Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sazerac Brings Back Original 1934 Herbsaint Recipe.

Herbsaint has long been a critical ingredient in the world famous Sazerac Cocktail. Both have enjoyed a revival of late as part of the passion for classic cocktails.

So it is with perfect timing that the Sazerac Company of New Orleans has dug deep into its archives to launch a new product called Herbsaint Original. The new product is made according to the same recipe first used by J. Marion Legendre for Herbsaint in 1934.

Shortly after Prohibition ended in late 1933, Legendre - a New Orleans apothecary-turned-entrepreneur - introduced a product he called Legendre Absinthe. Legendre had learned about pastis and absinthe while stationed in France during WWI. Upon his return to New Orleans after the war and with the onset of Prohibition, he secretly made absinthe in his uptown home. His launch of Legendre Absinthe was a dream come true.

Sadly for Legendre, just months after launching his product and in spite of the fact that it did not contain wormwood, the U.S. Government forced him to remove the word 'absinthe' from his brand name amid concerns that absinthe consumption was harmful. Legendre quickly re-named his product Herbsaint and launched an aggressive marketing campaign that called on people to “Drink Herbsaint Wherever Absinthe Is Called For.”

In 1949, after spending 15 years promoting Herbsaint around the United States, Legendre sold it to the Sazerac Company. Legendre died in New Orleans in 1986 at the age of 90.

The recipe for Herbsaint changed a bit over the years and while Herbsaint has been a staple on sophisticated bars for decades, Sazerac hopes the release of the original recipe will rekindle consumer interest in the product as it tasted 75 years ago.

“It has been a lot of fun to work on bringing back the original Herbsaint formula. We’re grateful to have discovered the recipe in our archives and to have had such a wonderful reaction from consumers and bartenders about bringing it back to life. It really is The Spirit of New Orleans,” said Kevin Richards, Sazerac’s Herbsaint brand manager in New Orleans.

Herbsaint Original is 100° proof and is available in 750ml bottles. Sazerac will continue to sell Herbsaint 90° proof, also in 750ml bottles.


Sam Komlenic said...

Great story, Chuck! Do you know what the primary fermentable is? Have you tasted?

Chuck Cowdery said...

I have not tried it but I know it is made at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort and my guess is that the base is their Rain vodka. The base for any absinthe is going to be GNS and since they're making one (i.e., Rain), I assume they're using that.

Greg said...

I'm not a regular vodka drinker but I do like BT's Rain Vodka, so at least the base spirit for Herbsaint is good to start with.

sku said...

Chuck, some absinthes (St. George, for one) are brandy based.

Do you know if the new Herbsaint a true Absinthe?

Chuck Cowdery said...

As I read it, Legendre's original recipe did not contain wormwood so I assume this does not either. My guess is that's what you mean by "a true absinthe."