If you ask me to name a cocktail that embodies everything I love about cocktails, it'd be the Sazerac. Created circa 1850, the Sazerac is a spirit forward cocktail that combines the boldness of rye whiskey with the mystique of absinthe. With just a touch of sugar it's not a cocktail to be taken lightly but surprisingly goes down easy.
Originally the Sazerac was said to be made with brandy or Cognac. Either due to a bad season for vineyards in Europe or the rise in rye's popularity, Brandy was put aside and the Sazerac became known as a rye whiskey cocktail.
While comparing recipes I came across a couple that included Bourbon or Scotch (Waldorf Astoria Bar Book - 1935 Edition) and even Canadian Whiskey (Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930). This isn't as odd as it may seem since, due to prohibition, American Rye Whiskey was unavailable during the time these books were originally printed. Rather than let the cocktail die other whiskies were used as substitution.
Got a tummy ache? Drink a Sazerac!
Antoine Amedie Peychaud owned an apothecary in New Orleans. His bitters, combined with brandy, began as a remedy for stomach ailments. So, I guess that'd place the Sazerac in the category of digestives. It may not help with your tummy ache but after a few you may not even notice or care.
The Green Lady
You may come across a recipe that calls for a dash of Absinthe. I say ignore it and rinse the glass with Absinthe instead. I love how the Absinthe dances along the edges of the glass providing an anise aroma. It serves as a delicate barrier to the whiskey's spice.
2 oz Rye Whiskey
.75 ounce teaspoon sugar
.50 ounce Absinthe
3-4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
Lemon peel garnish
1. Swirl Absinthe around Old Fashion glass to coat, discard excess.
2. In a mixing glass, soak sugar with bitters.
3. Add Rye Whiskey.
4. Stir with ice.
5. Strain into glass and garnish with lemon peel.