Drink of the Weekend January 16th ’15

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- Sazarac -

 

We first brought you the Sazarac cocktail in “22 Drinks You Need To Know How To Make” and then again in our article “Drink Like A Man“, so when it came to feature a drink for the weekend, we had to bring you more information on our newest obsession.

Unlike the recipe in the previous posts, below is the recipe for a single serving for you to try this weekend, but first…

here is a little history of the Sazarac and it’s controversial ingredient, Absinthe.

 

 

Back in 1838, Antoine Peychaud created the drink in a French Quarter bar and named it for his favorite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils.

In 1873, the drink was changed when American Rye whiskey was substituted for cognac, and a dash of absinthe was added by bartender Leon Lamothe, and today he is now regarded as the Father of the Sazerac.

It is around this time that the primary ingredient changed from cognac to rye whiskey due to the phylloxera epidemic in Europe that devastated the vineyards of France.

At some point before his death in 1889, Handy recorded the recipe for the cocktail, which made its first printed appearance in William T. “Cocktail Bill” Boothby’s 1908 The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them.

What makes the Sazarac unique is this addition of absinthe, a distilled, highly alcoholic (45–74% ABV / 90–148 U.S. proof) beverage, This makes whiskey’s standard 40 percent (80 proof) seem like child’s play, which is why absinthe is supposed to be diluted. Absinthe is not a hallucinogen; its alcohol content and herbal flavor sets it apart from other liquors.

Traditional absinthe is made of anise, fennel and wormwood (a plant), and various recipes add other herbs and flowers to the mix. The anise, fennel and wormwood are soaked in alcohol, and the mixture is then distilled. The distillation process causes the herbal oils and the alcohol to evaporate, separating from the water and bitter essences released by the herbs. The fennel, anise and wormwood oils then recondense with the alcohol in a cooling area, and the distiller dilutes the resulting liquid down to whatever proof the absinthe is supposed to be (based on brand variations or regional laws). At this point, the absinthe is clear; many manufacturers add herbs to the mixture after distillation to get the classic green color from their chlorophyll.

Absinthe traditionally has a natural green colour but may also be colourless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as “la fée verte” (the green fairy). Although it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a liqueur, absinthe is not traditionally bottled with added sugar; it is therefore classified as a spirit.

Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the late 18th century. It rose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Owing in part to its association with bohemian culture, the consumption of absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley, Erik Satie and Alfred Jarry were all known absinthe drinkers

Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug. The chemical compound thujone, although present in the spirit in only trace amounts, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in much of Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria-Hungary. Although absinthe was vilified, it has not been demonstrated to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirits. Recent studies have shown that the absinthe’s psychoactive properties (apart from that of the alcohol) have been exaggerated.

A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, following the adoption of modern European Union food and beverage laws that removed longstanding barriers to its production and sale. By the early 21st century, nearly 200 brands of absinthe were being produced in a dozen countries, most notably in France, Switzerland, Australia, United States, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

Absinthe offered for sale in the United States must be “thujone-free”, which is interpreted as containing less than 10 mg/L.[25] Absinthe with small amounts of thujone therefore can be legally imported.

Thujone is a GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) inhibitor, meaning it blocks GABA receptors in the brain, which can cause convulsions if you ingest enough of it. It occurs naturally in many foods, but never in doses high enough to hurt you. And there’s not enough thujone in absinthe to hurt you, either. By the end of the distillation process, there is very little thujone left in the product. Modern science has estimated that a person drinking absinthe would die from alcohol poisoning long before he or she were affected by the thujone. And there is no evidence at all that thujone can cause hallucinations, even in high doses.

Thujone is found in a number of plants, such as arborvitae (genus Thuja, hence the derivation of the name), Nootka Cypress, some junipers, mugwort, oregano, common sage, tansy, and wormwood, most notably grand wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), usually as a mix of isomers in a 1:2 ratio. It is also found in various species of mentha (mint).

Ok, back to the drink and why it’s America’s First Cocktail

In 1893 the Grunewald Hotel was built in the city, and at this time the hotel earned the rights to Ramos Gin Fizz and the Sazerac. After changing ownership several times, the hotel was restored bringing back much of it’s original grandeur and reopend in 2009 as The Roosevelt.

Today, the Sazerac is best enjoyed in many of New Orleans’ finest restaurants and bars, most notably the Sazerac Bar in the The Roosevelt, where celebrities, locals, and tourists enjoy the drink.

After absinthe was banned in the US in 1912, it was replaced by various anise-flavored liqueurs, most notably the locally produced Herbsaint, which first appeared in 1934.

In March 2008, Louisiana state senator Edwin R. Murray (D-New Orleans) filed Senate Bill 6 designating the Sazerac as Louisiana’s official state cocktail. The bill was defeated on April 8, 2008. After further debate, on June 23, 2008, the Louisiana Legislature agreed to proclaim the Sazerac as New Orleans’ official cocktail.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 sugar cube
2 1/2 ounces rye whisky
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters (optional)
absinthe
lemon peel

 

PREPARATION
In an Old-Fashioned glass (not a mixing glass; it’s part of the ritual), muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water. Add several small ice cubes and the rye whiskey, the Peychaud’s bitters, and the Angostura bitters (optional).

Stir well and strain into a second, chilled, Old-Fashioned glass in which you have rolled around a few drops of absinthe (no substitute really works, but you can try either a mix of Pernod and green Chartreuse, or Absente) until its inside is thoroughly coated, pouring off the excess.

Garnish with a twist of lemon peel (some insist that this be squeezed over the drink and discarded) Up to you

NOTE:

Use the good stuff, if you can find it: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (13 years old), or Sazerac Rye (18 years old).
The Angostura bitters is optional. It’s not in the original recipe, but it’s traditional nonetheless, and it’s not bad.

 

 

Links

How to make a pitcher of Sazarac

Drink Like A Man with Sazarac 

All about Absinthe

Esquire.com –  Sazerac Drink Recipe and Review

Neworleansonline – The Sazerac: America’s First Cocktail

 

 

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