I like that I like bourbon. Is that weird? It’s like an ego thing. Now at least the people that doubt my taste in booze when I say I hate alllll beer can be comforted by the fact that I like bourbon.
I found out I like Bourbon because I enjoy absinthe (in a cocktail, anyway) and ordered up a Sazerac one day. Holy moly, that was a stiff drink. After sending it back because I tasted zero absinthe (it supposedly had been “misted” with absinthe but I think the bartender’s interpretation of “mist” was to hold the bottle near the drink and maybe hope the scent would transmit somehow), I really enjoyed it and was surprised to find out it was mostly bourbon.
But there is more-oh yes!
I liked the aesthetic.
How I like a Saz is half-taste, half the-whole-thing. The glass. The name. The lore. The experience. Priceless? Not really but who cares.
I tried a few different iterations of Sazeracs at home to concoct the perfect one. Perfect for me, anyway. My first attempts were seen on the Gruel here. Unlike my perfect Camparied up Cosmo I came up with, the Mo-ellen, my Saz recipe is not just for the beverage, but for the whole process.
First let’s break down the elements of this liquid refreshment.
Base alcohol: bourbon, rye, or (in The Ultimate Bar Book’s version for the original sazerac), cognac. Cognac? Apparently when the drink started in France that was the beverage of choice. No, no, and no. I do like cognac but bourbon makes it better. Rye is ok, but I think bourbon makes the smoother blend.
Sugar type: simple syrup, sugar cube or sugar. I say cube. Aesthetics, people. If you even think “agave” you need another drink.
Absinthe method: shake, swirl in glass and discard extra, or stir. I say swirl but don’t dump! What a waste of pricy liqueur. And I like a little stronger taste of it. At least sip the excess straight. Straight up absinthe-youcan do it! After all you are a badass who likes bourbon now.
Bitters: peychaud, angostura or both.
I like mostly peychaud with a dash or so of angostura.
Mixing/serving: stirred, shaken, rocks, or up. I don’t like drinks on the rocks usually, but I liked a cooling element so now is time for the fancy giant cube. I actually molded mine by lining an espresso cup with plastic then filling and freezing. Ran under hot water to get out and voila!
Now I give you my recipe for
The Sazerac Experience
Giant ice cube
Peychaud bitters to saturate sugar
A couple dashes Angostura bitters
Scant tsp. absinthe
2 oz. good bourbon
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
A lemon peel twist
Have that big cube ready in the freezer. Select your glass. I’m still on a hunt for the perfect old-fashioned glass for me. I’d like one slightly more slender than the standard with a good weight to it. You want a glass that says bad-ass mixed with elegance. Until I find mine, the one that feels best in my hand, I’m enjoying my glass with a skull on it.
Add absinthe and swirl to coat sides. If you don’t love absinthe you can get rid of any excess after this. I say keep it. Add sugar cube. Saturate the cube with the bitters. The extra absinthe comes in handy to get the sugar dissolving. Shake the bourbon and lemon juice with ice then strain into the glass. Add giant ice cube and really swirl. The sugar cube should really be dissolving. Now run the lemon twist around the top of the glass and drop it in. Ahhh. Savor that sucker. Now the real reason for the sugar cube. When you get to the bottom of the glass some of it will be left and you can dip your pinkie in and taste the sugar-y, bitters-y goodness. The drink’s dessert. Maybe it’s uncouth but absinthe is the drink for creative sorts who don’t play it safe. Who refuse to conform. Saz me.