Vodka Sazerac


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Introduction to the Vodka Sazerac

Welcome to the world of the Vodka Sazerac, a modern twist on a classic cocktail. This drink swaps out rye whiskey for vodka, offering a lighter take on the New Orleans favorite. With its crisp profile and signature absinthe rinse, it’s a must-try for cocktail enthusiasts.

The Vodka Sazerac is perfect for those who appreciate the tradition of cocktail culture but desire something less robust than whiskey. Its unique blend of flavors is sure to intrigue your palate. Let’s dive into the essence of this refined drink.

Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or a curious beginner, this guide will help you master the art of making a Vodka Sazerac. Follow along as we explore the history, ingredients, and techniques that make this cocktail a standout.

Key Facts About the Vodka Sazerac

  • Alcohol Content: Approximately 40% ABV from the vodka
  • Calories: Roughly 150 kcal per serving
  • Glass Type: Traditionally served in an old fashioned glass
  • Garnish: Aromatic lemon twist to enhance the experience

Interesting Facts about the Vodka Sazerac

The Vodka Sazerac is a testament to the versatility of classic cocktails. While it deviates from the original whiskey base, it maintains the integrity of the Sazerac’s flavor profile. The use of vodka allows the subtle notes of the absinthe and bitters to shine through.

Did you know that the Sazerac is often referred to as America’s first cocktail? This vodka variant continues the legacy, proving that innovation can coexist with tradition in the cocktail world.

Vodka Sazerac Cocktail

Tasting Notes on the Vodka Sazerac

The Vodka Sazerac offers a crisp, clean taste with a hint of botanical complexity from the absinthe and bitters. It’s a cocktail that appeals to those who prefer a smoother, less oaky flavor profile than what whiskey provides.

This cocktail is ideal for a sophisticated evening or as a refreshing nightcap. Its lightness makes it suitable for any season, and it’s particularly enjoyable during spring and summer gatherings.

The Vodka Sazerac is a conversation starter, perfect for cocktail parties or intimate get-togethers. Its elegant presentation and intriguing flavor will impress guests and elevate any occasion.

History of the Vodka Sazerac

The Sazerac’s roots trace back to 19th-century New Orleans, a melting pot of cultures and flavors. Originally made with cognac and later rye whiskey, the Sazerac has evolved over time.

The introduction of vodka into this iconic cocktail is a relatively recent innovation. It caters to the modern palate, offering a lighter alternative while respecting the drink’s storied past.

Anecdotes suggest that the Sazerac was named after a brand of cognac, Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils. As the cocktail gained popularity, bartenders experimented with different spirits, leading to the creation of the Vodka Sazerac.

Vodka Sazerac Ingredients

  • Vodka: 2 oz (60 ml) – Provides a neutral base that allows the other flavors to stand out.
  • Sugar Cube: 1 cube (about 4 grams) – Adds a touch of sweetness to balance the bitters.
  • Peychaud’s Bitters: 2 dashes – Gives the cocktail its signature pink hue and a floral, anise-like flavor.
  • Absinthe Rinse: About 1/4 oz (7 ml) – Imparts a subtle licorice note and aromatic complexity.
  • Lemon Twist: For garnish – The essential oils add a fresh, citrusy aroma and a hint of zest.

“The absinthe rinse is what sets the Vodka Sazerac apart, creating a fragrant layer that’s integral to the cocktail’s identity.”

Preparing Vodka Sazerac

Method for Crafting the Perfect Vodka Sazerac

Chilling the Glass

Start by chilling an old fashioned glass. This can be done by placing it in the freezer or filling it with ice water. A cold glass will keep your cocktail at the perfect temperature.

Muddling the Ingredients

In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube with Peychaud’s Bitters. This process dissolves the sugar and releases the bitters’ flavors, creating a sweet and aromatic foundation.

Stirring the Cocktail

Add the vodka to the mixing glass along with ice. Stir the mixture for about 30 seconds. This step chills the vodka without diluting the cocktail too much.

The Absinthe Rinse

Remove the ice or water from your chilled glass and add the absinthe. Swirl it around to coat the inside of the glass, then discard any excess. This technique infuses the drink with a hint of absinthe.

Straining and Garnishing

Strain the chilled vodka mixture into the absinthe-rinsed glass. Garnish with a lemon twist by expressing the oils over the drink and placing it on the rim or dropping it in.

Serving Suggestion for the Vodka Sazerac

The Vodka Sazerac is traditionally served in an old fashioned glass. The wide brim allows the aromas to waft up, enhancing the drinking experience.

For garnish, a lemon twist is not just decorative but functional. Twisting it over the drink releases essential oils that add a bright, citrusy note to the cocktail.

