New Orleans Cocktail Recipe

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New Orleans Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The New Orleans cocktail, also known as the Sazerac, has a rich history dating back to the 19th century. It was first created in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is considered one of the oldest American cocktails. The drink was originally made with cognac, but over time, rye whiskey became the more popular choice.

  • The cocktail was named after the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of cognac, which was its original main ingredient.
  • The Sazerac was the signature drink of the Sazerac Coffee House, a popular New Orleans bar in the 1800s.
  • In 2008, the Louisiana Legislature declared the Sazerac as the official cocktail of New Orleans.

How New Orleans Tastes?

The New Orleans cocktail is a complex and bold drink with a slightly sweet, spicy, and herbal taste. The rye whiskey provides a strong and warming base, while the absinthe adds a touch of anise flavor. The Peychaud's bitters contribute a unique, slightly bitter and fruity taste, and the sugar cube adds a hint of sweetness.

Interesting facts about New Orleans

  • The Sazerac is often served in an Old Fashioned glass, which is also sometimes called a 'rocks' glass.
  • The use of a lemon peel as garnish is not only for aesthetics, but also to add a bright citrus aroma to the cocktail.
  • The Sazerac is sometimes referred to as the 'ancestor of all cocktails' due to its long history and influence on other drinks.


Rye WhiskeyRye whiskey is the backbone of this cocktail, delivering a spicy and robust flavor that is necessary to balance the sweetness from the sugar and the absinthe's floral notes. Using 2 oz provides the right strength without overpowering the other ingredients. Less whiskey would make the drink too sweet, and more could overwhelm the bitters and absinthe. A potential alternative could be bourbon for a sweeter, rounder profile.

Emma Rose

AbsintheAbsinthe adds a mysterious note of anise, which offers a complex counterpoint to the cocktail. At 0.25 oz, it's enough to perfume the drink without making it taste like mouthwash. Skipping absinthe would mean losing this herbal characteristic. If absinthe's not your thing, try pastis or an anise-flavored liqueur for a similar effect, but know that absinthe's 'green fairy' touch is pretty unique.

Alex Green

Peychaud's BittersThese specific bitters provide a slightly floral and anise-forward accent, crucial for the signature flavor of the cocktail. At three dashes, you hit the sweet spot of flavoring without turning the drink into a bitter bomb. Forget the bitters, and the cocktail loses its New Orleans soul. There's no true substitute, but in a pinch, Angostura bitters might do—they'll just bring a different spice profile to the party.

Mary Mitkina

Sugar CubeThe sugar cube is there to add just a touch of sweetness and to round out the edges of the rye and bitters. It's a delicate balance; too much sugar, and you're sipping syrup; too little, and the drink might be too sharp. If you don't have a cube, a teaspoon of simple syrup or granulated sugar could do the trick, but there's something ceremonious about muddling a cube, right?

Emma Rose

Lemon PeelA bright, zesty Lemon Peel garnish provides a fragrant citrus aroma which, when expressed over the drink, adds a fresh lift to the final sip. No lemon peel means missing out on that lovely, inviting nose and zesty zing. If needed, an orange peel could serve as an alternative, offering a sweeter, less tangy aroma.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make New Orleans Drink

  1. Chill an Old Fashioned glass by filling it with ice and water. Set aside.
  2. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube with the Peychaud's bitters.
  3. Add the rye whiskey to the mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well.
  4. Discard the ice and water from the chilled Old Fashioned glass.
  5. Add the absinthe to the glass, swirling it around to coat the inside of the glass. Discard any excess absinthe.
  6. Strain the whiskey mixture into the prepared glass.
  7. Express the lemon peel over the drink by holding it over the glass and giving it a good twist. Discard the peel or drop it into the drink as garnish.

Pro Tips

  • Always chill your glass before preparing the cocktail to keep the drink cold longer.
  • When expressing the lemon peel, make sure to twist it directly over the glass to capture all the essential oils.
  • For a different flavor profile, try using a different type of bitters.

