New York City is home to some of America’s most iconic cocktails—the Bloody Mary, Cosmopolitan and Manhattan all originated here—but don’t overlook bayou original and Vieux Carré cousin the Sazerac. Born out of a local apothecary in early 19th-century New Orleans, the traditional Sazerac consisted of cognac, absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters and sugar. Over time, cognac was replaced with rye, and today, it’s quite common to see creative riffs on the classic, with intrepid barkeeps employing everything from amari and syrups to pastis and Herbsaint. Whether you fancy yourself a cocktail purist or an innovative imbiber, you’ll be sure to find your Sazerac of choice right here in NYC.
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Best Sazeracs in NYC
The off-menu Sazerac at this turn of the century New Orleans throwback rules the roost, deploying rye whiskey and not one but two types of bitters—Peychaud’s and creole—for added depth. Add a hint of simple syrup, a wash of absinthe and a squeeze of lemon, and you’ve got the most authentic Sazerac that Yankee money can buy.
It’s no surprise that the cocktail virtuosos at this knock-and-buzz Milk and Honey spinoff yield a traditional Sazerac so well-balanced it could bring Peychaud himself back from the dead. It’s this absinthe-rinse-served-on-the-side type of authenticity at the brushed-steel bar that’ll leave cocktail mavens glad they waited in line.
Navigate your way through the bleached canvas that is the Envoy Enterprises gallery and, with a flick of the wrist, grant yourself access to Fig. 19’s dimly lit den of beaded chandeliers, taxidermy decor and exceptional craft cocktails. This female-owned speakeasy bar attracts both art house and gourmand crowds alike serving up a traditional muddled-sugar Sazerac alongside the Marcel Duchamp– inspired Rose Sélavy.
It’s no surprise that this luxuriously gothic lounge slings a killer Sazerac. Framed by Cimmerian walls and illuminated by the hue of a marble-top bar, Death & Co’s off-menu Sazerac swaps caramel-like demerara syrup for its simpler sister, resulting in a deeper, slightly sweeter NOLA quaff fit for a prince (of darkness).
While the Sazerac may not be on the standard cocktail menu at this Prohibition-style West Village speakeasy, the barmen sheathed in white chef coats are happy to tip a proverbial hat to the Big Easy, mixing up authentic absinthe-washed Sazeracs brandished by a bite of rye or kiss of Cognac (your choice).
Although the modern-day Sazerac has evolved from its 19th-century origin as a medicinal Cognac-bitters blend, lab coat– clad barkeeps at Chinatown’s Apothéke pay homage to the cocktail’s pharmaceutical roots, serving up this potent elixir as a cure for what ails you. No prescription required.
A delightful riff on the classic, the 8 Amaro Sazerac combines Amor y Amargo’s house amari blend with herbaceous notes of green chartreuse and a sweet-tart kick of orange citrate for what could very well be your one-stop-shop for a hangover cure.
Don’t let its rustic, adult-summer-camp vibe fool you—Dram bar-hands mix a mean cocktail. Flawlessly integrated, its Sazerac wins extra points for stylish prep as you watch your absinthe-lined highball get spun high into the air, ensuring every square inch is coated with the unmistakable flavors of green anise and sweet fennel.
Half watering hole, half U.S. history lesson, the Dead Rabbit applies a similar binary philosophy to its off-menu Sazerac, employing one-part rye and one-part Cognac for a slightly sweeter quaff served up by a friendly professor turned bartender type.
Thanks to Saxon + Parole, you can explore the softer side of Sazerac, pampering yourself with its chamomile variation consisting of Pierre Ferrand Cognac, rye, spring blossom honey, Peychaud’s bitters and chamomile—a floral riff so refreshing you’ll forget whether you booked a day at the spa or a night on the town.