January 4th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
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While you were scribbling down your 2013 resolutions, is there any chance you thought to include "Get really good at making cocktails"? Nope?

Well, the year is young and we're here to help: "we" being Turner's photography director Mark Hill and Greg Best, mixologist and partner in Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House and H&F Bottle Shop in Atlanta.

In a 62-33 vote, Louisiana House of Representatives declared the Sazerac to be New Orleans' official cocktail. It's a potent blend of rye whiskey, sugar, two kinds of bitters (including the city's native Peychaud's), lemon peel and a little hint of absinthe. For many years, that last one got in the way because it was banned in the United States. New Orleanians made do with Herbsaint - a kindred licorice-tasting pastis - until absinthe's legality was reinstated in 2007.

Even if you're a master home mixologist, there's always a little magic to be found in someone else's method. Follow Best's technique step-by-step in the gallery above and savor the spirit of New Orleans in your own home bar. We'll tackle even more classic sips in future installments.


Greg Best's Sazerac

You'll need:
– Equipment (if you don't have these exact items, don't sweat it - but they're worth having around your house)
Old-fashioned/rocks/lowball glass
Mixing glass (a pint glass with sloped sides)
Muddler (in a pinch, use a wooden spoon)
Bar spoon (a long-handled spoon that measures roughly a teaspoon)

– Ingredients
Sugar cube
Peychaud's bitters
Angostura bitters
Rye whiskey

Step 1: Chilling
Start by cracking ice with a muddler and filling a short glass with the cracked ice. Cracking the ice gives more surface area which results in a more even chill. Set this glass aside.

Step 2: Muddling
In a mixing glass, place a sugar cube and 1/2 ounce water and incorporate using a muddler. To this mixture, add 6 dashes of Peychaud's bitters and 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Next, use a standard jigger to measure out 2 ounces rye whiskey and add to the mix. Give this a quick dry stir (without ice) to make sure the sugar is fully dissolved.

Step 3: Rinsing
Back to the chilling glass. Add a bar spoon's worth of absinthe to the melting ice. Absinthe is very high in alcohol and adding it to the ice both brings down the alcohol and makes it sweeter. This is basically an absinthe frappé. Pour out this frappé mixture (a little something for the bar spirits) which will leave a coating on the inside of the glass to provide a subtle hint of a usually strong-flavored ingredient.

Step 4: Icing and straining
Add whole ice to the mixing glass and stir. This both dilutes the drink and brings the temperature down. Using a strainer, pour this into the chilled, absinthe-rinsed glass.

Step 5: Zesting, expressing and garnishing
Finally, carve a swath of lemon peel using a fruit peeler and run the peel skin-side down on your palm to open up all of the pores in the fruit containing the flavorful essential oils. Express the lemon oil over the surface of the drink by folding the peel in half lengthwise, then run the peel skin-side down around the rim of the glass to rub off any extra oils. Place the peel right-side up in the glass for a nice visual of the bright yellow peel against the classic red cocktail.

Got a cocktail you'd like to see made in detail? Let us know in the comments below and we'll see what we can shake up.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Lorelei Cainne

    With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of exclusive content I've either created myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization. Do you know any techniques to help prevent content from being stolen? I'd truly appreciate it.


    September 20, 2013 at 12:36 am |
  2. k

    there goes a good thing. ... now every idiot will be asking for one at the bar just to sound knowledgeable...

    January 11, 2013 at 1:14 am |
  3. eleven-ty

    I noticed one mistake in the slideshow
    Step 8 -the absinthe should be poured into the short glass AFTER the ice is discarded
    no need to chill the absinthe with ice if it's being discarded

    January 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  4. Snooty Pabst Fan


    January 10, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • eleven-ty

      its an incredible drink if you like strong flavors
      100 proof American Rye whiskey, and intense 90 proof absinthe
      This drink isn't for the weak as it packs a punch

      But if you drink mass produced watered down almost flavorless beer , yeah i can see how you wouldn't like drinks that are well made and with flavorful
      PBR = adjunct beer
      This cocktail has no adjunct
      makes sense to me

      January 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
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    January 10, 2013 at 6:16 am |
  6. BJ

    I had a Sazerac at Ye Ol' Absinthe Bar near Bourbon Street. It's a must if you like rye whiskey.

    January 9, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Stan

    Just got back from New Orleans, where I had my first Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel – a gorgeous, old art-deco style bar. This was a recommended activity in some visitor's guide I had seen. The trip to the bar is well worth it, even if the drink is not your favorite (I was OK with it; but I don't often drink cocktails without mixers, so it was a little strong!)

    January 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  8. Joeseph

    Andy made a way better sazzy than Greg. Good luck to him and congrats for getting out of the house of hopkins

    January 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  9. palintwit

    This would never fly south of the Mason-Dixon line. Down there they drink Everclear.

    January 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • JB

      It's the official cocktail of New Orleans. Last time I looked at a map, NOLA is well south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

      Holland House in East Nashville makes one tasty Sazerac.

      January 9, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Danno

      The mixologist is a partner in an Atlanta restaurant group.

      January 9, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  10. Mark Pruett

    Historically, you ought to be saying that an Old Fashioned is "pretty much a Sazerac", considering that the Sazerac long predated the Old Fashioned.

    And really, that base spirit, sugar, bitters (the lemon is a garnish) combination is just the classic cocktail formula set forth by, you guessed it, the Sazerac. A Manhattan is basically the same thing as well, just with different spirits and bitters.

    The Sazerac doesn't have to be so arcane either; you can use about a tsp of simple syrup or sugar, and 1/8 tsp absinthe/herbsaint if you don't want to fool with rinsing and muddling and all that. The important thing is getting the ratios of the ingredients correct, not how you mix them.

    January 8, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  11. Guest

    This is pretty much an "old fashioned."


    Yup same thing

    January 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Mark Hill

      This cocktail is nothing like an Old Fashion. Try it next time you are feeling like drinking
      something new.

      January 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  12. SixDegrees

    I like a Sazerac, and I've been drinking them for years, although it's hard to find a bartender who knows how to make one.

    It can't be a good thing that it is being promoted. Popularity has a bad habit of ruining cocktails – look what it's done to the martini and the daquiri, both of which have turned into obnoxiously sweet slurpees in the hands of the public.

    January 7, 2013 at 3:08 am |
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