Chow Town

Classic cocktail Sazerac inspires the creation of The Oleander

Eric Schmidt pauses mid-drink, lemon peel twisted over the rim of an Old Fashioned glass.

“I love the Sazerac,” he says. “I feel it’s a cocktail that should be made with love, care, and tenderness.”

He adds that one reason he loves the Sazerac, and Sazerac-inspired cocktails, is that you can’t make an awesome quick one.

“You can taste the effort, if you will.”

For those of us still boning up on our cocktail history, the Sazerac is a classic cocktail that originated in New Orleans and was originally made from a special cognac and bitters mixed by a chemist, Antoine Peychaud. Or at least, that’s one story.

The history varies, but the basic drink remains the same, and here I defer to famed cocktail writer Jeffrey Morgenthaler:

Sazerac 1 teaspoon 2:1 simple syrup 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters 1 dash Angostura bitters
2 ounces rye whiskey

In a 16-ounce mixing glass, combine the ingredients. Fill mixing glass with ice and stir contents until well-chilled. Strain into absinthe-rinsed old fashioned glass. Twist lemon peel over drink to express oils, and discard peel. Serve.


Recently, Schmidt and fellow Remedy bartender Valdez Campos created a cocktail for their fall drinks menu that riffs on the classic Sazerac.

The link is the heavy aromatics induced by lemon peel and handmade bitters that include lavender, lemon basil and dried orange peel. Called The Oleander, named for the storied poisonous white flower, the drink pulls in Swedish gin, Cynar — notable for its artichoke name and flavor — and Cherry Heering for a memorable glass.

“The Sazerac is the ultimate cocktail. Whiskey, bitters, and spirits, that’s it,” says Schmidt, citing his love for Pre-Prohibition cocktails. “Classic doesn’t get simpler.”

Emily McIntyre is a travel and beverage writer who enjoys learning about cocktails and finds herself in bars and coffeehouses across the country on a regular basis.