Because of the almost 100-year ban on the drink, the U.S. isn’t exactly brimming with absinthe recipes; expert mixologists are busy making up for the lost time.
Absinthe purists recommend La Louche as the one perfect way to drink absinthe: drip 2-3 ounces of ice-cold water over a sugar cube on a slotted spoon into the beverage until it turns cloudy, and enjoy.
Indeed, that’s the traditional European method of drinking absinthe; but Americans have never really been too enthusiastic about blindly sticking to European traditions. Those of us who can only sit around dreamily puffing Dunhills and misquoting Oscar Wilde for so long want a more “modern” experience. Thus the rebirth of the absinthe cocktail is forcing dancing with the Green Fairy to encompass more than a few new steps.
Absinthe and Fruit Cocktails
Sugary fruits balance the bitter or bittersweet flavor of absinthe without overpowering it. Recipes call for about 1-2 ounces of real absinthe and approximately 2 ounces (or to taste) of chilled fruit juice, limeade, or lemonade. Pour the absinthe into a glass first, add the mixer, and stir or shake vigorously in a cocktail shaker.
A couple of easy beginner absinthe-and-fruit cocktail recipes are as follows:
Pour 1.5 ounces of clear absinthe, ¾ ounce lemon juice, and ¾ ounce simple sugar syrup into a shaker, and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass and top off with soda water. Shake ½ ounce absinthe with 1.5-2 ounces passionfruit or mango puré e; strain into a champagne flute. 1 ounce dry sparkling wine or Brut Champagne may be added if desired.
Fresh pear nectar, grapefruit, or pomegranate juice are also highly recommended as delicious absinthe mixers.
Combining Absinthe with Other Spirits and Liqueurs
These are for the adventurous, as absinthe is definitely strong enough all by itself. Still, some drinkers will want to experiment and see how absinthe mixes with their other favorite alcohols. Just remember that one of these is almost always enough.
Sean S. Graves from Nantucket’s Brant Point Grill has invented the Green Monster: Shake 1 ounce absinthe with 1 ounce Crème de Menthe and 1 ounce heavy cream. Strain into an ice-filled cocktail glass; garnish with mint.
Champagne lovers may simply combine their favorite bubbly to taste with 1.5 ounces of absinthe in a flute. This potent concoction is from Vieux Carré Absinthe and is appropriately called Death in the Afternoon. A ½ ounce of Crème de Violette and/or some blackberry syrup is sometimes included in variations on this type of recipe, too.
Less gutsy drinkers may wish to start out merely rinsing their glass with absinthe before pouring in the French Champagne or sparkling wine. Simply pour some absinthe into a glass, swirl until the inside is coated with the liquid, and discard the alcohol itself. This imparts a nice anise flavor without overly intoxicating the consumer. Of course, few dashes of absinthe in place of full ounces may also be substituted in any of the above recipes to decrease a drink’s potency.
½ ounce of absinthe may also be added to any standard martini or another favorite cocktail recipe to yield an interesting flavor and powerful punch.
Absinthe and Coffee or Tea: Cocktails with Caffeine
A popular way to drink absinthe involves mixing it with coffee after a meal. Because of absinthe’s bitterness, absinthe-and-coffee drinks are usually sweetened and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Absinthe contains a stimulant, to begin with, though, so combining it with caffeine is not for everyone.
Green Fairy Coffee combines 1-ounce absinthe with 1 cup of hot black coffee; top with sweetened whipped cream.
Tea aficionados will prefer ¼ oz. Absinthe in a glass of iced green tea with honey to taste; this blend is said to make a particularly refreshing summertime draught. Conversely, true absinthe-lovers note that substituting hot tea for iced will then produce the ideal warming winter’s eve beverage. In other words, for those who really like absinthe, there doesn’t seem to be any wrong way to drink it at all!