Cocktail Couture: the Smoked Sazerac!

Smoked Sazerac, Rye, Peychaud's bitters, absinthe, The River Bar, Cocktail Couture

Although 10:29pm today officially marks the start of Fall, for some reason I’ve been craving it for the past month. From drinking (way too many) Pumpkin Spice Lattes to coming up with a list of 5 Fabulous Things to Do this Fall – for some reason I can’t get this season off my mind. I recently came across a cocktail that’s further perpetuating my fascination with Fall, the Smoked Sazerac is a riff on the traditional Sazerac, largely considered America’s oldest cocktail, which originated in New Orleans in the 19th century. We discovered this delicious drink during a recent visit to The Cloister at Sea Island in Southeast Georgia, one of our favorite vacation spots.

Every time we visit, we have dinner at the River Bar the night we arrive. Inspired by a French brasserie, the River Bar overlooks the Black Banks River on the west side of Sea Island and makes a wonderful spot for watching the sunset…generally with cocktail in hand. This time the Smoked Sazerac caught Steve’s eye and underneath the list of ingredients was an asterisk followed by the caveat, “This cocktail requires extended time for production”…and for good reason!

Our bartender Kelly kindly took us through each step of making this fabulous drink which was worth every minute of preparation time. The traditional Sazerac ingredients of rye, absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters are enhanced by the Fall-inspired flavors of ginger cinnamon syrup and smoke from cherry wood chips. The wood chips are ignited at the bar by flaming absinthe and the resulting smoke is captured in a chilled old-fashioned glass the drink is served from.

If you’re entertaining this season or just feel like indulging, this drink is well worth the effort and will surely put you and/or your guests in the Fall spirit(s)! I sincerely hope you enjoy our latest edition of Cocktail Couture, to see past installments of this segment, please click here.

So what’s your favorite cocktail to enjoy in the Fall? Do tell!





Smoked Sazerac
Makes one drink

3 ounces Bulleit Rye
1 ounce ginger syrup*
1/2 ounce of Vieux Carré Absinthe
A couple dashes of Peychaud’s bitter or to taste
Orange peel for garnish

Chill an old-fashioned glass by filling it with ice and setting is aside while you prepare the rest of the drink. In another glass add the ginger syrup and a few dashes of the Peychaud’s bitters and stir to combine. Then add the rye and a few ice cubes to the glass with the bitters and ginger syrup, stir to combine.

Place the cherrywood chips in a firesafe bowl. Fill a jigger with approximately 1/2 ounce of absinthe and using a match or kitchen torch, ignite the absinthe. Pour the flaming absinthe over the cherry wood chips to ignite. Empty the ice from the first glass and invert it over the burning wood chips, filling the glass with smoke. Once it’s filled with smoke, carefully turn it right side up and very slowly strain the rye, ginger syrup and bitters mixture into it. Place the orange peel on the burning cherry wood chips for a few seconds until the edges are lightly charred, garnish the drink with it and serve.

*Ginger Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 – 2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 cinnamon stick

Heat sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the chopped ginger and cinnamon stick to the sugar mixture and bring to a boil then remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain mixture through a sieve into an airtight container and discard ginger and cinnamon. Syrup will keep for up to one month.

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