Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | February 25, 2009

Sazeritif & Negative Space Cocktails

So yesterday I posted the recipe for the Sazeritif, by SeanMike of Scofflaw’s Den. In the post, I said that I thought the cocktail could be a negative space Sazerac. I wrote:

I wrote about negative space cocktails following having the Fakie Alexander by Adam Bernbach at Bar Pilar. Here’s what Adam wrote me about negative space options:

As far as the “fakie,” I’m really into Brandy Alexanders and I’ve really been exploring the idea of the “negative space” cocktail (a cocktail in which you replace a major ingredient with it’s opposite in order to imply the missing note). In this case, I replaced the cacao with chinato (the Italian’s favorite pairing for chocolate). Hope it worked for you.

I have to imagine that this was the same concept SeanMike was going for, as it makes a lot of sense. The Sazerac doesn’t have sweet vermouth, but rye is so often associated with sweet vermouth because they work well together (as the Vieux Carre and a la Louisiane abley demonstrate). I’ve never seen rye used as a rinse before, but I think it could work. I look forward to trying SeanMike’s creation and think it’s a great addition to the list of classic cocktails to honor New Orleans on Mardi Gras.

I happened to be at Bar Pilar last night for a Tuesday Cocktail Session (which incidentally closed with a Fakie Alexander for me) and talked with Adam about the Sazeritif. He pointed out that negative space cocktails shouldn’t have the paired ingredient — eg, the Fakie doesn’t have creme de cacao — hence the “negative” aspect of the cocktail. The absence is what brings in the association between the new ingredient and the old cocktail. Instead, the Sazeritif adds a traditional partner of rye (the sweet vermouth), puts the rye in a different, less prominent role, and removes the sugar from the Sazerac and adds a bit more absinthe directly to the drink. Since rye and vermouth are both in the cocktail, it isn’t negative space.  But it’s also not a reverse Sazerac, which would probably be an absinthe base and a rye rinse. It’s something different. Maybe a fakie reverse cocktail? It seems like a category of cocktail making is missing…

On a different note, I did make myself a Sazeritif last night before dinner. It was a nice vermouth based cocktail and it reminded me that I really didn’t have a vermouth-dominated cocktail in my regular rotation. I wasn’t blown away by the rye rinse. Suspecting that rye would be understated, I went with Wild Turkey 101 Rye, which is the strongest stuff I have. The cocktail tasted great, but the rye rinse didn’t add the same sort of nose the absinthe does in the Sazerac. Oh well. I guess it really isn’t fair to compare other spirits against absinthe when it comes to the sort of nose they add to a cocktail.

Lastly, Adam has updated the regular cocktail list at Bar Pilar and it now includes the Fakie Alexander, among a number of other great drinks.



  1. […] the urge to remake it with a splash of Creme de Cacao and allowed myself the luxury to enjoy the negative space implied by its absence. This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of […]

  2. A reverse sazerac would be 1.5oz Peychauds, .5oz Rye, still served stirred cold neat in an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. And it would be delicious, just like the Trinidad Sour with its full ounce of Ango.

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