Unlike the president, the Sazerac Cocktail is missing its birth certificate – at least from the time it is assumed to have been born, the 1850’s. For anyone assuming that it had been born in the 1850’s, the fact that no American drinks-or-bartending book includes it until 1908 (and then virtually every one after that does) should be a problem. Also, doing advanced Google Books searches for the exact phrase “sazerac cocktail” from any time before 1908 yields no results for either books or newspapers and periodicals (at least that upon investigation were actually published before then). If one does the same search, but for the time period of after 1908, there are many results – including in newspapers and periodicals. As of now, we cannot say that the drink existed before 1908, and that the period directly following 1908 is when people first seem to have been a-buzz about it.
I am afraid that until new evidence or early-and-verifiable documentation from before 1908 is found, the only conclusion about the birth of the Sazerac Cocktail that can be reached is one that will surely hurt the feelings and assumptions of this drink’s myth-makers – especially those in New Orleans. We can only conservatively assume that the Sazerac Cocktail was born in the first decade of the twentieth century – not any time in the nineteenth.
So, if anyone knows of any early textual reference for the Sazerac Cocktail, I would be very excited to read it. Early references for Sazerac Cognac or the Sazerac House in New Orleans (which was so-named because it was the importer for that brand of Cognac brandy) can not be seriously considered references to the Sazerac Cocktail – neither can early references for Peychaud’s bitters (which are not even indicated in the 1908 recipe for the Sazerac Cocktail).
Someone please find something for me earlier than 1908 that will stand up to conservative textual analysis – preferably with a recipe.