The Louisiana State Legislature has named the Sazerac the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans during their recent legislative session. This classic cocktail was invented pre-American Civil War in New Orleans. The original Sazerac was made with Cognac and likely stayed that way until necessity dictated otherwise. Wine lovers, especially Old World wine lovers, know that France was hit hard with a pesky little vine louse known as phylloxera. This wiped out many of the great vineyards of Bordeaux, as well as neighboring Cognac. The region's total production was cut somewhere between 60 to 70%. Of course exports where hit the hardest so drinks calling for Cognac made in American bars in the 1880's were often compelled to substitute Whiskey for the absent Cognac. The Whiskey of choice was first Rye and then Bourbon and now it's primarily Rye again while never returning to its original spirit. It's a classic American cocktail and should be part of every bartender's, professional and amateur, repertoire.
2 ounces Quality Bourbon or Rye
1/2 ounce Absinthe
1 cube sugar
3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
You need no occasion at all for a well-made Sazerac as it's great in the swampy, muggy New Orleans summer days and the cold winter northern nights as well.
In an Old Fashioned glass pour in the Anise Liqueur and swirl it around the glass to coat all sides. Pour out any remaining Anise Liqueur. Drop in the sugar cube and add the Peychaud's Bitters along with a drop of water. Crush the sugar cube with the back of the spoon. Fill the glass three-quarters with ice and pour over the Bourbon or Rye. Stir gently and then add the lemon twist.
Not many variations of merit exist other than going back to the cocktail's original spirit, Cognac. A Cognac based Sazerac is a thing of beauty.
Source: Classic, BevX version