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Oct 8, 2012 01:11 PM

absinthe type liquor for sazerac

Hello. I'm outside theliquor store right now, I wrote a long post a minute ago and hit the wrong Burton on my phone, so hear is the short version. I can get Pernod which I was told an acceptable substitute, 30 bucks. They also have lucid for about sixty. Judging by the bottle, lucid is pricy because of marketing. I'm asking you, is.lucid worth the price or do I go with Pernod. Thanks alot

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  1. If you're using it solely for Sazeracs and in small quantity cocktails, go with Herbsaint if they have it. Herbsaint was created in New Orleans after absinthe was banned and used in Sazeracs all the time (and even after absinthe was re-legalized in 2007). A bottle will run you about $22.

    Also, pastis will work well for Sazeracs. Henri Bardouin and Pastis d'Autrefois are two good ones in the $20-30 range. Very similar to absinthe save for sugar added in most pastis (PdA has none), lower proof (pastis is 80 proof instead of 120ish), and no wormwood (hard to even pick out in many absinthes due to the licorice-fennel-anise notes).

    There are 2 Pernods on the market. The Pernod for $30 is a pastis. Pernod absinthe goes for $60. Look at the proof (80 vs. 120ish) to quickly tell the difference although price will be a good hint.

    Lucid at $60 is not pricy for an absinthe. Most are in the $50-100 range.

    1 Reply
    1. re: yarm

      all they had were the two i mentioned. i went with it. going to make some drinks soon!

    2. drinking one now. well.....................

      anyone want to purchase a nearly full bottle of lucid? haha

      27 Replies
      1. re: charles_sills

        No reason Lucid shouldn't make a perfectly decent Sazerac, you only used a teaspoon of it.

        1. re: sku

          Could be the OP simply does not like Sazeracs. I've had just one, and found it vile, but that was at a sports bar in Nashville. So I'll try one at a GOOD bar, and if I hate that one too I'll spare myself the price of absinthe.

          1. re: Will Owen

            fleet street pub?

            308 and Holland House both make a fine Sazerac in Nashville.

          2. re: sku

            technically, i used less than that, because all i did was coat the glass with it, then dump the rest in back in the bottle.
            ill keep it around, because one of my friends really likes the drink, but its not my thing haha. to each his/her own.

            1. re: charles_sills

              Did you use a long stir? I've found many of the sub-par sazeracs I've had resulted from either shaking (blasphemy!), or stirring for too short a time. I put my 0.5oz simple syrup (prefer it to the cube), 2oz rye, and 7 shakes Peychauds bitters in my glass stirring vessel, stir for 30 seconds or so, go get my glass, spritz it with Herbsaint, stir 30 more seconds, then strain into the glass. This long stir adds a bit more water to the cocktail which helps to mellow it out a bit. Paul (now at Bergamot), taught me about the long stir when he worked at Cragie On Main. Paul still makes one of the best Sazeracs in the Boston area, though the Birdman at Russell House Tavern (ex-Commander's Palace bar manager in New Orleans) makes a very mean one as well.

              1. re: kimfair1

                This is good advice in general. Not sure if it was in a Gary Regan or Robert Hess book (probably Regan's though) but one of them made the forceful case for longer stirring. I think they cited 35 seconds, and that's what I count in my head whenever I stir a drink.

                1. re: kimfair1

                  I do a longstir at home when I use the perfect cube squares. At most bars with smaller ice (and more surface area) you can get away with 30 seconds for a strong spirit based drink served up or down (but not on the rocks).

                  I do think that not understanding stirring time or size of ice is one of the reasons many spirit cocktails don't quite measure up when out. Anyone can measure ingredients using a jigger, but it takes a real perfectionist to make sure enough dilution is taking place to marry the ingredients in a stirred cocktail.

                  1. re: Klunco

                    That's a good point. I haven't been behind a bar since the '90s, and back then, I was really more of a beertender, as the cocktail revolution hadn't hit yet. Mixing drinks at home, I use ice cubes from the tray, and they tend to be larger and stronger than the smaller fragile things that ice machines give you. You've got a really good point about different kinds of ice needing different stirring times.

                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                      If you freeze water in a meat loaf pan or something larger and then use an ice pick (you can get one at the Extinct Items Museum Gift Shop), you can get something approximating Real Ice. Large pieces give enough surface area to chill wuickly as dilute rapidly while then, accordingt to my engineer father, hiold the temperature steady without significant watering. These chunck ares essential for drinks on the rocks some of which might be preferred "up" but in New Orleans or Manhattan in teh summer, are often best on ice (see Beefeater Martini On the Rocks, a classic)

                    2. re: Klunco

                      >>> I do think that not understanding stirring time or size of ice is one of the reasons many spirit cocktails don't quite measure up when out. <<<

                      And could you explain the above in light of the below?

