A tumbleweed rolls by a deserted saloon, its doors creaking slowly as if yearning for better days. Dust has long settled on the ornate glassware, covering the traces of many poker games lost and even more drunken shots fired. A rider appears at the prairie’s horizon. She’s determined. She has to keep at it. She’s got to START WRITING HER BLOG AGAIN. She pulls up a chair at the saloon and scans its shelves. You lucky devil. There’s just enough for a Saint Denis Sazerac. Wouldn’t you want to know how to mix one?
So welcome to my first cocktail from video games! This week we’re diving into the world of Red Dead Redemption and the drink they don’t take neat.
The Sazerac recipe’s written in a collectible note called “Saint Denis Trolley Rider’s Digest”. If you’d missed it, mount up and ride down to Saint Denis train station. Outside there’s a counter with a sign for “Refrigerated Ice Transit”. Fun fact: cocktails were initially served hot, and here’s a historical note to explain RDR’s worldbuilding here.
Take the reader’s digest from the counter:
“Pah! Too much hassle for an outlaw!”, I hear you say, “I’ll just go for one drink with Lenny.”. And you may, good sir. But in such turbulent times, mixing a drink in the safety of your home is a WANTED skill.
So for an authentic Saint Denis Sazerac, we’d need to:
Keep it French with some Cognac. Red Dead Redemption 2 has a bunch of defining cinematic moments that have stayed with me till this day. Riding from the swampy landscape of Lemoyne into the melting pot of Saint Denis was one. The city’s loosely based on New Orleans, where the Sazerac House and its signature cocktail were established. Opting for cognac would nod to the wealthy class of Saint Denis and its origins as a French colony. But rye whiskey is more fitting for rugged outlaws and bounty hunters, maybe? To celebrate that metropolitan blend, I chose to mix a working man’s rye into a socialite’s glass. Feel free to choose a rocks glass, though!
Get some bitters from a Saint Denis pharmacist. The game actually features a few like Dr. Claussen’s Bitters, which “treats malaise, cures fatigue and quickly renews vigor”. Uh-huh. We’d have to ask Arthur Morgan about that flavor profile. In the real world, your best choice would be Peychaud’s Bitters, with its little New Orleans backstory. It’s not a staple in most liqueur shops, though, so the Angostura Bitters is fine too.
Patiently dissolve sugar cubes with ice. Which is tricky because of, well, physics. You’d be better off making Simple Syrup at home, by dissolving 1:1 white sugar and hot water. Cool it, bottle it up, and use it in relevant cocktails for a smoother texture. Or stay true to the 19th-century dental hygiene and grind those sugar grains with the few teeth you have left.
Okay. Let’s get mixing already!
What I personally chose from my saloon’s shelves:
- 60 ml (2 oz) Bulleit 95 Rye
- 1 tsp Simple Syrup (homemade)
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 dash Absinthe
- Coat: Absinthe
- Garnish: Lemon peel
- Leave your guns at the bar. Roll up your sleeves.
- Pour a little absinthe into a drinking glass. Roll it around to evenly coat the glass. Fill it with crushed ice and leave it to chill. Alternatively, pop it into the freezer.
- Pour the cocktail ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice cubes and stir until the drink is cold.
- Toss the contents out of the drinking glass. It should now be chilled, with an aroma of absinthe.
- Strain the cocktail into the drinking glass. I used a vintage julep strainer here, but anything to trap the ice shards will do.
- Twist the lemon peel above the glass to release its oils. Run the peel around the glass’s rim. Drop the peel into the cocktail or be the bitter cowboy who despises lemons in his poison.
- Serve. Drink. Keep on livin’ the outlaw life.
Suggested Sipping Soundtrack:
Anything from the Dark Country genre, like Blues Saraceno:
Obviously, the Red Dead Redemption 2 OST:
That’s it, folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little horseback ride to the mixology country.
Let me know what other game drinks I should make!
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