Sazerac is not only a cocktail, but a company that has its roots in 1850's New Orleans, when Aaron Bird bought the Merchant Exchange "coffeehouse" (i.e. saloon) from Sewell Taylor, a local businessman and liquor importer. Bird renamed the building the Sazerac Coffeehouse, and began to use Sazerac du Forge et Fils brandy in a cocktail that included sugar, water, absinthe and Peychaud's bitters. This drink came to be called the Sazerac.
In 1869, Thomas Handy bought the Sazerac Coffeehouse and began to build a spirits importation company. He bought the rights to Peychaud's in 1873, and by 1890, was producing a bottled Sazerac cocktail with rye whiskey instead of brandy.
The modern company was founded by Handy's secretary, C.J. O'Reilly, and has been in the liquor business ever since, except during Prohibition, when they were a grocery store and delicatessen.
The Sazerac company is family owned, and operates quite a few major distilleries: Buffalo Trace, Glenmore, A. Smith Bowman, Fleischmann and Barton. They also own the Mr. Boston brand.