Drink of the Week: Toulouse’s Sazerac

This week’s featured drink is Toulouse’s Sazerac.
Robert Galloway/Tahoe Daily Tribune

In our Drink of the Week segment, we’ll showcase one unique type of beer, wine, cocktail — you name it — to try at one of the countless breweries, bars and restaurants from around the basin.

Having visited New Orleans, I can tell you that the Sazerac cocktail is a huge staple in that town. You can probably find a variation of it on every corner around Bourbon Street and it was even deemed New Orleans’ official cocktail by the Louisiana House of Representatives. However, you don’t see many of them around Tahoe — until now.

While this particular cocktail is fairly easy to make, it is quite hard to master. Thankfully, the folks over at Toulouse have done all the mastering for you so you can enjoy a little south in your mouth.

It all starts in the shaker. A few sugar cubes, a splash of water, and Angostura bitters are muddled until the cubes break down. Ice is added to the shaker the same time a chilled glass joins the fray, which gets a splash of absinthe swished about for a nice cleansing rinse. Normally, the absinthe is discarded, but the folks at Toulouse like to hike up their britches and add that splash to the cocktail instead of tossing it aside.

A shot of rye whiskey and a shot of brandy are then added to the shaker for a little dance. The glass gets a lemon twist soak around the rim then the cocktail is strained in. While the photo may look like a shot, it is not — it’s oversized and meant to be sipped rather than chugged. I mean, you can certainly chug it, but why run and exert yourself when you can walk and soak it all in?

The drink is whiskey forward, but there’s a sweetness to it that really calms down the heat. It doesn’t hide from its boldness, but rather embraces the punch it packs and even doubles down on it. There’s hints of herbal notes from the bitters and the absinthe, which adds an additional layer of complexity, but never masking the bigger players in the game.

There’s discussion out there that this is the oldest known American cocktail. Whether that’s true or not, grabbing a taste of history sounds like a fun thing to do on a Friday night.

Toulouse restaurant is located at 901 Park Ave. in South Lake Tahoe. For menu and more information visit them online at or by phone at 530-600-0060.

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