There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned cocktail (of which, of course, an Old Fashioned is a great example ;)). Booze, sugar, and bitters, with maybe a twist and/or a teeny splash of an amaro or liqueur for interest. Having one in hand can make everything shinier, and the worst day a little bit better. The Sazerac is a favorite of ours (we used it for a Peychaud’s comparison a few months ago), and this week we’re looking at a few cocktails we’ve put together using it as an inspiration.
The classic Sazerac is rye or cognac, a touch of simple, and Peychaud’s bitters, with a absinthe rinse and a lemon twist. For our first iteration on the theme, we kept the exact same template, but subbed in different ingredients for a dry cocktail with a strong apple flavor.
- 2 1/2 oz Calvados
- 1 tsp simple syrup
- 2 dashes honeyed apricot & smoked hickory bitters
- 1 tsp apple liqueur rinse (We used the Spiritopia, which has a really nice sweet-sour balance, like concentrated cider)
Stir first 3 ingredients with ice. Rinse glass with apple liqueur. Strain drink into glass. Garnish with a small orange twist. Cheers!
- Nose: Dry, almost wine-y apple. Hints of barrel wood, orange, smoke. Very pleasant apple-y nose, but not sweet.
- Palate: Orange and a little bit of sweet-tart, boiled-down cider to start. Mid-palate is dry apple and barrel notes, with a hint of smoked hickory. Finish is interesting, very dry with light hickory flavor, apple skins, little bit of spice, and a hint of orange peel. A touch of slate from the Calvados combined with the charcoal from the bitters draws a line of minerality throughout the whole drink. Aftertaste is honeyed apricot.
Next up, we moved to aged rum for the base spirit, and dropped the twist. As an aside, it is worth it to break out an upper shelf bottle for these drinks; since they are so spirit-forward, the quality of the booze makes a big difference.
- 2 1/2 oz 20-21 year old rum (We went with the El Dorado 21)
- 1 tsp simple syrup
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- absinthe rinse
Rinse glass with absinth. Stir other ingredients with ice. Strain into glass. Enjoy!
- Nose: Really lovely nose. Root beer, cedar, musk, red fruit, anise, cinnamon, sweet vanilla, and clove.
- Palate: Anise, cedar and clove right on the front. Mid-palate is barrel wood, vanilla, and intense earthy/loamy notes. Finish is bitter, with more anise, root beer, clove and coffee. Aftertaste is cedar and mild bitterness that lingers on the middle of the tongue.
Finally, we moved back to home ground with rye as the base spirit, simply using different liqueur and citrus for the wash and bitters to pivot from the original.
- 2 oz high proof rye (we used Willetts 2 year)
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura
- Cointreau wash
Stir first 3 ingredients with ice. Wash glass with Cointreau. Strain drink into glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
- Nose: Lemon, rye grain, rich herbal green aromatics like celery and cucumber skin, hint of orange.
- Palate: For a glass of really strong booze, it is surprising smooth. Start is rye grain, cucumber skin and barrel notes. Mid-palate is baking spice, sweet oak, and orange. Finish is lemon, black pepper, and hints of orange and celery. Aftertaste is strong rye spice with orange and lemon.
As you can see, you can put together a really lovely drink with just a handful of ingredients, which is very happy-making when you’ve had a long day and just don’t have the stamina to go tiki ;). Along with martini alternatives, these are great recipes to keep in your back pocket for those times. We hope you’ll relieve your next dreary Tuesday with one. Cheers!