The Cocktails of James Bond: The Sazerac

The Sazerac
A Sazerac in the Roosevelt Hotel’s Sazerac Bar (Photo by Joseph Darlington)
Friday, February 22, 2013 - 5:00pm

Live and Let Die, the 1973 James Bond film, finds our favorite secret agent in the Big Easy tracking a gangster known only as Mr. Big. Bond enters a bar called Fillet of Soul with his CIA counterpart, Felix Leiter, and asks for “bourbon, no ice.” Leiter changes the order, requesting two Sazeracs. “Where’s your sense of adventure?” he asks Bond. “This is New Orleans. Relax!”

Indeed. Our hero seems to have momentarily forgotten a long-standing tradition of drinking ‘locally,’ and what better way to do that in the French Quarter than with a one of the oldest-known American cocktails, the Sazerac?

This New Orleans’s variation on a classic cocktail derived its name from the brand of cognac that was the original prime ingredient. Today the Sazerac is typically made with rye whiskey, along with absinthe or Herbsaint, and its signature ingredient, Peychaud’s Bitters, a distinctive, aromatic bitters first created by Antoine Amédée Peychaud, a Creole apothecary.

The preparation of this cocktail is as distinctive as its ingredients. Next time you visit New Orleans, stop by the Roosevelt Hotel’s Sazerac Bar and observe the bartender as he rolls the Herbsaint around in the glass, giving this drink its distinguishing floral scents and candy flavors. Those scents and flavors, combined with the botanical quality of the bitters, complement the boldness of this drink, and transform it into a cocktail that will take you back to the grandeur of old New Orleans.

If anyone ever asked me to describe what purple, green and gold would taste like, I’d tell them to try a Sazerac.

PREPARING THE SAZERAC

1. Fill a stout rocks glass with ice and set it aside.

2. Fill your cocktail shaker (or a pint glass) about ¾ with ice.

3. Add 3 ounces of rye whiskey, 1.2 ounces of simple syrup and 3-4 dashes of Peycheuds bitters.

4. Empty the ice from your rocks glass.

5. Add a splash of Pernod to your rocks glass, move the glass around to roll the Pernod around the glass, until every inch of the glass is coated. Discard the Pernod.

6. Strain the cocktail into your rocks glass and enjoy.

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