The Applejack Saze-wack


Some people discover pencillin. Others spill battery acid and then somehow, suddenly, they've invented the phone. Me? I improvise Sazeracs with applejack brandy.

While riffling through my ever-beloved Difford's Encyclopedia of Cocktails recently, I was stopped dead in my tracks by Simon Difford's recipe for a Sazerac. Ask any goomba how to make a classic one and you'll be told rye whiskey, bitters (Peychaud's, sometimes Angostura too), a sugar cube, and an old-fashioned glass coated with absinthe. Well, that's just not good enough for Monsieur Lord Simon Difford, Esq., Ph.D. VII...


I know I reference Simon's namesake book a lot, and as a straight-up, serious-minded reference tome it practically cannot be beat. But I'm starting to think Simon Difford might be part peacock. He's quite the fancy lad; you can tell from his recipe write-ups, with their ostentatious notations. Oftentimes he'll call for "chilled mineral water (omit if wet ice)" which I will admit to you, my fellow peanut-gallery proletariats, I just don't get. Is Simon McFoppishstein making his cocktails with dry ice? Does he live in a space colony?

Rather than rye, Master Simon's Sazerac employs a mix of cognac and bourbon -- cognac because Mr. Peychaud often mixed his eponymous bitters with brandy, and bourbon "as is more communally used to make this drink today." (Um, no, Knight of OnePercentershire; us down here in Proleville use rye, not bourbon, and by the way, the word is commonly.)

Because I am a class warrior, I decided to take on Difford's rococo Sazerac. (Never mind that I've yet to craft an actual -- ahem, I'm sorry, communal -- Sazerac for this blog.) Then I discovered gravity our cognac had been 86'd by a PhoBlograpHusband who'd taken to secret brandy nightcaps as of late. So I grabbed the neck of my next-closest bottle: Applejack brandy.


My new favorite way to describe bourbon-based cocktails is chewy, and the Applejack Saze-wack is like the freaking caramel nougat of bourbon-based cocktails: Mondo chewy. Nay, even rococo chewy. Freaking Baroque chewy. It's absolutely delish -- well-balanced, intriguing -- and my new favorite mistake.

The Applejack Saze-wack

(A riff on Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D.'s Simon Difford's Sazerac as found in his book on page 367)

2 ounces Laird's Applejack Brandy

2 ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon

1 ounce Lucid absinthe

1 ounce simple syrup

3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine brandy, bourbon, simple syrup and both bitters in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled, absinthe-coated highball, rocks or old-fashioned glass.

Tasting Notes

I will concede to Mr. Difford that his method for coating a glass with absinthe is preferable to the norm. Rather than rolling a splash of absinthe around the interior of a glass by hand, he simply fills the glass with ice, pours in his absinthe, then fills with cold water. (Or, as he insists upon, "chilled mineral water.") Then he lets that stand while preparing the cocktail. In this way, you can chill and coat the glass at the same time. Point, Difford! En garde!

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The Corpse Reviver #2

Do more classic cocktails, is my #1 resolution for the blog this year. As much as I love, and have no plans to cease, inventing original recipes, perhaps I should ease up on bedeviling you all with my illimitable tipple perspicacity (resolution #2: consult thesaurus more) for the sake of some insightful, happy hour convo-worthy history lessons on drinks that have stood the test of time, or haven't but deserve as much. Plus, discuss how to make said vintage drinks at their finest, a la The World's Greatest Cosmopolitan. (Resolution Trois: I am the greatest!)

Let's start with Corpse Revivers which, like their titular cadavers, are making a comeback. The phrase refers to a genus of hair-of-the-dog cocktails; Corpse Reviver #1 and Corpse Reviver #2 are the individual species you're likely to encounter. Strangely, they resemble each other not at all. Their generally-agreed-upon ingredients break down thusly:

Corpse Reviver#1: Cognac, Calvados, sweet vermouth

Corpse Reviver #2: Gin, triple sec, Lillet, absinthe, lemon juice

It is my understanding that both can be traced back to the Savoy Cocktail Book, authored by legendary barman/American expat Harry Craddock and published in 1930. However, when mentioned elsewhere, #2 is almost always credited as an expressly Craddock creation whereas #1's genealogy seems much muddier, or maybe just less interesting. Maybe #1 was, like, made by his rival but still good enough to be included in his book? Cocktail history really is crippled by the fact that people were probably drunk (i.e. forgetful and/or brazenly self-aggrandizing) when they wrote this shit down.

There are other Corpse Revivers as well. Depending on the source you consult, you may come across "Corpse Reviver No.2 #2" (not a typo), "Corpse Reviver #3 or" the "Savoy Corpse Reviver," which apparently stems back not to London's Hotel Savoy circa the 1930s but to some dude in the 1950s...? Repeat what I just said about crippled history.

Anyway, so how's it taste? Because I was too drunkenly forgetful to write that shit down, I'm relying on what the PhoBlograpHusband had to say about it: "The general base was the citrus from the triple sec and the lemon juice, with the herbaceousness of the gin sort of getting along nicely in there. But that absinthe note really came through, it's really pervasive. It was really nice and bracing. I can see how old-timey people would have had this in the morning."

The Corpse Reviver#2

3/4 ounce Bombay London Dry Gin

3/4 ounce triple sec

3/4 ounce Lillet blonde

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 dash Pernod absinthe

Lemon twist, to garnish

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lemon twist.

Tasting Notes

Many recipes, even those that go way back, will insist upon Cointreau rather than no-name triple sec. I just didn't have any around.

Likewise, there's nitpicking to be done as to whether Lillet or dry vermouth is the proper ingredient here. Some sources will even cite Swedish punsch (Not a Typo #2) as the proper ingredient... you know what? All this history stuff is hard. I may be rethinking Resolution #1.

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