Lukewarm apology: the headline is clickbait. This post is all about the whiskey, not the oil.

In my quest for the perfect Sazerac (as reported here and here) I’ve concluded that perfection is on the palate of the beholder. From this moment on I will refrain from declaring whether a particular offering is good, bad or indifferent. I’m a guidepost, not your conscience. Quid pro quo: Don’t tell me which King I should prefer: Albert, Freddie or BB.

Warning signs you’re gonna get a bad Sazerac

  • “Tell me what’s in it and I’ll make it for you.”
  • “Let me see if we have the … [peychaud bitters] … [absinthe]
  • (Scrunched face) “Sure”. (Furtive look toward the bar …)

The Road Goes on Forever …

… and the party never ends, says Robert Earl Keen. But mine did, at …

The Peabody Hotel.  Stayed there in Memphis when visiting scholar/athlete son at college. The wife and I love the hotel, even the duck march (once).  But – as I stab my beloved friend in the back – one of the most “memorable”. Don’t EVER accept one with ice – “too watery” doesn’t even begin to describe the horribleness.  Must have been a mistake by a rookie barkeep. Is this what it’s like to be tortured by Barry Manilow?

Ousie’s Table, Houston.  Citrusy, beachy, like Jimmy Buffet.  That’s because they use whiskey sour mix.  Redemption is good enough rye, but how can you tell when it’s buried? This might be a nice cocktail but it’s not a Sazerac.

Greenhouse Tavern. Generally, the farther from the Big Easy the less likely that the barkeep even knows what a Sazerac is, much less how to make one. In, of all places, Cleveland I found this fellow who only knew what it was but, with a flourish, asked for my favorite rye (I chose Bulleit). Heavy on the rye and light on simple syrup. Bitters and absinthe are right there but not in your face. It’s what you would expect from an establishment that offers “crunchy pig ears”.

My house. Not a public establishment, but the place where I live with my wife and our dog. Inconsistent. These things are hard to make well. I do know this: Absinthe has more punch that Pernod or Herbsaint.

Wondering about the Flood?  Ask Noah … How to squander an election you can’t lose? Seek you-know-who  … The Sazerac?  Go to the Big Easy, where you have …

Ralph’s on the Park. (where once stood General P.G.T Beauregard in marble) The bartender apologized for using Old Overholt.  No need to; it was fine for me.

Mr. B’s Bistro. They use Sazerac Rye. For an extra fifty cents you get Bulleit, which is a little bigger. Their Sazerac was more aromatic than most.

Except …

The Carousel in the Monteleone. Again, great hotel … lively bar, at 11 in the morning, 3 in the morning or any time in between. But they used some sort of cheap whiskey. No idea what it was. No ingredient mattered after that.

The Sazerac was invented in 1859 in New Orleans in an eponymous coffeehouse, where Cognac was the base spirit. We tried the Lumen in Dallas, who offers the original. Had to have two to compare. Cognac is silkier, Memphis-like. Rye has that whiskey bite that you need.

And one more musical interlude to celebrate our journey.