Food & Drink

Sazerac perfect for after the Thanksgiving meal

Considered one of the oldest American cocktails (circa 1830), the Sazerac is a sublime digestif that pairs licorice-flavored absinthe with American rye whiskey, and a great way to settle that post-Thankgiving bloat.
Considered one of the oldest American cocktails (circa 1830), the Sazerac is a sublime digestif that pairs licorice-flavored absinthe with American rye whiskey, and a great way to settle that post-Thankgiving bloat.

You know its coming. It’s inescapable this time of year. It is discomforting, yet oddly satisfying. In fact, it toes the line between complete culinary bliss and sheer culinary regret.

It’s the well-known Thanksgiving bloat.

Why do Americans continue to annually convene around the dinner table, fork and knife in hand, and gorge themselves on turkey and a baker’s dozen of side dishes? Tradition, of course. And that’s perfectly acceptable to all but your stomach. Obviously your tummy loves food, but all the trimmings takes it a bit over the top. The result is an upset stomach, and of course, all the “trimmings” that come with that.

Someone recently asked me what the best after-Thanksgiving meal drink is. I pointedly remarked, “the Sazerac, no question.”

For those familiar with bitters, you know that they were first created to help in digestion (among other snake-oil-salesman type things). And they actually do help. Most Americans would rather take a synthetic digestive aid when their tummy is rumbling, but way before modern pharmaceuticals, there was bitters.

The Sazerac, which was originally crafted by Antoine Peychaud, an early 18th century pharmacist in New Orleans, created the medicinal elixir to settle the stomach. This employed Peychaud’s own blend of herbal bitters, along with a healthy dose of cognac. Since then, the recipe switched to rye whiskey, after a nasty blight that destroyed French grapes in the early 19th century.

For those with limited palates, the Sazerac isn’t going to be a drink that tastes great (bitter, herbal, licorice). However, if you disregard the flavor — bartenders actually love this concoction regardless of the time of year — you and your tummy will enjoy its benefits. That Thanksgiving bloat will surely disappear after downing this magical cocktail just prior to the resulting tryptophan-induced coma.

So rather than drink those sugary, creamy autumn all-spice cocktails that you will be tempted with this holiday, pack the ingredients of a Sazerac to this year’s feast. You will be a gastronomical savior. Plus, you will decrease the downtime between turkey and all the trimmings, and those delicious turkey sandwiches of which you crave. Bon appetit!

Kevin Hopper enjoys giving thanks and Thanksgiving, but would rather not deal with the gastronomical aftermath. Find him crafting Sazeracs the day after Turkey Day at Capitol Bar on west State Street.

Sazerac

Absinthe or Herbsaint rinse (Pernod or Ricard affordable options)

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1/2 ounces simple syrup

2 ounces rye whiskey (George Dickel or Rittenhouse work well)

Lemon peel expression

Chill an Old-Fashioned (or rocks) glass with ice and water. Once chilled, pour out the ice and water and add absinthe. Swirl inside the glass. Set aside. In a mixing glass, add both bitters and simple syrup. Stir. Add the rye whiskey, fill with ice and stir for 30 seconds until cold. Discard the excess absinthe in the Old-Fashioned glass and strain the cocktail mixture into the prepared glass. Take the lemon peel and twist the oils over the surface of the drink. Then press the outside of the rind around the rim of the glass. Discard or use as a garnish. Drink. Sleep. Wake up. Make a turkey sandwich. Give thanks that your stomach has been settled.

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