                      >>> Anyone can measure ingredients using a jigger, but it takes a real perfectionist to make sure enough dilution is taking place to marry the ingredients in a stirred cocktail. <<<

                      It seems to me that that the duration of stirring, *and* the size of the ice directly affect the amount or dilution . . . .

                      1. re: zin1953

                        Sorry if I was unclear; that's exactly what I meant. One must take into account both stirring time and size of ice.

                        Definitely an overlooked aspect of cocktail making.

                    3. re: kimfair1

                      i stir all of my drinks for 40 to 45 seconds. basically until the pint glass im stirring in is too cold to hold.

                  2. re: sku

                    I actually find Lucid to be pretty repulsive in Sazeracs. (I should note that I also dislike it on its own.) Most other pastis and absinthes work, but for some reason Lucid when combined with rye (and I've tried a half-dozen or so, from Old Overholt to Sazerac 18) and Peychaud's just has a really off-putting taste.

                    1. re: lambretta76

                      Pernod works fine for me. I use Bulleit for my rye.

                    2. re: sku

                      Well, even though one theoretically just "rinses" the glass, the flavor lingers . . . clearly it's a different cocktail if one omits that "rinse" entirely. That said, whether it's merely tradition or a true taste difference*, I prefer Herbsaint to the other Pastis or Absenthe I've tried . . .

                      Just my 2¢ . . .


                      * Let me quickly add I've never done a "blind tasting" where I didn't know the ingredients in the drink.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        I'll do Sazeracs with either St. George Absinthe or re-released Herbsaint original formula. Frankly, both are great choices.

                        But, I'll also add that I think blind taste testing has its limits. I mean, why not take the little bump in pleasure that is solely provided by your mind and not the ingredients? If the difference in quality isn't large enough for a seasoned taster like yourself to overcome psychological bias, then maybe it's not worth losing the pleasure you do take from the traditional recipe. And Herbsaint is cheaper than most of the alternatives, to boot.

                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                          All I can say is that it's been well-documented -- even among the most experienced, professional tasters - that label-bias exists in blind wine tastings. Pre-conceived notions sadly *do* exist, regardless of our own desires to eliminate it.

                          Having spent 35+ years in the wine trade, I've personally experienced it several times. You expect one thing if you see the label says "Château Lafite," for instance, and something entirely different if the label says "Château Cache Phloe."

                          1. re: zin1953

                            You miss my point. Perhaps because I'm not making it well. I'm not arguing against blind tasting. I think it's an incredibly important process in wine and spirit reviews.

                            But sometimes it goes too far. The Sazerac is a nigh perfect drink. If you get a touch of extra pleasure knowing that the rinse is with the traditional Herbsaint and not with a top-notch replacement, what is to be gained from a blind tasting? It doesn't seem like much. It seems that we are hell-bent on divorcing "taste" from the overall experience of tasting.

                            But you do this for a living and I imagine that it's of paramount importance to eliminate bias from your tastings.

                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                              I prefer Herbsaint because I'm a traditionalist and that's my "go to" for a Sazerac. But I don't get any "extra pleasure" from the drink due to the use of Herbsaint, and were I to have -- for example -- two Sazeracs made side-by-side, one with Herbsaint and one with, say, St. George Absinthe, without knowing which was which (and all else being equal), it just may turn out that I prefer the one made with the St. George . . . who knows?

                              But I'm also a big believer in not "ruining" great distillates in a cocktail. (Heresy, I know.) So, just as an example, I love Sazerac 18-year old Rye (if and when I can find it) -- but neat, or with a single ice cube; I'd never use it (personally) to make a Sazerac cocktail. I prefer "Old Overcoat" in Sazeracs, Bulleit Rye with an ice cube (though it's also wonderful in a Sazerac).

                              Then again, every time Chris Hannah makes my Sazerac, I keep asking myself why I even bother trying to do this at home . . . .


                              1. re: zin1953

                                Well, if you've got Chris Hannah making you drinks then there really isn't a reason to make any at home, Sazeracs or anything else.

                                By the way, did you catch the scene set in Arnaud's French 75 in the last episode of Treme. Warmed my heart, it did.

                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                  Absolutely! Loved it!

                                  (Don't misunderstand: we live in Berkeley, but visit New Orleans 2x a year.)

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Yeah, I'm in the wrong LA to have the pleasure of a Chris Hannah sazerac at my leisure.

