Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thirsty Thursday series celebrates the Sazerac

It’s only fitting that the first installment of the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s “Thirsty Thursday” series features the Sazerac. The three main ingredients of this cocktail—Sazerac Rye Whiskey, Herbsaint and Peychaud Bitters—have deep roots in the tradition and culture of New Orleans.

The Sazerac is a remarkably simple cocktail and was created in New Orleans. It has been credited to Antoine Peychaud, a Creole apothecary who hailed from the West Indies and lived in New Orleans in the 1800s.

According to legend, Peychaud served his drink in the large end of an egg cup that in French was a coquetier. The American pronunciation of coquetier is cocktail, however evidence indicates that the cocktail predates Peychaud’s creation.

Vintage Herbsaint Ad calls for Herbsaint when Absinthe
is called for following U.S. Government ban dues to
absinthe health concerns.
May 12 is the birthday of J. Marion Legendre, an apothecary-turned-entrepreneur and the creator of the anise-flavored liqueur brand Herbsaint—a staple in the Sazerac, but only by a rinse of the glass. Legendre learned about absinthe and pastis while stationed in France during WWI. Upon his return to New Orleans after the war, he secretly made absinthe in his Uptown home during Prohibition.

His launch of Legendre Absinthe was a dream come true for him. Sadly though, just months after launching his product, the U.S. Government forced him to remove the word absinthe from his brand name amid concerns that absinthe could have detrimental effects on people’s health. Legendre quickly re-named his product Herbsaint and launched an aggressive marketing campaign that called on people to “Drink Herbsaint Wherever Absinthe is Called For.”
The ingredients for a Sazerac cocktail are Sazerac Rye,
Herbsaint, Peychaud's bitters, simple syrup and lemon!
To commemorate Legendre’s birthday (a little early), we broke out the Sazerac and Herbsaint and invited a few friends for a tasting.

We referenced the Imbibe magazine recipe which calls for:

2 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Absinthe or Herbsaint
Ice cubes
Tools: mixing glass, barspoon, strainer
Glass: cocktail or rocks
Garnish: lemon twist

Give chilled glass an absinthe or Herbsaint rinse and set aside. Stir other ingredients in a mixing glass, strain into the chilled glass and garnish.

We followed the recipe to the letter and it was a perfect example of the classic cocktail.

In 2008, the Sazerac was named the “Official Cocktail of New Orleans” by the Louisiana Legislature. Tales of the Cocktail Founder Ann Tuennerman led the effort working with Senator Ed Murray and the original bill sought to have it deemed the official cocktail of Louisiana. However, not everyone in our state’s legislative body felt that was represented of their area of the state and the bill was amended several times until it passed just days before the Legislative Session closed for the year.

To raise awareness of the newly deemed official cocktail status, Tuennerman launched the Sazerac Academies designed to educate industry professionals and enthusiasts alike. Paired with a meal during the history lesson, guests of the sessions had the opportunity to make their own Sazerac as guided by a notable bartending professional.

Upon completion, guests were presented with a certificate acknowledging their accomplishment and were provided a souvenir print outlining the anatomy of this now ever popular creation. 
On May 12, Herbsaint will hosta birthday celebration to pay tribute to Legendre at the Sazerac Bar, located inside the Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel from 1:30-3 p.m. Guests can enjoy Herbsaint Frappes and a special birthday cake cutting, as well as a chance to view historical photographs and artifacts from Herbsaint's storied past.

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