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Recipes, Drinks & Cocktails

Espresso Infused Sazeracs

Get in the spirit of Mardi Gras. Give a nod to New Orleans by mixing yourself a Sazerac, enhanced with the smooth flavor of espresso beans.

Seasonal Sazerac 1

First, the Sazerac isn't for everyone -- if you don't love a hefty, boozy pour, or whiskey cocktails in general, you're better off skipping this one. But for those of you who do like a stiff whiskey drink, the Sazerac could just become your new favorite cocktail (if it isn't already).

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Widely believed to be America's first true cocktail, and probably around since the 1850s, it's the very definition of "classic." Legend has it that the drink originated in a New Orleans bar called the Sazerac Coffee House, and it's since become the official cocktail of New Orleans, both in spirit and actual law -- the Louisiana House of Representatives voted on the subject in 2008.

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In a nod to the Sazerac Coffee House, the bar that made the drink well known, I'm infusing this recipe with actual coffee beans. Though today's Sazeracs are most often mixed with rye whiskey, the original version was mixed with cognac -- Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils cognac, to be exact. I like to use a split base (that's bartender speak for using two spirits instead of one as the main component of the drink) of cognac and rye to incorporate the best of both worlds.

The smoothness of the cognac balances the spiciness of the rye in a way that just works wonders for me. But if you find yourself with only rye or only cognac on hand, you could make the drink with 2 oz of one or the other, instead of 1 oz of each. Obviously, this means you'll have to infuse the cognac with espresso beans instead of the rye, but the same instructions work for either.

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Another easy sub here, if you can't get your hands on demerara sugar cubes, is to pour 1/4 oz of simple syrup in the drink instead of muddling a sugar cube. Though the classic calls for muddled sugar, there isn't any noticeable qualitative difference between the two -- you're really just losing the showmanship of sugar muddling. And to be 100% honest, the muddling can take forever, so go for the syrup instead if that's not your style.

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Finally, the drink is traditionally served in a rocks glass without any ice. If you want ice in there, use an extra large cube -- the drink can withstand moderate dilution, and it of course will stay colder longer with the cube in the glass. But if you're like me, it won't take you long to consume this silky, strong sip anyway.

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Espresso Bean Sazerac

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INGREDIENTS

For the Sazerac:

  • 1 oz coffee bean rye (recipe below)
  • 1 oz cognac
  • 1 demerara sugar cube (or sub 1/4 oz simple syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon absinthe
  • 4 dashes Peychauds bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Lemon twist

For the Espresso Infused Rye:

  • 1 cup rye whiskey
  • 1 heaping tbsp espresso beans

DIRECTIONS

For the Sazerac:

(1) Pour the absinthe into a chilled rocks glass. Swirl it around to coat the inside of the glass, then discard the excess. Set the glass aside.

(2) In the bottom of a chilled mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube with the bitters and a small splash of water (or soda water) until completely dissolved.

(3) Add ice, then the cognac and espresso bean infused rye, and stir until well chilled.

(4) Strain into the absinthe-rinsed rocks glass, then express a lemon peel over the drink and discard.

For the Espresso Infused Rye:

(1) Combine the espresso beans and rye in a sealed container. Let sit in a cool dark place for 5 hours. Strain and store in the fridge.

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