Elevating the Vodka Sazerac

  • Quality Vodka: Choose a high-quality vodka with a clean taste to ensure the cocktail’s flavors are balanced and not overpowered.
  • Proper Technique: Mastering the stirring technique ensures the drink is chilled without being watered down, preserving its strong flavor profile.
  • Attention to Detail: Pay close attention to the absinthe rinse. It should be just enough to coat the glass and impart its signature flavor without overwhelming the drink.

Vodka Sazerac Finished Cocktail

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Vodka Sazerac

If absinthe is unavailable, a pastis or anise-flavored liqueur can be used as a substitute. While not identical, these alternatives will still provide a similar herbal note.

For those who prefer a sweeter cocktail, simple syrup can replace the sugar cube. This ensures a more consistent sweetness throughout the drink.

Similar cocktails include the Classic Sazerac with rye whiskey or the Corpse Reviver #2, which also features absinthe but includes gin and citrus for a different twist.

Add a Twist to the Vodka Sazerac

Infuse the vodka with herbs or spices to introduce new flavor dimensions. For example, a rosemary-infused vodka can add a woodsy note to the cocktail.

Experiment with different bitters. A dash of orange or chocolate bitters can complement the existing flavors and add complexity.

Consider a flavored absinthe rinse, such as one with a hint of mint or cinnamon, to subtly alter the cocktail’s profile.

Preferred Liquors for the Vodka Sazerac

For the best Vodka Sazerac, opt for premium vodkas like Grey Goose or Ketel One. These brands are known for their smoothness and will enhance the overall quality of the cocktail.

When it comes to absinthe, traditional brands like Pernod or St. George offer the authentic flavor that is crucial for the Sazerac experience.

Always use Peychaud’s Bitters for a genuine Vodka Sazerac. Its unique flavor profile is irreplaceable and defines the cocktail’s character.

Similar Cocktails to the Vodka Sazerac

The Classic Martini shares vodka as a base and can be customized with different vermouths and garnishes for a personalized touch.

The Moscow Mule, while distinctly different, also features vodka and offers a refreshing, gingery kick that vodka lovers may enjoy.

The French 75 is another cocktail that combines the strength of spirits with the lightness of champagne, appealing to those who enjoy the Vodka Sazerac’s crispness.

Food Pairings to Go with the Vodka Sazerac

Classic New Orleans cuisine, such as shrimp remoulade or oysters Rockefeller, pairs beautifully with the Vodka Sazerac, echoing its rich history.

For a contemporary twist, try pairing the cocktail with sushi or ceviche. The clean flavors of the vodka complement the freshness of these dishes.

For a casual gathering, simple charcuterie or cheese boards can provide a variety of flavors that match well with the cocktail’s complexity.

Vodka Sazerac FAQs

Can I use any type of vodka for a Vodka Sazerac? While you can use any vodka, a high-quality, neutral-tasting vodka is recommended for the best flavor balance.

Is the absinthe rinse necessary? Yes, the absinthe rinse is essential for achieving the signature flavor of a Vodka Sazerac.

What can I use if I don’t have Peychaud’s Bitters? While Peychaud’s Bitters are traditional, you can experiment with other aromatic bitters to find a flavor you enjoy.

How do I properly express a lemon twist? Hold the lemon peel over the drink and twist it to release the oils, then rub the rim of the glass with the peel for extra aroma.

Can the Vodka Sazerac be made in advance? It’s best enjoyed fresh, but you can pre-mix the vodka and bitters and store it in the fridge. Just add the absinthe rinse and garnish before serving.

Vodka Sazerac_001

Vodka Sazerac

The Vodka Sazerac is a twist on the classic New Orleans cocktail, substituting vodka for the traditional rye whiskey. This variation maintains the distinctive absinthe rinse and Peychaud's Bitters, offering a lighter, crisper profile.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Calories 150 kcal


  • Mixing glass
  • Muddler
  • Bar spoon
  • Old Fashioned glass
  • Jigger
  • Strainer


  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 sugar cube about 4 grams
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Absinthe rinse
  • Lemon twist, for garnish


  • Chill an old fashioned glass by placing it in the freezer or filling it with ice water and setting it aside.
  • In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube and Peychaud's Bitters until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the vodka to the mixing glass with ice and stir until well chilled, about 30 seconds.
  • Discard the ice or water from the chilled old fashioned glass and add the absinthe. Swirl the absinthe around to coat the inside of the glass, then discard the excess.
  • Strain the chilled vodka mixture into the absinthe-rinsed glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist by expressing the oils over the drink and dropping it in or resting it on the rim of the glass.


For a more authentic Sazerac experience, use a high-quality vodka with a clean, neutral taste. The absinthe rinse is crucial for the cocktail's signature flavor, so it should not be omitted.
Keyword absinthe, Classic Cocktail, Lemon Twist, Old Fashioned Glass, Peychaud's Bitters, Vodka Cocktail, Vodka Sazerac

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