Never bothered to make a sazerac before: what a mean little chore of a drink. Asks you to put ice in a glass, and then in another glass, and then to throw the first ice away. Asks you to put absinthe in that now-empty glass and then throw that absinthe away. You’re not even really supposed to put the lemon twist in the drink; you’re supposed to twist it over the drink, ejecting a bundle of zest, and then you’re supposed to throw the twist away.
Most of what constitutes a sazerac is ghosts and garbage. The occasional ingredient actually makes its way in, and eventually you have an amber hammer of alcohol. It’s a great drink. It’s luxurious. It’s wasteful in the way that only luxurious people can afford to be.
At the risk of being a pedantic bore, I’ll add an overly serious comment to this lovely post: a lot of this is just general bartending technique, and some of it is a bit vestigial. The discarded ice is to chill the drinking glass (a skip you can step if you follow the Sasha Petraske school of home bartending and keep your glassware in the freezer). The two glasses thing is kind of a mystical old school touch you can do if you want style points, but most modern pros will stir the drink in a mixing glass, just like a Manhattan or any other all-booze drink. The lemon peel actually is a garnish and part of the drink although some bartenders will balance it on top of the glass rather than dropping it in. And while the absinthe rinse may seem like a waste, it’s a pretty common way of incorporating one of the more aggressive flavors on the back bar into a drink without letting it overwhelm the drink—kind of like seasoning a dish.
All of that said, part of the fun of the Sazerac is the pomp, mystique, and history that attends it. Mr. Pigeon might be amused to learn that in certain New Orleans bars, the bartenders give the glass a good theatrical twirl in the air to fully coat it with absinthe. It’s silly, but you have to love it.