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Wrecking Bar's Ian Cox On Sazeracs, Bartending, More

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Yesterday's map of the 12 places to order a perfect Sazerac in Atlanta highlights bars, and now, here's an interview with Ian Cox of Wrecking Bar Brewpub in which the bartender talks the cocktail, bartending in general, and recipes below.

Why do you love a Sazerac?
It's the classic American cocktail. Being a history nerd, I love all things history. [The Sazerac] is a drink with a great history behind it. For such a simple drink, very few people get it right.

Speaking of history, how did you arrive at bartending?
It all began because I needed money to go to Vegas for a bachelor party. I started bouncing at a college bar [in Chapel Hill]. I never went to Vegas. The last Friday of classes was my first night bartending. The rest is history.

After a stint at a beach restaurant making "lots of blender drinks" you moved to Colorado, then to Charleston, before ending here at Wrecking Bar. How did these experiences forge the skilled barkeep you are today?
In Crested Butte I ran the Ice Bar at Uley's Cabin for two winters. This is where I was introduced to BarSmarts [certification] and where I grew to love classic cocktails. At Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub, I picked up a knowledge of beer, necessary for working at Wrecking Bar.

What do you love about being behind the bar at Wrecking Bar?
I love how serious everyone is about cocktails, our whiskey, and our beer. I should have said that one first, beer. And our food. It is amazing to have Terry Koval in the kitchen. I love how homey it is. Not to sound cliché, but it is a place where everyone knows your name. We love that you come here. We love that people like to talk cocktails and whiskey while we work.

I notice you say "we" a lot when you talk about this place.
We really have a great team here. Terry, Bob Sandage. All of our bartenders have a CSS [Certified Spirit Specialist]. I learn just as much from patrons. I have beer geeks talking to me about beer while I talk about my cocktails.

What is your go-to cocktail?
Mine is definitely a Manhattan. You can tell a lot about a barkeep by how they make a Manhattan. Ed. note: Ian recently came in 1st place in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience with his Atlanta Port Authority Manhattan.

Walk me through your Sazerac recipe.
· 2 oz quality rye. I use Rittenhouse. The high proof works well with classic cocktails. You need a spice, rye whiskey to balance the Peychaud's sweetness. Bourbon just wouldn't work.
· Drop about a bar spoon of absinthe on ice in a glass. I use St. George. It's a nice craft absinthe that isn't too heavy. I rinse the ice because I want to taste the absinthe.
· Strain the absinthe and use the ice to stir the drink.
· Add ¼ oz agave. I use agave instead of sugar.
· Add 3 dashes of Peychaud's bitters. If it doesn't contain Peychaud's, it is not a Sazerac.
· Stir. If you shake it, I will send it back.
· Serve neat with an orange twist expressed, rubbed around the rim, and placed in the glass.
Angela Hansberger
· Where to Drink Sazeracs in Atlanta Right Now [-EATL-]
· All Wrecking Bar Brewpub Coverage [-EATL-]
Ian Cox.

Wrecking Bar Brewpub

292 Moreland Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30307