Sara Essex Bradley
In back, Taylor Bird Sazerac from SoBou in New Orleans
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Taylor Bird Sazerac

SoBou, New Orleans, Abigail Gullo / December 2012

Sewell Taylor was the man who first imported Sazerac brand Cognac to New Orleans, and Aaron Bird was his friend, who ran the Exchange Place Coffee House (what the bars in New Orleans in the mid-1800s were called). Together with their friend, Antoine Peychaud, they created a marketing campaign and invented this drink to help sell Taylor’s Sazerac. Well, it became such a hit that Bird renamed his bar the Sazerac Coffee House, and the drink became the official cocktail of Louisiana. They only started using rye when Cognac became impossible to import during the phylloxera epidemic in Europe that destroyed all the grapevines. This drink is my homage to those times when the Cognac was running out, and perhaps mixologists added rye to stretch the precious brandy out.

  • 1 oz. Cognac (I use Pierre Ferrand 1840)
  • 1 oz. rye whiskey
  • barspoon of Steen’s cane syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 4 dashes Peyhauds’ Bitters
  • absinthe rinse on the chilled Sazerac glass
  • garnish: lemon twist

Stir over cracked ice and strain into a chilled rocks glass that has been rinsed with absinthe. Garnish with a lemon twist whose oils have been expressed out over the drink.