When I was in New Orleans last September I ate at a wonderful restaurant called Herbsaint. I decided to let the bartender choose my first drink by asking him, “If I’m only going to have one drink in this town, and that drink is going to be in this bar, what should I have?” His answer was “A Sazerac.”
“The Sazerac” he continued, “was invented in New Orleans and was possibly the first cocktail ever.” He began making the drink with what seemed like a superfluous act, filling up a highball with ice and water only to later dump it out into the sink. A tiny amount of Herbsaint Liquer was poured into the glass, swirled around and quickly poured out. He then measured out some Rye whiskey and simple syrup, added a dash of bitters, wiped the edge of the glass with a lemon peel and then threw the peel away. Which was my favorite part of the process. The drink itself had a strong and distinct whiskey flavor but with a few complexities that made it go down easy. It has since replaced the scotch on the rocks as my drink at home but I don’t think I plan to order it any bars outside of the south.
Chill a highball glass by filling with crushed ice and water. Add the Herbsaint to the glass and coat the inside of the glass with it. Discard the excess. It’s important to have the glass already chilled with ice water because it allows the Herbsaint to easily coat the glass and be discarded, otherwise the Anise taste is too strong.
In a separate glass shake the sugar, rye whiskey, and bitters over ice; strain into the highball. Fold the lemon peel over the rim, wipe the inside and outside once and discard the peel.