When in New Orleans, you must try the Sazerac

There’s a great misconception that grips visitors to The 504 that they must be running from their hotel, hostel, guest house or tent underneath the Claiborne Overpass on Tulane Avenue (without passing Geaux), straight to Pat O’Brien’s to have its signature drink, The Hurricane. Now, Rev ain’t got nothing against no Hurricanes – other than that one b-i-t-c-h named Katrina. More folks than Methuselah had years have found themselves paying bent-over tribute to the porcelain idol thanks to the drink’s potent and (some say sickly) sweet combination of high octane liquor and red fruity punch.

But Brothers and Sisters, Rev knows that what we have here is a group of cigar smokers coming to town, and he can’t in good conscience recommend you try pairing that tall drink of liquid candy with any cigar at all much less one that any self-respecting herfer is going to be igniting on vacation or any other time. For accompanying ANY smoke, The Rev is recommending you try the (by proclamation) Official Cocktail of New Orleans (see Benjamin Button and James Bond in Live and Let Die): The Sazerac.

A little word of warning before we proceed: New Orleans is the home of the professional drinker, and The Sazerac is NOT a beverage anyone in their right mind will be knocking back like some kind of frozen daiquiri or Hansen’s snowball. Enjoying more than 2-3 of these cocktails in a single sitting is generally not advised.

This is an elegant sipping drink made with 1 cube of sugar, 1 1/2 ounces of Rye Whiskey, 1/4 ounce of Absinthe, 3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters and a lemon peel. Concocted by a pharmacist before the turn of the civil war, this drink produces one of the most complex taste experiences your palate will ever enjoy – subtle hints of oak, anise, spice, honey, lemon and bitters intermingle in your mouth like the pieces of a complex jazz interpretation.

The Sazerac, like the martini, can also be fine-tuned to the personal tastes of the drinker. Some folks, who are particularly history-minded, ask for their Sazeracs to be made with cognac, which until 1870 was the base liquor for the beverage. Rye became the standard for Sazeracs around that time after the phlyoxxera epidemic in Europe wiped out France’s grape crops for many years making cognac unavailable. Many people add a “half-splash” of Angostura bitters to their Sazeracs in addition to the traditional dose of Peychaud’s bitters; a variation that is almost universally scoffed is the substitution of bourbon for the traditional rye.  Bourbon, especially Makers Mark, while one of the Rev’s favorite drinks, is for making mint juleps, not Sazeracs.

The Sazerac is the perfect accompaniment to any cigar, but especially one that is medium to full-bodied since this drink has a very full character that overwhelms milder cigars (and you can smoke one as you sit outside at The Columns Bar on St. Charles where you can puff away an evening watching the streetcars lazily carry people downtown and back).  The Rev especially enjoys two cigars in particular with his Sazerac: The CAO Italia Novella, because it reflects more accurately the size of cigar that would’ve been smoked when the Sazerac came into being, and the Cohiba XV 645, because is also a full-bodied smoke and properly sized to enjoy with a Sazerac.

Believe The Rev when he tells you to skip the Hurricane, The Hand Grenade, The Flaming Dr. Pepper or any other pretender to the NOLa Cocktail Throne…put your faith in the Sazerac brothers and sisters. You will not be disappointed.

See how a Sazerac is made!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfhaxhyb46e
Watch this video of New Orleans bartender, Chris McMillian, making a Sazerac. If you want Chris to mix yours, he’s now tending at The Lobby Bar in the Renaissance Pere Marquette in downtown New Orleans.  (_[ca]__{{{

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Visit Reverend Meyn’s NOLa Church of Smokes at SocialCigar.com.

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor at cigaradvisor.com

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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