, orange slice, star anise. A superb drink, slightly sweet, very smooth, balanced, a nice hybrid of Manhattan and Sazerac. I would totally drive into DC and hang out at Cork just to drink this again. I want to drive into DC and hang out at Cork and drink this again. Now.

Bar Pilar: At first Adam promised a deeply traditional drink, but then said that he wanted to make us something different, after all. The boy can't resist playing with the booze. ;) What he concocted was clearly Sazerac influenced but had a taste all its own: Sazerac 6yo rye, Kubler, caraway-infused simple syrup, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit twist. The caraway gave this drink a mild savoriness that worked well with the sweet-tartness of the grapefruit. I think next time I go to Bar Pilar I'm going to say to Adam "just make me something" and see what happens.

So, not much to report on the traditional front in this round, but some great discoveries nonetheless. BTW, I should state that it was Derek Brown who made me fall for this drink, a few years back when he was at Firefly. Happy memory.

There are only a few more places on the radar. Any other favorite bar/tenders to recommend?

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Just a tip-in here to say that the adventures of Porcupine inspired me to try the Sazerac at Palena (Overholt, St. George, Angostura, simple syrup), where I also had their brilliant Manhattan made with cherry infused syrup--simply divine. We then staggered/walked over to Dino, where Chris used fine ingredients but in such quantity that I could not finish the drink (the first time for me since the Carter administration) and cannot now remember what they were. Palena's was the more purist version, though served strained in an Old Fashioned glass rather than with ice, which surprised me. Chris's at Dino was on the rocks, however, as was I thereafter.

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Brian at Central Michel Richard last week made a very good Sazerac.

Good to know. Last time I was there (months ago) and asked for a Sazerac (don't know if the bartender was Brian or someone else), the answer was "what's a Sazerac?". FAIL

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The Washingtonian started a video series on bartenders preparing drinks and, low and behold, Chantal Tseng is featured doing a Sazerac. She does this version nearly perfect, so take notes. For those with a sweeter tooth, it's not unreasonable to ask for a touch more simple syrup. Not me though, I want a touch more bitters! Either way is a matter of personal taste, her execution is perfect. Nice touch spinning the glass in the air.

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The Washingtonian started a video series on bartenders preparing drinks and, low and behold, Chantal Tseng is featured doing a Sazerac. She does this version nearly perfect, so take notes. For those with a sweeter tooth, it's not unreasonable to ask for a touch more simple syrup. Not me though, I want a touch more bitters! Either way is a matter of personal taste, her execution is perfect. Nice touch spinning the glass in the air.

After watching this video, Jonathan decided that almost 3 p.m. wasn't too early to have a drink, so we made Sazeracs, minus the glass twirling. We made a few substitions, but ended up with a mighty fine cocktail. Didn't have Old Overholt, so we used Willett... I know, I know. It's 136 proof and Old Overalls is 86 or maybe 90. Willett tastes a whole lot better, too. We didn't have any absinthe, so we used Bardouin pastis. And rather than waiting for me to make some simple syrup, Jonathan used a few drops of blue agave syrup. We did use Peychaud's bitters, though. And lemon zest. I know it's supposed to be stirred and then drunk without ice, but that 136 proof rye is sta-RONG, so we tipped a couple of icecubes into our glasses to dilute it just a little bit. Shlrrp!

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Okay, so Derek nominates Chantal at Tabard Inn for a good Sazerac; apparently Bourbon has one, too; Palena's knocked my socks off. I'd bet Tom Brown makes a great one. Who else?

Johnny Fulchino's love of all things New Orleans and his recent addition of the absinthe bar at Johnny's Half Shell make for a great sazerac. You should give it a shot.

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Brian at Central Michel Richard last week made a very good Sazerac.

Not bad at all.

Johnny Fulchino's love of all things New Orleans and his recent addition of the absinthe bar at Johnny's Half Shell make for a great sazerac. You should give it a shot.

Unfortunately they were out of Peychaud's, so no saz for me. But props to the bartender for saying no to my request instead of trying to fake it.

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