Cocktail Hacker

    Hack What You Drink

Archive for August, 2008

Sazerac Videos

Posted by Reese On August - 5 - 2008

Well fellow hackers, I’m leaving on vacation tomorrow for the weekend so I’m going to be leaving you in the capable hands of Aaron.  Before I depart though I want to leave you with some web reading and watching about the Sazerac.

Robert Hess’ Cocktail Spirit show has a nice series of segments on the Sazerac.  The first two cover a Sazerac party held in San Francisco, the third is Robert’s recipe for making the drink.

Saturated with Sazeracs – Episode One

Saturated with Sazeracs – Episode Two

Saturated with Sazeracs – Episode Three

There is a great discussion of Rye Whiskey over on the eGullet forums.  And another great discussion of The Sazerac itself.

Hope you’re enjoying your Sazeracs this week, I certainly have been.  See you in a few days!

The Sazerac

Posted by Reese On August - 2 - 2008

When you hear about New Orleans (NOLA) any number of images likely pop in to your head.  For me I think about NOLA’s rich cocktail history.  Nothing sums up this cocktail history better than the Sazerac.  Recently named the official cocktail of New Orleans (after a proposal to make it the official drink of Louisiana was defeated) it’s clear I’m not the only one who holds this view.

Created in the early 1800s by Antoine Peychaud, the creator of Peychaud’s bitters, this drink was originally made with Sazerac Brandy.  However, when the Phylloxera bug hit France in the 1860’s the drink’s primary spirit changed to the more widely available American Rye Whiskey.  A similar story surrounds the other main ingredient Absinthe.  When Absinthe (or more specifically thujone) was regulated in the US the flavoring changed to pastis, usually Herbsaint.  Now that Absinthe has returned to the US I’d recommend you try that as the flavoring.

The traditional recipe for the Sazerac reads as follows:

“Take two heavy-bottomed 3 1/2-oz. Bar glasses; fill one with cracked ice and allow it to chill while placing a lump of sugar with just enough water to moisten it. Crush the saturated lump of sugar with a bar spoon. Add a few drops of Peychaud’s Bitters, a jigger of rye whisky and several lumps of ice and stir briskly. Empty the first glass of ice, dash in several drops of Herbsaint, twirl the glass rapidly and shake out the absinthe. Enough of it will cling to the glass to impart the desired flavor. Strain into this glass the rye whisky mixture prepared in the other glass. Twist a lemon peel over the glass, but do not put it in the drink.”

This recipe is a touch confusing in my opinion.  I much prefer Chris McMillian’s recipe.

“Chris McMillian, late of the Library Bar in the Ritz Carlton New Orleans – among others, has the Sazerac glass into which is then added a sugar cube (would’ve been loaf sugar in the 19th century, so more like a sugar nugget) over which is dashed enough water and Peychaud bitters to create a syrup in the bottom of the glass, which is performed with the aid of a muddler, either of hardwood or hardwood with a porcelain muddling head. Several medium-sized pieces of ice are then added, and about 2 oz. of rye whiskey is poured in. This mixture is then STIRRED, as traditionally all drinks not containing egg or fruit juiced were, with a bar spoon and strained via a strainer, either Hawthorne or cobbler, into a SECOND Sazerac glass rinsed with pastis (generally Herbsaint) standing ready to receive the drink. A small piece of lemon peel is then twisted smartly over the surface of the drink which is then ready to serve.” – Ted Haigh (Doctor Cocktail)

Or, in our usual recipe format:

The Sazerac
[Ingredients]
2 oz Rye Whiskey
Dash of Absinthe
Dash of Peychaud's Bitters
Sugar Cube
1 tsp Water
[Directions]
1) Combine water, sugar, and bitters in a Sazerac glass
2) Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved
3) Add Rye and Ice
4) Stir until drink is chilled
5) Add Absinthe to another chilled glass and swirl to coat
6) Strain cocktail into coated glass
7) Garnish with a lemon twist

The ingredients you’ll need for this cocktail you may not have at this point.  You can substitute Bourbon for the Rye, but the flavor will be considerably different.  Same holds true for the Absinthe (sub any pastis) and Paychaud’s bitters (sub your favorite bitters).  That said, if you want a true Sazerac find the original ingredients.  Trust me, its worth it.

Ingredients:
  • American Rye Whiskey
  • Peychaud's Bitters
  • Absinthe
  • Sugar Cubes
  • Lemon

This cocktail calls for a Sazerac glass, but in a pinch you can use an old fashioned glass or small juice glass.

Tools:
  • Sazerac or other small glass
  • Measuring Device (Jigger)
  • Bar Spoon (Or other stirring stick)
  • Strainer

Enjoy a piece of New Orleans history this week as you sip your Sazerac.

The Old Fashioned – A Drink of Simplicity

Posted by Reese On August - 1 - 2008

This week’s experimentation with the Old Fashioned has been very rewarding.  This is a drink I first mixed up only a couple month’s ago and is now, without question, one of my favorites.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post the drink is simplicity at its finest and truly sums up the classic definition of what makes a cocktail: spirits, water, sugar and bitters.  Although Embury’s recipe is very good all by itself and certainly requires no changes, there are a couple small tweaks I like to make.  Take a peek at yesterday’s post for full details.  My final chosen recipe decreases the simple syrup to 2 tsp, which results in a pleasantly sweet cocktail.  As for bitters Angosutra alone is very good, but I encourage you to try some others.  You may find you prefer some of the other recipes even more.

Cocktail Hacker Old Fashioned:
[Ingredients]
2 oz Whiskey
2 tsp Simple Syrup
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 Dash Fee Brother's Old Fashioned Bitters
[Directions]
1) Combine Syrup, Bitters and Whiskey in an Old Fashioned Glass
2) Stir to combine
3) Add two cubes of ice
4) Garnish with a twist of orange

In looking at a number of Old Fashioned recipes this week I noticed something interesting.  A lot of cocktail books call for either muddling of fruit or adding soda water, or both.  While neither of these is necessarily a bad thing, they are both completely unnecessary.  €œI think Crosby Gaige summed it up nicely in his 1941 book Cocktail Guide and Ladies€™ Companion. “Serious-minded persons omit fruit salad from Old Fashioneds, while the frivolous window-dress the brew with slices of orange, sticks of pineapple, and a couple of turnips.”  When you muddle fruit in the drink you end up with a pulpy mess of fruit carcass floating in your drink, not so nice.  Try the drink with the orange twist alone.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of fruity notes it adds.

With that, we’ve reached the last of Embury’s Six Basic Cocktails.  All of them quite good, although perhaps not always by his recipe.  One thing I find interesting is that, of his six, three were sours (The Sidecar, The Daiquiri, and The Jack Rose).  This isn’t a bad thing, but it does leave out a number of other cocktail styles such as the collins and the highball.  This in mind we’ll be covering some of these cocktails in the weeks to come.  Overall Embury was on the right track with his six.  My guess is he was attempting to introduce cocktail noobs to some basics that would pique their interest in the cocktail arts.  This he most certainly has accomplished.

Hope you all have enjoyed these first few weeks and we’re looking forward to the weeks ahead.  Until next enjoy your cocktails.