                                2. re: zin1953

                                  I find Old Overholt a bit flat, and considering that the cocktail is mostly the booze, I want something with a bit more depth. My favorite is Bulleit Rye, because it's got some nice depth of flavor, big rye content, and is affordable enough that I can almost always have a bottle of it around. I love Russels Reserve, but the price point is high enough that I don't always have a bottle. I've used Rittenhouse, but found it's too much of a bruiser. I've also tried Pikesville and found it a bit lacking. But each to their own, you build your own drink for your own enjoyment :)

                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                    I have a soft spot in my heart for Old Overholt. It was my first rye so it'll always have the power of sense memory attached to it, even if it isn't my favorite rye by a long shot. It is a bit flat, as you say.

                                    I've been enjoying Redemption Rye and Bulleit in my Sazeracs, of late. Both are a bit more than Old Overholt, though not by too much.

                                    On another note, I've really liked the newish Pierre Ferrand 1840 for a really old school cognac Sazerac. Different drink, but really good, too.

                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                      Actually I agree with you. Old Overholt IS a bit "flat" -- that's a good way to describe it. I use it primarily because I'm still trying to get my Sazerac "down." That is, I'm close, but I make them rather infrequently and so I know they aren't as good as they should/can be . . . yet. One variable at a time, and -- since I prefer Bulleit straight -- I may indeed fail to replace the Overholt once it's gone. ;^)

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        Funny thing is that I like the Bulleit Rye more than the bourbon. Despite all it's adoration, from bourbon lovers and spirit experts, I've never really come around to Bulleit Bourbon. It always seems too rough. Odly enough though, the rye seems a lot smoother and more complex, at least to me...go figure. Then again, I like my bourbons on the sweeter, smokier, and woodier side, and the Bulleit Bourbon is very much so in the realm of spicy, peppery hot, what with it's high rye content.

                                        I'd love to try Redemption Rye in more drinks, but just haven't got around to buying a bottle, and I guess I'm not quite sure when I will. Like I said, I like bourbons with a more bourbon-y profile (if that makes sense) and while I love rye in cocktails, I'm not as much into it as a sipping spirit. As such, I feel like I've sort've found a couple sub $20 bottle (Rittenhouse and Bulleit) that both work well in drinks and have enough difference in character to provide some diversity, and as a result it's been hard for me to justify buying bottles of some of the newer, high-end, and pricey ryes out there.

                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                          I hear you. You've got a two great choices in rye for cocktails. Not sure the $10 premium for Redemption is worth it if you aren't a big rye guy.

                      2. I have a real love-hate relationship with absinthe/pastis. I hate licorice. It is one of the most vile flavors I know of, and drinks in which the absinthe is strong really make me ill.

                        That said, sometimes a little bit adds a vaguely mysterious flavor (instead of just pure anise/licorice) and I find it a good addition. Sazeracs are one of the few drinks in which I think it works, for me, as an ingredient.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                          I do like licorice, but generally not much in cocktails. Surprisingly I do like Stephan Cole's (The Violet Hour, Chicago) 2 to 2, from Beta Cocktails. It has a full ounce of absinthe (or you could use pastis, but omit the simple syrup). I like it a lot, although I would not make it that often. It is a touch bitter, with an ounce of Aperol. Not super bitter, but somewhat bitter.

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                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                            Have you tried the Dead Man's Mule? Full ounce of absinthe, plus some orgeat, pimento dram, and lime. Really works quite nicely. Here it is on Yarm's blog:


                            (And just as I copied the link I see that you've already commented on it. But I'll leave this post here for others.)

                        2. The Sazerac is my favorite cocktail, and the last cocktail I have out on drinking nights. I use Herbsaint for mine, but I put about 1 oz of it in a small atomizer bottle, so I can just mist the inside of the glass before adding the cold rye/bitters/sugar. This way I don't dump any out, and I don't have to dump it back into the bottle (potentially introducing stuff from inside the glass into the bottle).

                          1. Not necessarily germaine to the OP's question, but it's unusual to find so many sazerac drinkers in one place. When I order one in a bar, I usually encounter "what's that?" at which time I ask for a Jameson rocks. I prefer to leave about 1/4 oz. of Herbsaint in the bottom of the glass after coating the sides. Try it and see for yourself.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: zorrosf

                              Well, this is the spirits forum on Chowhound :) Seems like bartenders have gotten more familiar with classic cocktails (especially since the days I worked behind a bar) but I think most of them are still just beertenders because most customers just order beers and very simple mixed drinks; i.e., raspberry stoli and tonic, etc... However, the folks on this forum are really into this stuff, and even if they can't find a bar nearby to order a proper Sazerac, more than likely the majority of folks on here have made several of them at home.

                              Hmmm... Now that I think about it, I think it's time for a Sazerac :)

                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                I, too, love me a good Sazerac, but like you I, too, find it rare, and when it is available, not expertly made.

                              2. re: zorrosf

                                I agree with the very wet rinse method for a sazerac. I kind of hate the use of those little misters to coat the glass for a sazerac. The herbsaint is too faint that way.