Perfect Pairings

Perfect Pairings for a New Orleans Cocktail

Appetizers:- Oysters on the half shell: The anise flavor of absinthe and the spice of the rye whiskey can complement the brininess of fresh oysters.- Cajun-spiced nuts: The sweet and spicy nuts will contrast nicely with the complexity of the cocktail.

Main Courses:- Andouille sausage and shrimp jambalaya: This rich and spicy dish will stand up to the strong flavors in the cocktail.- Blackened fish: The char on the fish will match the depth of the rye whiskey.

Desserts:- Bread pudding with a whiskey sauce: Desserts featuring whiskey will echo the base spirit in the drink.- Lemon tart: The brightness of lemon in the tart will pair well with the lemon peel in the cocktail.

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What you could change in New Orleans

  • Bourbon can be used instead of rye whiskey for a sweeter taste.
  • If you don't have absinthe, Pernod or another anise-flavored liqueur can be used.
  • A simple syrup can be used in place of the sugar cube for easier mixing.

Explore all drinks starting with N here

And of course - twists🍹

Sazerac Twist: Bourbon Bonanza- Substitute the rye whiskey with bourbon for a smoother, sweeter twist.- Infuse the simple syrup with a cinnamon stick to add a warm note to the drink.**Recipe:**1. Swap the rye whiskey with 2 oz of bourbon.2. Muddle the cinnamon-infused simple syrup with the Peychaud's bitters instead of the sugar cube.3. Follow steps 3 through 7 from the original recipe.The result will have a rounder sweetness and a comforting cinnamon spice that pairs beautifully with the anise of the absinthe, perfect for a winter evening in New Orleans.

Nola Green Fairy: Cucumber Refresh- Add muddled cucumber for a refreshing take on this classic.- Replace the lemon peel with a thin cucumber slice for garnish.**Recipe:**1. Muddle 3-4 thin slices of cucumber with the sugar cube and Peychaud's bitters.2. Proceed with steps 3 through 7 from the original recipe, adding the cucumber slices instead of the lemon peel.This version will transport you to a breezy garden in the French Quarter, with a cooling and crisp cucumber essence melding seamlessly with the cocktail's traditional flavors.

Creole Coffee Charm- Introduce coffee liqueur for a caffeinated kick.- Garnish with a lemon twist and a few coffee beans for an aromatic treat.**Recipe:**1. Add 0.5 oz of coffee liqueur to the mix.2. Keep everything else the same but drop a few coffee beans into the glass as part of the garnish.This concoction brings the buzz of a New Orleans coffee house straight to your glass, blending the city's love for coffee with its iconic cocktail, giving you both pep and poise in every sip.

In case you forgot basics how to make New Orleans

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

The key to proper muddling is to crush the ingredients just enough to release their flavors and not overdo it. Over-muddling can result in a bitter taste, especially with herbs.

Learn everything on how to muddle

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on New Orleans

What are the potential health concerns when drinking Absinthe?

Absinthe has a high alcohol content, so consuming it in large quantities can lead to negative effects such as liver damage or alcohol poisoning. However, drinking it in moderation as part of a cocktail should not pose any significant health risks.

Can I use other types of citrus peel in this recipe?

Yes, you can experiment with different types of citrus peel such as grapefruit or lime. Each will give the cocktail a slightly different flavor and aroma.

What is the best type of rye whiskey for this cocktail?

While there is no definitive answer as it largely depends on personal preference, a high-quality, well-aged rye whiskey is generally preferred for its depth of flavor. That being said, the cocktail recipe does allow for some flexibility, so you can experiment with different brands to find one you like.

Where does Peychaud's Bitters come from?

Peychaud's Bitters originated in New Orleans and were created by Antoine Amédée Peychaud, a Creole apothecary from the 19th century who is also credited with creating the Sazerac cocktail.

Why is the glass chilled in the recipe?

Chilling the glass helps to keep the cocktail cold and refreshing, and also helps to express the flavours of the ingredients more fully.

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