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Cheers! Sazerac with a Michigan wry(e) twist

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

  Sazerac recipe

1/4 oz. absinthe 

2 oz rye whiskey

1/4 oz. simple syrup

3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

lemon peel garnish

Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with the absinthe. In a mixing cup, add ice, rye whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters.  Stir the ingredients until well chilled. Strain the drink into the glass. Add the Lemon peel for garnish.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen stirring the ingredients of a Sazerac using a Michigan rye whiskey.

Invented in the 1830s in New Orleans. Up until the 1870s, it was made with cognac and a few craft cocktail bars offer that alternative, but today it’s made with rye whiskey.

For our Michigan Sazerac, Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings chose Journeyman Distillery’s Last Feather Rye whiskey. The rye has Chicago origins, but is now produced in Three Oaks, Michigan. According to Journeyman’s website, “The 90-proof whiskey is made from a blend of Midwestern rye and wheat with just a touch of barley added to round out the flavor.”

The Sazerac is a simple cocktail. “It’s all about technique,” Coxen explains. You want to make sure you’ve got a glass that’s chilled in advance before you rinse it with absinthe. Coxen actually uses a spray atomizer to coat the inside of the glass.

Some recipes call for muddling a sugar cube soaked in bitters and a splash of water to sweeten the drink. Simple syrup does the same thing and the drink will taste no different.

Don’t shake a Sazerac. Stir it.

Finally, don’t forget the lemon peel garnish. It’s very important. There’s something magical about the mingling of the licorice aroma of the absinthe and the scent of the lemon peel and its expressed oils. Some bartenders throw away the peel after expressing the oils into the drink. Leave it in. It’s pretty and it smells good.


Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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