IMBIBE: The Sazerac

imbibeFAs trendy as mixology can be, it’s just as necessary to go back to our roots and hunker down with a glass of simple origins. Now let’s be clear, drinkers, there’s actually nothing simplistic about this cocktail – simple and easy are not the same thing. This drink has endured modifications and adulterations over the centuries. We’re here to revisit a bit of history with a clever bartender I’ve been lucky enough to run into while trolling the streets of Newport in search of good elixirs.

And now let me introduce Don Byrd, who currently cracks, stirs and shakes at the bar of Fluke restaurant in Newport:

“I started drinking Sazeracs in 2009, when Kevin (a bartender at Lili Marlene’s) made one for me. Over the years, I found it increasing difficult to find people who made a good one, as many had their own version. So I started researching, found the original recipe, and have been making it for about five months.”

What: The Sazerac

Go Get:

½ oz Absinthe


2 oz Rye whiskey (note: the original recipe used cognac until it was difficult to acquire)

3 dash Peychaud Bitters

1 tsp sugar or 1/2 oz simple syrup

Rocks glass


Rinse an old-fashioned glass with 1/2 oz Absinthe, add cracked ice to chill, and let it sit.

Stir the Rye, bitters and sugar or simple syrup (in a separate glass or beaker) over ice for 15 to 20 seconds.

Pour out Absinthe and pour drink into glass.

Take a lemon peel, twist it over the cocktail, quickly wipe around the glass once, and drop it into the finished cocktail.

You’ll find this drink a lovely hue, with spicy hints of absinthe, rye, and citrus — just what you’d want to drink at this time of year (or almost anytime of year). When asked about modern versus pre-prohibition drinks, Don thoughtfully said, “The time and creativity they put into each cocktail is astounding. Where would the industry be without this part of history?”

So give thanks this holiday for a little history in your glass.

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