Mastering the Sazerac With St. John Frizell


“I realized the right way to be an grownup in New Orleans,” says St. John Frizell, a graduate of Tulane College. “And the Sazerac was a very refined, native’s option to order on the time.”

The bracing mixture of rye, absinthe, sugar and bitters was one of many first cocktails that Frizell, proprietor of Brooklyn’s Fort Defiance and companion within the soon-to-open Gage & Tollner, realized to make again in 2006 whereas tending bar at The Good Fork. (House owners Ben Schneider and Sohui Kim are additionally his companions at Gage & Tollner.)

“It’s at all times been my favourite drink to arrange, as a result of there’s ritual to it,” says Frizell. “Icing down the glass is a part of that—and units a superb Sazerac other than a nasty one, for my part.”

The unique system of the cocktail, which was probably invented at New Orleans’ the Sazerac Home within the mid-19th century, stays the topic of debate, with some citing rye as the right base spirit and others Cognac. (The latter notion has largely been debunked by historian David Wondrich, who asserts that the drink didn’t achieve extensive acceptance till the 1890s and was at all times made with rye.)

For the bottom, Frizell, a purist, prefers Previous Overholt, a extensively out there and reasonably priced rye. He cites as its major attraction its mellow, earthy cocoa profile, which works significantly effectively together with absinthe. “It’s a bit controversial, as a result of it’s solely 80 proof, however to me, utilizing a better proof rye makes for a too-hot cocktail—it’s not like there’s ice to dilute it,” he says, referring to the Sazerac’s conventional composition, which omits ice from the serving glass. In his model, Frizell combines 2 ounces of Previous Overholt, and a scant quarter ounce of straightforward syrup. “Muddling a sugar dice is cute and old-timey, however easy means that you can management the extent of sweetness,” he says. “It additionally assures there’s by no means somewhat pile of sugar on the backside of the drink.”

Whereas residing in New Orleans, Frizell discovered himself captivated by the specter of absinthe. “Any impossible-to-procure spirit is catnip to a bartender,” he says. On the time, Herbsaint—the regionally made anise-forward liqueur, invented in 1934—was the default substitute for absinthe, which was banned from 1912 to 2007 for its alleged psychoactive properties. “After I began bartending, absinthe was nonetheless extensively unavailable, together with the time I labored at Pegu [Club] below Audrey Saunders. She used Pernod [pastis], moderately than Herbsaint.” To this present day, Frizell nonetheless makes use of Pernod, however opts for his or her higher-proof absinthe.

Slightly than rinsing a rocks glass with the absinthe, Frizell makes use of a Misto atomizer (“Make sure to pump it first, to pressurize it,” he notes) to mist the glass earlier than chilling it with liquid nitrogen. “When friends scent that anise, it makes them flip round and ask questions. It whets their urge for food to order a Sazerac.”

For the bitters element, Frizell provides two dashes of Peychaud’s (“as a result of it’s custom”) and a splash of Angostura, which brings out the baking spice notes within the rye, one thing he additionally picked up from Saunders. “A Sazerac shouldn’t be overloaded with bitters, although,” says Frizell. “It must be clean and delicately nuanced.”

After stirring and straining the drink into a calming rocks glass, Frizell expresses a lemon peel into the cocktail. The swath of zest ought to at all times be discarded, he says, to keep away from upsetting the stability of the fragile drink. “To me, the Sazerac speaks for itself.”

St. John Frizell’s Sazerac


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