Absinthe Cocktails: How To Use Absinthe

by
July 30, 2020

We’ve covered the basics of absinthe which included a bit of history as well as some serving tips before. But briefly, the first thing you should know is that you should never shoot absinthe. Traditionally you’d serve absinthe with chilled water to give you a ratio of somewhere between 3:1 or 5:1 water-to-absinthe. Additionally, if you prefer your drink a little sweeter you would first rest an absinthe spoon across your glass and place a sugar cube on it. Then you’d slowly pour (or drip) the chilled water in your glass and enjoy. But beyond the traditional service, there are several absinthe cocktails you can make.

Most drinks will use just a bar spoon or so of absinthe, but there are a couple of cocktails where you’ll need a bit more. Still, the amount you’ll need is under two ounces for most drinks. This is understandable due to the proof and flavor that absinthe will bring to the table. A little goes a long way. As to whether to use the absinthe verte or the absinthe blanche, that will be up to you. The absinthe verte won’t really muddle the color of a whiskey-based drink. But it could affect other absinthe cocktails such as a Corpse Reviver #2.

If you think you don’t like the taste of absinthe, I encourage you to try a couple of these classic recipes. You may find that you like keeping company with the Green Fairy after all.

Absinthe Cocktails

Absinthe Frappe

This eye-opener was created in 1874 by Cayetano Ferrer in New Orleans at what is now known as The Old Absinthe House in the French Quarter. It was a popular daytime drink in the US in the late 1800s until 1912 when absinthe was banned in the US. An Absinthe Frappe is great if you’re looking for full-on absinthe flavor, but you’re not interested in traditional absinthe service.

– 1 ½ oz absinthe
– ¼ oz simple syrup
– ½ oz anisette
– 1 ½ to 2 oz chilled water

To make: Prepare an Absinthe or Collins glass with crushed or pebble ice and set aside. Next, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into prepared glass. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint. Serve with a straw.

absinthe cocktails: Absinthe FrappeAbsinthe Frappe

Corpse Reviver No. 2

Corpse Reviver cocktails are so named as “eye-openers” to help cure a hangover. Barman Harry Craddock included recipes for both No. 1 and No. 2 versions in the 1930 “The Savoy Cocktail Book”, but the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is by far the more popular cocktail. He called for Kina Lillet in his recipe, however that product is no longer in production. Cocchi Americano makes a fine substitute or you could use Lillet for a slightly sweeter aromatized wine.

– ¾ oz gin
– ¾ oz Cointreau
– ¾ oz Cocchi Americano
– ¾ oz lemon juice
– absinthe to rinse (about a bar spoon)
– orange twist for garnish

To make: First, chill a cocktail glass. Then add absinthe to rinse the inside of the chilled glass. Discard any excess and set the glass aside. Next, add all remaining ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Sazerac

This is another in the line of absinthe cocktails with a link to New Orleans. Although there’s some debate over whether Sazeracs should be made using rye whiskey or cognac, we’re fans of both. It really just depends on the day as to which one we’re likely to use. If you still can’t decide you can always split the difference with equal parts rye and cognac.

Recently The Sazerac Company reintroduced the Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac. This brand disappeared in the 19th century after the Phylloxera epidemic wiped out most of the grapevines in France. If you prefer cognac in your Sazerac, give it a try.

– 2 oz rye whiskey
– 4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
– 1 sugar cube
– lemon peel
– absinthe to rinse (about a bar spoon)

To make: Add just enough absinthe to coat a chilled rocks glass. Discard any excess and set the glass aside. In a separate mixing glass, add the sugar cube and bitters then muddle. Then add rye/cognac and ice. Stir until well chilled then strain into prepared chilled rocks glass. Squeeze the lemon twist above the glass to express its oils and discard.

absinthe cocktails: SazeracSazerac

Remember the Maine

This Manhattan variation was first attributed in “The Gentleman’s Companion: Being An Exotic Drinking Book” written by American author Charles H. Baker in 1939. He writes of “a Hazy Memory of a Night in Havana during the Unpleasantness of 1933, when Each Swallow Was Punctuated with Bombs Going off on the Prado or the Sound of 3 [inch] Shells Being Fired at the Hotel NACIONAL, then haven for Certain Anti-Revolutionary Officers. Treat this with the respect it deserves, gentlemen.”

The name of the drink refers to the USS Maine, a US Navy ship that was on patrol in Havana Harbor in February 1898. At the time, Spain occupied Cuba. On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine mysteriously exploded and 266 of the 350 crew members and officers on board were killed.

Although it was widely reported that the Spaniards were responsible—which contributed to the outbreak of the Spanish-American war—the explosion was later attributed to a fire in the ship’s coal bunker. “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!”, was the rallying cry of the time incited by the American press, particularly New York papers owned by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer who engaged in yellow journalism. How this particular cocktail came to take on this name is still a mystery, but the absinthe adds to the firepower of this boozy drink.

– 2 oz rye whiskey
– ¾ oz sweet vermouth
– 2 tsp Cherry Heering
– ½ tsp absinthe
brandied cherry, to garnish

To make: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass or cocktail coupe. Add the brandied cherry for garnish.

Death in the Afternoon

This recipe, courtesy of Ernest Hemingway, further proves there really was nothing the American writer wouldn’t drink. Hemingway offered the drink up for a collection of cocktail recipes by leading authors published in 1935 called “So Red the Nose; or Breath in the Afternoon”. His recipe is one of the more heavy-handed absinthe cocktails. You may want to dial it down a bit and/or add a dash of simple syrup. He also recommends that you drink 3-5 of these slowly. You may want to adjust that number if you’d like to see The Sun Also Rise(s) again.

–  1 ½ oz absinthe
– chilled Champagne (about 4-5 oz)

To make: First, add the absinthe to a chilled Champagne flute or coupe. Then fill the glass with chilled Champagne. Feel free to substitute other dry, sparkling wines like Cava. Use Prosecco or Asti if you prefer the drink to be a bit sweeter.


Ready to whip up your own absinthe cocktails?

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