Sazerac cocktails

What better way to beat the August heat than with a cocktail? Over the next few weeks we’ll explore the history of some (to borrow the title of Stanley Clisby Arthur’s 1937 book) “Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em.”

The granddaddy of them all is the Sazerac, introduced by New Orleans druggist Antoine Amedee Peychaud in 1838. He created it in his shop at 437 Royal St. using brandy and his homemade bitters.

The name Sazerac comes from the French brandy used, Sazerac de Forge et fils. Later, American Rye whiskey was substituted and a dash of absinthe was added.

In the 1850s, the Sazerac Coffee House at 116 Royal St. helped popularize the cocktail. In 1933, the Sazerac was bottled and marketed by the locally owned Sazerac Company, which also produces and sells the Sazerac brand of rye whiskey.

In 1949, the company sold the exclusive rights to the cocktail to the Roosevelt Hotel, which that year opened its Sazerac Bar. The Sazerac was named the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana Legislature in 2008.