What Cheese Pairs Best with a Sazerac Cocktail?

Quick take: pair a Sazerac cocktail with Saint-Marcellin

In our cheese + cocktail pairing project, I combine my cocktail know-how with the encyclopedic cheese knowledge of Jennifer Greco of Chez Loulou for a series of classic cocktail and cheese pairings.

With Mardi Gras happening next month, we decided to work out a cheese recommendation for New Orleans’ official state cocktail, the sazerac.

February Pairing: Sazerac Cocktail with Saint-Marcellin

Saint-Marcellin makes a nice pairing with a 1/2 cognac and 1/2 rye Sazerac

Notes, discoveries and tips worth sharing:

-Though the Sazerac was originally made with Cognac, there was a shift to rye whisky as Cognac become more difficult to procure in the U.S. (and presumably in France during the phylloxera epidemic) More recently, craft bartenders have been combining both for a half rye/half cognac Sazerac. We tried all three versions with our cheeses.

-We preferred the half and half (like earlier cocktails, for this might be due to preference for/familiarity with Rittenhouse 100). Jennifer preferred either the Sazerac rye version or the half and half. And different cheeses worked better with different versions.

-While Saint-Marcellin was our overall winner, we found that the hard, aged cheeses worked better with the half and half version. The runny cheeses worked better with the Cognac version.

-Taupinette and Rocamadour were other cheese that sort of worked with the cocktail.

-Other cheeses tried but not recommended to pair with the Sazerac cocktail: Romarin, Brie de Meaux, Ossau-Iraty, Vieille Mimolette, Comté, Fourme d’Ambert, Blueberry washed Stilton, and Petit Gaugry (which was bar far the worst pairing)

-Curiously, the Comté combined with the Cognac Sazerac resulted in a coconut oil flavor.

-While it’s customary to do an Absinthe wash on the glass, I like my Sazerac and glass to be icy cold.  I sprayed the inside of the glass using an atomizer and then put it in the freezer. Sazerac purists might not like it, but I found it worked nicely.

-I also add a drop of Angostura bitters to give it more depth

I spray the Absinthe in the glass & then put it all in the freezer so it’s icy cold for the cocktail

Rye Sazerac
5 ml rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar to one part water)
3 healthy shakes of Peychaud’s bitters
1 shake of Angostura bitters
2 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
lemon peel for garnish
Absinthe for wash

Rinse or spray an old fashioned glass with absinthe and chill in freezer
Combine syrup, bitters and whisky in mixing glass over ice and stir well
Strain into glass
Express lemon oils over drink and toss the peel

Cognac Sazerac
5 ml rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar to one part water)
3 healthy shakes of Peychaud’s bitters
1 shake of Angostura bitters
2 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
lemon peel for garnish
Absinthe for wash

Rinse or spray an old fashioned glass with absinthe and chill in freezer
Combine syrup, bitters and whisky in mixing glass over ice and stir well
Strain into glass
Express lemon oils over drink and toss the peel

Half and Half Sazerac
5 ml rich simple syrup (2 parts sugar to one part water)
3 healthy shakes of Peychaud’s bitters
1 shake of Angostura bitters
1 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye
lemon peel for garnish
Absinthe for wash

Rinse or spray an old fashioned glass with absinthe and chill in freezer
Combine syrup, bitters and whisky in mixing glass over ice and stir well
Strain into glass
Express lemon oils over drink and toss the peel

Brie de meaux is great, but not the best choice for a Sazerac cocktail

If you’re here, I already know you like cocktails. But, if you want to learn more about these or other cheeses, I recommend some time on Jennifer’s blog and Instagram or signing up for one of her cheese workshops with Paris by Mouth.

Up next month: What Cheese to Pair with a Pisco Sour?

About Forest Collins 352 Articles
Cocktail Expert Forest Collins is the creator of 52martinis, an online guide to the best cocktail bars in Paris and other small batch spirits news from France. We've also recently launched an app so you can keep all that bar info in your pocket!