The taboo surrounding absinthe is real.
That’s why we’re here to tell you: Don’t be afraid. Not only is absinthe’s herbaceous and floral palette refreshing--its versatility in cocktails is unmatched.
So, to that end, we’ve brought together five absinthe cocktails you should try so you can break the taboo without fear.
Before we get into dismantling the taboo around absinthe, let’s have a little information about it.
Absinthe is an anise-flavored liquor that hails from Switzerland. To make it, anise, fennel, and wormwood are soaked in base alcohol mixed with other herbs and flowers. The liquor is then distilled, yielding colorless alcohol that is either bottled or colored with the natural chlorophyll found in herbs–hence its green hue.
With a high ABV (generally between 45-74 percent) this aperitif is generally watered down or incorporated into cocktails for an earthy and effervescent flavor.
Let’s face it head on: Absinthe has some baggage.
Labeled as the “green fairy” in the late 19th-century Bohemian paradise that was Paris, France, absinthe carries unreliable stories of hallucinating artists and psychotic breaks.
Fueled by these stories, the United States banned absinthe in 1915.
Those who were for the ban in the United States argued that a compound released from the wormwood during fermentation, called thujone, causes mind-altering events. High doses of thujone are toxic (just like high amounts of alcohol). But very little thujone is left in absinthe at the end of the distillation process. After a resurgence of testing in the United States in the 1970s, researchers found that there is not enough thujone in absinthe for it to be dangerous.
That’s why the ban in the United States was lifted in 2007. Since then, absinthe has enjoyed a resurgence, with mixologists taking the time to incorporate absinthe recipes into their repertoires.
And so, drum roll, please.
Here are the five best absinthe cocktails you should try.
This playfully named cocktail accentuates all the best aspects of absinthe. The citrus harmonizes with the floral accents in the Lillet Blanc and elderflower liqueur to unlock the refreshing potential of the anise, fennel, and wormwood in the absinthe.
Want to put a twist on a classic brunch drink? Look no further than this ginger-infused absinthe delight. The sweetness of the ginger syrup contrasts with the bright citrus and the herbs in the absinthe to deepen its flavors. Great for any Sunday brunch, this cocktail brings a unique element to a classic drink.
Ginger Simple Syrup – Yields 8 servings
Yes, Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway danced with the green fairy as well. Hemingway preferred drinks with little to no sugar, substituting fruit juices and Maraschino liqueur. The herbs in the absinthe complement the white rum, leaving you feeling able to contemplate life’s mysteries like Hemingway himself.
This old favorite (whose name comes from the Broadway play of the same name) is a martini-style cocktail with absinthe and crème de violette liqueur. The subtle floral flavors and violet hue of this cocktail are reminiscent of an older time.
Last, but certainly not least, is the classic way to drink absinthe. This French-style method is the preferred way to experience traditional absinthe, and though it requires some special equipment and patience, it is worth it.
The taboo surrounding absinthe may be real, but your fear doesn’t have to be. Pick up a bottle of absinthe and make a fantastic cocktail to break through the taboo.
The green fairy will reward you.
What is your favorite absinthe cocktail?