The Sazerac

Tim McNally

Book cover for The Sazerac
Book cover for The Sazerac

The Sazerac

The Sazerac

Tim McNally

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The Sazerac ranks among the most famous drinks of a city famous for its drinking, but where did the classic New Orleans cocktail originate? Drinks journalist Tim McNally dives into the history of the Sazerac in a lively chronicle that ranges from a family-owned Cognac company in France, to an ingredient created by a New Orleans pharmacist, to a spirit once banned on three continents, to the renowned Playboy Clubs of the 1970s, which helped revitalize the enjoyment of complex, elegant mixed drinks. Among the many significant developments in the life of the Sazerac was its designation in 2008 as the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans.

When the Sazerac made its first appearance in the mid-1800s, the very concept of a cocktail (though not the word) was still new. Bartenders did not spend much time combining multiple ingredients for a single drink, and when they did, they felt no impulse to give it a name. But the Sazerac was unique. It combined a specific Cognac named Sazerac de Forge et Fils with Creole pharmacist Antoine Peychaud's much-beloved brand of bitters, plus a sugar cube--all of which were stirred and strained into a drink glass coated with absinthe. The making of the drink provided the comfort and enjoyment of a social ritual, and the Sazerac became both a delicious beverage in its own right and a marker of the city's unique alcohol culture.

With a spirited blend of history, cocktail trivia, and recipes, The Sazerac uncovers the true story of one of New Orleans's most long-lived and iconic beverages.

About the Author

Tim McNally is the wine-and-spirits editor and a feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; author of the weekly column "Happy Hour" at; and host of The Dine, Wine, and Spirits Show on New Orleans radio station WGSO.

Critical Reviews

Finally there's a great history worthy of a great cocktail. McNally's effort follows the Sazerac through its winding history--from spirit to spirit and bartender to bartender--until you'll want to order your own immediately.--Chris Hannah, bartender

Tim McNally brings years of exploration into the world of wine and spirits to bear in this slim volume, The Sazerac, but what captured me was his passion for the city where this iconic cocktail was created. McNally's lifelong love affair with the traditions of the city of New Orleans is the real story. The siren song of those traditions draws not just Americans, but everyone around the world who relishes the privilege of celebrating life with their fellow human beings, à votre santé avec un Sazerac!--Dale DeGroff, bartender and author of "The New Craft of the Cocktail"

Publishing Information

Publisher: LSU Press
Pub date: 2020-09-16
Length: 104 pages

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