Thoughts of New Orleans may conjure up images of haphazardly tossed beads, general debauchery and enormous Hurricane cocktails. But for a true taste of New Orleans, you need to try a Sazerac. The Sazerac recipe predates the Civil War and is often referred to as America’s oldest cocktail (although that remains up for debate).

Psst… Looking for more vintage cocktail recipes? Try one of these classic after-dinner drinks.

What is a Sazerac?

In the middle of the 19th century, Antoine Peychaud began selling his homemade bitters in an apothecary in the French Quarter. Both revered for its “agreeable taste” and restorative powers, Peychaud’s Bitters became a popular commodity. The Sazerac Coffee House, a nearby drinking establishment, combined Peychaud’s Bitters with cognac, and the Sazerac cocktail was born.

What’s in a Sazerac?

A modern-day Sazerac combines a sugar cube doused with Peychaud’s bitters, a good pour of rye whiskey and a hint of absinthe. It packs a punch, and as such, is meant to be sipped.

How to Make a Sazerac

This Sazerac recipe makes one cocktail.


1 sugar cube
1-1/2 ounces rye whiskey
1/4 ounce absinthe
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Lemon peel, for garnish

Editor’s Tip: Learn how to make a lemon peel garnish.


Step 1: Prep your glass

Chill an old-fashioned glass in the freezer for at least 5 minutes.

Step 2: Mix the main ingredients

Place the sugar cube in a second old-fashioned glass. Soak the sugar cube with the Peychaud’s Bitters, then crush the sugar cube. Fill the glass with ice. Add the rye whiskey and stir to combine.

Step 3: Rinse the serving glass with absinthe

Remove the serving glass from the freezer. Add the absinthe and gently turn to coat the glass, discarding any excess.

Step 4: Strain and garnish

Strain the whiskey mixture into the serving glass and garnish with the lemon peel. Serve immediately.

Step 5: Laissez les bons temps rouler!

As they say in New Orleans, let the good times roll!

Pair your Sazerac with a New Orleans-themed dinner. This collection of Big Easy-inspired recipes is a great place to start.

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