We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Linda's Sazerac Cocktail

Adventures in Herbalism by Linda

"When the poet's pain is soothed by a liquid jewel held in the sacred chalice, upon which rests the pierced spoon, the crystal sweetness, icy streams trickle down. The darkest forest melts into an open meadow. Waves of green seduce. Sanity surrendered, the soul spirals toward the murky depths, wherin lies the beautiful madness—absinthe." 
                                  ~From the poem, Rimbaud's Poison by Peggy Amond


   Seared is a local restaurant in Petaluma that I have discovered of late. Recently, their mixologist, Kevin, taught me how to make a proper Sazerac on my birthday this past July. I subsequently adjusted the ingredients to my taste and replaced the simple syrup in Kevin's cocktail with my honey simple syrup which allows this Sazerac to be considered to be Paleo—at least by me. I also made another change based on the recommendation of my work friends Greg and Hayden who are both young hipsters from the East Bay. Greg loves a good Sazerac, and he introduced me to the cocktail to begin with about a year ago. Hayden, who I work with now, recently recommended that I make the cocktail with High West Whiskey for Michelle's visit last week, which makes the drink extra smooth, but is more costly than a less expensive whiskey like Bulleit.  Not to worry if you don't want to spring for the premium whiskey, it will still taste great made with Bulleit Rye. Both Greg and Hayden recommend misting the cocktail glass with absinthe before pouring the final chilled liquid into it—a trick that they learned from a bar in Oakland.
   My learning to make a Sazerac at home that I was really happy with was a journey that enjoyably involved some imbibing along the way at a few of my local restaurants. Check out our first ever Salvation Sisters's video production shared below. In it, I will demonstrate the process for making a delicious Sazerac, and our iPhone video makes Michelle and I laugh every time we watch our very amateur premier production. It would seem that every new process involves a large learning curve—hope you find it instructive and funny, too, in spite of our blunders. And yes— it is my washing machine that you hear in the background (oops!)


Salvation Sisters Sazerac Cocktail from Linda Townsend on Vimeo.


A little history on the Sazerac from askmen:

   The Sazerac was invented by an apothecary named Antoine Amedee Peychaud in New Orleans in the 1830s as a remedy for a variety of his customers’ ailments. The original formula included a concoction called Peychaud’s Bitters, made mostly of brandy, sugar and water. Over the next two decades, the Sazerac grew in popularity and was officially branded, reportedly becoming the first cocktail invented in America.
   The cocktail was named after Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils, the imported cognac originally used for the cocktail. To accommodate American tastes and because of the difficulty of obtaining cognac, the recipe was later altered to replace the French brandy with American rye whisky, and a dash of absinthe was added. Until 2007, absinthe was illegal in the United States, and it’s still hard to find. An anise liqueur like Pernod will do the trick if you can’t find the real thing, but if you want to add polish to your Sazerac, go with the good stuff. Lucid and K├╝bler are two brands worth noting. A bottle might set you back $50 or $60, but a little goes a long way.


   Being an herbalist, I was very intrigued by the history of the Sazerac because it was invented by an apothecary, which in those days was largely an herbalist. Most medicines in those times were made from plants. The legendary absinthe, which is a spirit that is flavored by botanicals and culinary herbs, the most famous of these being Artemisia absinthium (a.k.a "grand wormwood"). Absinthe gained quite a reputation during the late 19th and early 20th century France—particularly among Parisians. The consumption of absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists, however the boho set at this time were advocates. Ernest Hemingway, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley, Erik Satie, Alfred Jarry and many others—so basically anyone who was ever cool—were all known to drink absinthe.


   Bitters are another herbalist's favorite. This herbal extraction is used in traditional herbalism to stimulate digestion by increasing the production of bile. I found an interesting link on one of my favorite websites about the history of bitters, why they are important to health, and how they improve digestion, besides adding flavor. For more on the subject click here. If you would like to try a hand at making your own bitters, Michelle and I are fans of a book called Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons.
  As I mentioned earlier, Greg and Hayden frequent a bar in the East Bay of Northern California where they learned to use an atomizer to coat the cocktail glass with absinthe instead of pouring in absinthe into the ice of the traditional method. I have created my own process in the making of the cocktail (combining the two processes), and I would serve mine up against any. To be accurate, I haven't tried all that many, but I would say that I think it is good as those I have tried in outings to my local restaurants. In any case, if you haven't tried the Sazerac, we sisters think it's a perfect choice for your next cocktail hour.


Linda's "Paleo" Sazerac Cocktail
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