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Ricetta Shirazerac - Holiday Cocktail

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This take on the classic Sazerac cocktail incorporates Shiraz, with its hint of anise, as the sweetening agent in the form of brown sugar syrup. This is substituted in place of a sugar cube and water (or simple syrup) in the classic recipe. The blackberry fruit in the Shiraz blends immediately up front with the Rye while the subtle anise notes in the wine come across nicely in the pre-finish and leading to the classic Sazerac finale of anise. The use of brown sugar in the syrup softens the flavor and works well with the Rye whiskey. A floating star anise adds to the traditional lemon zest and makes for a festive holiday garnish. The warmth of this drink is perfect for holiday cheer, while the history and tradition of the Sazerac is built upon with this contemporary twist.

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  • 1 barspoon of Shiraz syrup*
  • 2oz of Sazerac Rye
  • ½ barspoon Pastis (Herbsaint, Pernod…)
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1 quarter size round of lemon rind


  1. Fill an Old Fashioned glass with ice and set aside to chill.
  2. Cut the lemon rind to a circle about the size of a quarter, without pith. Stick a toothpick through the star anise and into the lemon rind until only a small bit of the toothpick shows from the top, breaking off the extra beneath the lemon. Set garnish aside.
  3. In a separate glass, put shiraz syrup at the bottom of the glass and cover with the rye whiskey and the bitters. Stir to dissolve the syrup. Stir briefly. Empty the chilled glass and add the Absinthe substitute to it, swirling around to coat it and leaving a small pool of what is left at the bottom. Strain the cocktail into that glass and add the Star Anise as a floating garnish.
  4. **Shiraz Syrup**
  5. Equal Parts Light Brown Sugar and Shiraz (one cup of each will yield approximately ½ cup of syrup). Place Shiraz in a sauce pan on medium heat and bring to a boil. Slowly add sugar while stirring with a whisk. After all sugar has been diluted, bring to a slow boil and reduce heat. Repeat bringing it to a boil and cooling back down 2 or three times until the mixture is reduced to a thickness that sticks to the bottom of the pan when you lean it forward. Allow to cool for a few minutes and transfer to a serving bottle.
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