If brown, bitter cocktails were only good in cold months, then the classic Sazerac would not have been invented in New Orleans. This spicy, chilled drink is as refreshing as a whiskey Popsicle. It's simple to make (see below) but as complex in flavor as a cocktail gets: orangey, woodsy, aromatic flavors come from bitters (Paychaud's are traditional); licorice comes from a nod of Pernod or Herbsaint. There's sweetness from sugar and, beneath it all, the tangy fire of good rye.
For an extra kick, the New Orleansbased Sazerac company has just reintroduced a limited amount of the original six-year-old Sazerac Rye ($20), which it stopped making 116 years ago. Most bottles were distributed in and around the Crescent City, but plenty went out of state. Made to be mixed in the eponymous cocktail, it's less expensive and a bit sweeter than the company's eighteen-year-old rye whiskey, which is a premium sipping drink.
Scorecard: Sazerac Cocktail
2 ounces rye whiskey
1/4 to 1 tsp. sugar (to taste)
2 dashes of bitters
splash of Pernod or Herbsaint
Chill one tumbler and set aside. Combine sugar and bitters in another. Add rye and ice and stir. Swirl Pernod or Herbsaint in the chilled glass and pour out excess. Strain drink into the liqueur-coated glass and garnish with a lemon twist.