the appetizer:

Anecdotes and recipes fill Good Spirits by A. J. Rathbun, including Eden; Rock and Rye; Americano; The Sazerac; and Strega.

Cookbook Profile

The Sazerac

There are many great cocktails that originated in New Orleans (the Vieux Carre, page 140 of the book, for one, and the better-known Hurricane, page 337, for another; not to mention the exerciser's favorite, the Ramos Fizz, page 129), but the splendid king of Louisiana drinks is the Sazerac.

Its history is aligned with that of cocktail making itself (at least according to one tale), and definitely bound together with Peychaud's bitters. In the early 1800s, apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud came to New Orleans from Haiti and began treating a variety of stomach and other ills with a combination of brandy and his own bitters, served in an egg cup. The egg cup at the time was referred to as a "coquetier;' a word often pronounced, the story says, as "cocktail." Soon many folks were using the Peychaud's bitters remedy, but the fervor really began when a coffee house in 1853 started mixing the bitters with its imported house Cognac. This hot spot was called the Sazerac Coffee House, and the Cognac was Sazerac de Forge et Fils. Since then, the Sazerac has gone through changes (with rye replacing Cognac, and with absinthe becoming part of the formula, and more recently with bourbon often replacing rye), but its popularity, both in New Orleans and beyond, hasn't waned—at least with those who've had the good fortune to try one. Be sure you're on that list.

1. Coat the inside of an old-fashioned or a rocks glass with the Pernod, swirling it around to ensure it meets all sides of the glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes.

2. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rye, simple syrup, and Peychaud's bitters. Shake well.

3. Strain the mix into the glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

A Note: While bourbon and rye, when possible, are used primarily in the Sazeroc today, if you have a good Cognac, try it. As Kerri McCoffety, author of the exquisite homage to New Orleans bars, Obituary Cocktail (Vissi d'Arte Bools, 2001), says, "The Cognac version is magnifique."

Simple Syrup

Makes 4-1/2 cups (36 ounces)

1. Add the water and sugar to a medium-size saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil over mediumhigh heat. Lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a low boil for S minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup cool completely in the pan. Store in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator.


Buy the Book


Good Spirits
Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments,
and Romance, Shaken and Served with a Twist

by A. J. Rathbun
Harvard Common Press, 2007
$29.95; Hardcover, 496 pages
ISBN: 1558323368
ISBN-13: 978-1-55832-336-0
Reprinted by permission.


Good Spirits



This page created 2007