2 oz. rye whiskey
1 lump (or tsp) sugar
1/4 tsp pastis
3-4 dashes Peychaud bitters
1 lemon twist
Coat the inside of an Old Fashioned glass with the pastis, pouring off any excess. Muddle sugar and Peychaud bitters with a few drops of water (less than 1/4 tsp), or use simple syrup. Stir rye in an iced shaker to chill and strain into glass. Twist lemon peel over drink to release its oils.
Despite an abiding fondness for the Old Fashioned, I had not until now sampled the Sazerac, its close relative and one of New Orleans’ signature cocktails. In part, I blame this shortcoming on a perpetual lack of ingredients: I prefer Scotch for neat drinking and Bourbon for mixing, particularly dislike the anise flavors of pastis (Absinthe, Pernod, Herbsaint, etc), and have never owned a bottle of Peychaud bitters because, well, its raison d’être these days is the Sazerac. Fortunately, my recent commitment to stocking a broader bar means that I now have a bottle of Pernod to employ when a pastis is called for, and a bottle of Peychaud on the general principle that I should find more uses for bitters. I picked up some Old Overholt Rye just today, and in the Sazerac I have found ample justification for keeping all three in constant supply.
If you like an Old Fashioned, you will very much enjoy a Sazerac. If you’re not one for short whiskey drinks, this may not be for you, though I would encourage testing that assumption. If you dislike licorice and anise, don’t be put off — the rye seems to mask the aspects of anisette that I find objectionable, and yet the drink is much more complex than straight rye with a bit of sugar. There must be undertones to the Pernod and Peychaud’s that emerge from this venerable synthesis, because there is a honeyed cherry fruitiness to the Sazerac that makes all the difference in the world.
Others have written on the subject better and more extensively than I could hope to, and I direct attention in particular to Chuck Taggart’s excellent appreciation of the Sazerac from his Gumbo Pages site. In print, the recently published vol 1. of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail contains a biography of A. A. Peychaud by Phil Greene, touching in many places on the Sazerac’s 170 year history.