Bourbon Sazerac

The Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. Usually made with rye whiskey, a bourbon Sazerac combines bourbon, absinthe and bitters.

two bourbon Sazeracs with a tumbler and bottles of spirits in the background

It may surprise you that the Hurricane isn’t the official cocktail of New Orleans. It’s the Sazerac. Known known as America’s oldest cocktail, its origins predate the Civil War. The Sazerac is named for the brand of cognac that used to serve as the cocktail’s main ingredient. Today, the Sazerac is made with either cognac, rye whiskey or bourbon, combined with absinthe, sugar, and bitters. Since bourbon has long been my spirit of choice, I couldn’t help but give this cocktail a try.

collage of ingredients needed to make a bourbon Sazerac

Absinthe was once Banned in the U.S.

Absinthe is an green, anise-flavored spirit derived from several herbs, including wormwood. Wormwood has been used for thousands of years to treat digestive problems. However, it contains a compound known as thujone, which was once believed to be toxic and/or cause hallucinations if consumed in high doses. In 1912, absinthe was banned in the United States and it would stay that way for almost 100 years. Finally in 2007, the FDA approved the re-legalization of absinthe in the U.S. as long as it was thujone-free.

If you have trouble locating absinthe, look for something called Herbsaint or Pernod. Both are abinsthe substitutes that were introduced during the ban.

bottle of absinthe on a marble background

First, Make a Simple Syrup

Many cocktails call for an ingredient known as simple syrup to sweeten the drink. It’s nothing more than equal parts sugar dissolved in water. Simply heat some water in a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Add the same amount of sugar to the water and stir until its dissolved. Allow the simple syrup to cool completely before adding it to your cocktail. When stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, simple syrup will keep for 3-4 weeks.

How to Make a Bourbon Sazerac

Our 1/2 ounce of absinthe into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Swirl the absinthe around, coating the bottom and the sides of the glass. Discard the excess absinthe.

In a tumbler filled with ice, add two ounces of bourbon, 1/4 ounce of simple syrup and two dashes of bitters. Stir the mixture, then strain the liquid into the absinthe-rinsed glass. Garnish the drink with a sliced lemon peel.

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two old fashioned glasses of bourbon sazerac on a dark wooden background

Bourbon Sazerac

The Sazerac is the official cocktail of New Orleans. Usually made with rye whiskey, a bourbon Sazerac combines bourbon, absinthe and bitters.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beverages
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 cocktail
Calories: 147kcal
Author: Lisa B.


For the simple syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

For the bourbon sazerac:

  • 1/2 ounce Absinthe
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Sliced lemon peel


For the simple syrup:

  • Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Allow the simple syrup to cool before using.

For the bourbon sazerac:

  • Pour the Absinthe into an old-fashioned glass. Roll the Absinthe around the glass to coat the bottom and sides, then dump the excess.
  • Add bourbon, simple syrup and bitters in an ice-filled tumbler.
  • Stir, then strain into the absinthe-rinsed glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon peel. Serve without ice.


Serving: 1cocktail | Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.7g | Potassium: 0.7mg | Sugar: 2.7g

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  1. Angostura bitters?!?

    Peychaud’s is the correct bitters for a Sazerac.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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