In the mix
When looking for a classic cocktail, it’s best to start from the beginning. The Sazerac is known to some as the first American cocktail. This New Orleans-inspired aperitif draws its roots in pre-Civil War Louisiana and presents a smooth blend of aged rye liquor, sugar and absinthe with a hint of lemon.
Served plain without ice, the Sazerac’s simple body recalls similar whiskey cocktails like the Greenpoint or the Malena, but the faint licorice aftertaste provided by the anise flavoring is pronounced just enough to place the Sazerac in a league of its own.
A small drink that packs a big kick, the Sazerac has gained quite a following at The Cove in Midtown Memphis. Evan Potts, head bartender at The Cove, says the popularity of the drink initially caught him by surprise. It doesn’t get much more classic than a Sazerac,” he says. “It’s crazy how popular it is here.” So popular, in fact, that it’s become the signature drink of the nautical-themed bar, dubbed “the classiest dive bar in Memphis” by patrons. The Cove uses Sazerac-brand rye liquor, though any rye liquor will suffice. The Cove also offers a selection of oyster and shrimp dishes to cater to its growing customer base that includes an eclectic mix of local lawyers and recent Memphis College of Arts graduates.
At 24, Potts has earned his place locally and nationally among mixologists. The Cooper-Young native was recently voted 3rd best bartender in the city by The Memphis Flyer’s annual “Best in Memphis” competition and has been recognized at the Cochon 555 chef’s tour for an award-winning mixture of his own concoction known as the “Anchors Aweigh,” a twist on another classic that substitutes bourbon in lieu of a traditional rum base. “I’ve always loved cooking,” Potts says. “But the real money’s in bartending.”
¾ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
Absinthe or other anise-flavored rinse
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 ½ oz. Rye liquor
1. rim glass with lemon.
2. Combine sugar, water and bitters in tumbler & stir.
3. Add rye liquor.
4. Rinse preferred glass
(martini or small rocks works best.)
5. Add ice to cocktail.
6.. Stir and strain into glass.