Before I took this trip, my sister asked me if New Orleans had a signature drink and I told her it was the Hurricane. This might have been true several years ago but Hurricanes seem to have fallen out of favor since Katrina, for obvious reasons.
I didn’t know anything about the Sazerac.
The Sazerac is one of the oldest known American cocktails and it’s basically a whiskey cocktail (originally made with Sazerac brand whiskey) with a secret ingredient. Absinthe.
Absinthe has a magical haze around it, what with references like this one from Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Plus the reports of it driving people mad and the almost world-wide ban on account of it being potentially poisonous, a ban that stood for almost 100 years before it was again made legal in the US a couple of years ago.
That’s a lot of drama over a liquor. Or rather, a spirit. Anything with that kind of history is going to acquire mythical status whether or not it rightly deserves it.
The Sazerac has absinthe in it, along with whiskey and bitters, and since it’s the official drink of New Orleans, I had to try it. I wanted to drink the best one in town and where better place than the Sazerac bar in the Roosevelt Hotel?
The Sazerac bar is a gorgeous old-school gentlemen’s club type of place with lots of leather and wood, deep armchairs and a feeling of entitlement. Not cheap and not my normal thing but sort of delicious.
However, compared to the surroundings, I found the Sazerac underwhelming
And I like whiskey.
I might have liked the Sazerac better on the rocks, or colder, or perhaps with a touch more absinthe. It tasted mostly like whiskey, which meant I could have just ordered whiskey and gotten something I liked better. Or perhaps a different whiskey cocktail like this Old Fashioned that Ryan ordered…
But that said, I would go back and do it all over again because I love the story-telling symmetry of finishing my trip to New Orleans by drinking the official city cocktail in a beautiful old namesake bar.
Even if you don’t like whiskey (or alcohol), make a stop at the Sazerac bar. Rest your feet, order something cold and revel in the dim cool quiet of all that New Orleans history. It’s a great place to while away the hot afternoon and by the time you leave, you’ll be ready for dinner.
Tomorrow, a few last bits and pieces of my far-too-short trip to NOLA.
It sounds like you didn’t get a true Sazerac. It should have a distinct, almost medicinal taste, that you can’t forget once you’ve tasted it. The Vieux Carre is similar in taste.
We’ve been down every year for the past seven, and have ordered it throughout the Quarter and Downtown. Each one has been fairly consistent in taste. Ironically we haven’t been to the Sazerac, but were planning to go when we came down this year.
It kind of sounds like our stay at the Parker House in Boston where they invented both Parker House rolls and supposedly the Boston Cream Pie. The rolls were good, but the pie tasted nothing like what is traditionally considered that style.
Exactly right. It should have had more absinthe for that distinctive “medicinal” taste. I’ll try another one elsewhere next time. And to be fair, I imagine they can make a great Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar it’s just that mine wasn’t that great. I’d still recommend you visit there :)