The Sazerac

A New Orleans classic for Mardi Gras

Your cocktail calendar entry for: February
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Today it’s the Sazerac for Mardi Gras.  Not like you need a specific reason to have a drink, but Mardi Gras is a as good a reason as any and the Sazerac is a quintessential New Orleans drink.

Our astute readers immediately think of New Orleans and its Mardi Gras traditions when the holiday comes up.  And that’s justified – the tradition goes back a long way with the first record of celebrations being in 1699 right at the mouth of the Mississippi River.  In 1730 an account by Marc-Antione Caillot described celebrations with music, dance, masks and costumes (apparently cross-dressing was game as well).  By 1833 a rich plantation owner, Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville raised money to fund official Mardi Gras celebrations.  Formal balls, and eventually parades, became de rigeur.  By 1875 Louisiana governor Warmoth signed the Mardi Gras Act making Fat Tuesday an official state holiday, which it still is.

For Drink of the Day we turn to that New Orleans classic, the Sazerac, and we rely on none other than Stanley Arthur Clisby in his classic book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em.  As he notes, “there are cocktails and cocktails but the best known of all New Orleans cocktails is unquestionably the Sazerac.”

That said, our Editorial Board is also fond of the Vieux Carre for Mardi Gras or the Orange Satchmo to pay tribute to Louis Armstrong.  We’d also note that the Kanar Sazerac is awfully good if you want something a bit out of this world.

Sazerac Mardi Gras


Perhaps the most iconic New Orleans cocktail, the Sazerac emerged sometime around 1850 and was declaredNew Orleans’ Official Cocktail in 2008. Today, the Sazerac House, where it was originally served, is open to the public as a museum that shares the history of the New Orleans cocktail culture.
5 from 1 vote


  • Old Fashioned Glass


  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • Absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube worth of sugar or equivalent simple syrup
  • Peychaud’s bitters
  • Aromatic bitters of your choice. You probably have Angostura
  • Lemon peel


  • Start with two Old Fashioned glasses. Fill one with ice to chill.
  • Add the sugar cube, two dashes of Peychaud’s and one or two dashes of aromatic bitters to the second glass. Muddle, though of course if you have simple syrup handy (as you should) no muddling is needed. Add 2 oz rye whiskey.
  • Toss ice from glass being chilled and rinse with absinthe. For extra credit distribute the absinthe around the glass surface by tossing it, spinning on its axis, over your head while yelling “Sazerac!” This is optional.
  • Add ice to mixing glass, stir and strain into absinthe-rinsed glass.
  • Twist a slice of lemon peel over the drink to extract the oils.  Do not, as Stanley Clisby Arthur would note, commit the sacrilege of dropping the peel into the drink.  Ever.
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