“Sazerac”: (a) The bar in the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, (b) A wholly-owned subsidiary of the oil field company with the blue trucks, (c) Cyrano, the French guy with the big nose, (d) A drink comprising rye whiskey, simple syrup, Absinthe or Herbsaint or Pernod, Angostura bitters, and Peychaud’s bitters, (e) a and d.
After attending a party in Baton Rouge, we decamped to a local restaurant, LeCreole, for a nightcap. Having been raised in those environs, I’m no stranger to the local culture. Why not a Sazerac? So I ordered one, and it was good, and at that moment my quest began: To find the perfect Sazerac. Invented before the Civil War in New Orleans, the Sazerac is one of the oldest cocktails in America – kind of like an Old Fashioned without the mulled fruit.
The basics: Rye, I would say, is less distinctive than bourbon or Tennessee whiskey, so it benefits from additional ingredients. Too much Absinthe/Herbsaint/Pernod – all made from the herb annise – and the drink tastes like cough syrup; too much simple syrup and it’s treacly, without the bite necessary for an honest drink.
Disclaimer: Cocktails are like art and music – appreciation is subjective, and everyone is entitled to his opinion. But bad taste has its limits. I refuse to imitate my college frat brother who tried in vain to convince me that Grand Funk Railroad was as talented as the Stones. What follows is an effort to enlighten those who might want to venture off the beaten path mixology–wise. Here are the first four candidates (in no particular order):
Galatoire’s (Second block of Bourbon Street, N.O. – stand just inside the front door in your slacks and jacket on a Saturday afternoon and watch the “revelers” stumble up and down Bourbon Street. Quite entertaining) Leans more toward the whiskey. Traditional, meaning the balance was just where it needed to be.
Hermes (At the entrance to Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter): A lot like Galatoire’s, which means classic. Just what you would expect from a New Orleans bar.
Le Creole (way out Highland Road in Baton Rouge) Heavy on the simple syrup. Just right on the Herbsaint. The treat here was how much the waiter and bartender enjoyed their work, down to tossing the glass in the air to shake out the Pernod. True art.
Di Giulio Brothers (neighborhood restaurant on Perkins Road in B. R. – good food): A bit heavy on the whiskey. Not quite cold enough. Traditionally served neat, the barkeep has to get the glass very cold before pouring.
To be continued. A journey as important as this one is never complete.
Answer to the quiz: e, of course.