My neighbor Hugh was the person who introduced me to the Sazerac cocktail. I was already a fan of rye cocktails (Manhattans in particular), and the subtle addition of licorice flavor was a intriguing and pleasant change. I liked it so much, that I decided to learn more about it.
The Sazerac is an old cocktail, sometimes considered the oldest known American cocktail. It dates to before the Civil War, and in 2008 it was named the official cocktail of New Orleans. Having grown up in Louisiana, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of it before, but I guess that makes sense since I left before I turned 21 and since my parents were more Jack/Crown and coke drinkers.
My favorite local cocktail place, Fort Defiance, has a refillable pump-based spray bottle that they keep filled with absinthe to mist the glasses with instead of swirling and pouring. If I were making these cocktails on a regular basis, I’d probably go that route, too. It’d be worth it just to not waste any more absinthe than necessary.
Herbsaint, Pernod, green Chartreuse, and Absente (or something similar) all make suitable substitutions for absinthe if you don’t have any. Basically, you just need something to add in the licorice and herb flavor to the rye.
Because of Hugh, I will always associate these drinks with before dinner cocktails on warm nights, long evenings spent with friends. Somehow it seems a fitting memory for a drink with such a long history.