Best, Simple and Most Delicious Absinthe Cocktail Recipes

Absinthe is an emerald-green liquor that doesn’t look quite natural. Culturally, absinthe evokes brilliant artists, gothic fiction, psychosis, and brave experimentation. These cultural ties, along with their spooky look, have given birth to cocktail names filled with creepy themes. Wormwood, Obituary, Wolf’s Bite, and Corpse River are a few examples.

But we’re here to change all that. What better way to celebrate Spring than to try some recipes using la fée verte—the green fairy? Say goodbye to the season of death and hello to the season of Spring by taking some savory risks using absinthe this year!

Scroll down if you want to get right to our absinthe recipes. We’ve picked a few recipes that feature absinthe without using other completely bizarre ingredients that you’ll only use once. We found six of the very best, classic absinthe recipes to try this Spring. In the meantime, if you want to show off the liquor’s amazing green color, consider using a decanter to put the color on full display. (This one is amazing!)

Absinthe is the nectar of great gothic artists.

Absinthe is a liquor that’s anise-flavored. It’s made from the leaves of Artemisia absinthium (Grand Wormwood), along with green anise, sweet fennel, and other herbs. It’s massively alcoholic, usually in the neighborhood of 100 proof or higher. It’s far more alcoholic than gin or vodka.  Because of that, most people water the spirit down to drink it. Although absinthe is usually sold as spooky green alcohol, it’s naturally colorless. It can be found in a range of colors—red, blue, or green—thanks to the magical properties of food coloring. But the best varieties get their color and flavor from the herbs.

Absinthe is actually a Swiss drink, but it gained popularity and notoriety thanks to the great artist movement in Paris in the late 1800s. Van Gogh is probably the most well-known consumer of absinthe. (The liquor is often blamed as the catalyst for his mental breakdown.) But Van Gogh wasn’t the only one during that time who was drinking absinthe. It was popular with other artists like Ernest Hemingway, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Byron, and many others. Many of these artists even featured the drink prominently in their paintings. Take a look at some of the familiar impressionist paintings of people in cafes or dance halls. Look again. What are these people drinking in the paintings? Likely as not, it’s absinthe on their tables.

The term “happy hour” was coined during the heyday of absinthe drinking. L’heure verte (“the green hour”) was 5 p.m., the time when all the drinkers went to the café for their absinthe. (Read more about Happy Hour here.)

How To Enjoy Absinthe

You probably don’t want to shoot absinthe straight because of its high alcoholic strength. It’s potent, and the taste isn’t everyone’s favorite.

Instead, a better way to drink absinthe is by using The Absinthe Ritual. This involves slowly dribbling cold water over a sugar cube and into the cocktail glass. (Check out a video here.) Note that you need a spoon with holes in it to filter the sugar/water mix. The sugar helps to offset the bitter taste of the wormwood.  The sugar melting creates a cloudy, yellow drink, which is called the louche effect.  (Absinthe’s louche effect is explained here.)

Another variation of the Absinthe Ritual is where you set the sugar cube on fire. Known as the “fire ritual,” the sugar cube is first soaked in absinthe, set on fire, and then dropped into the absinthe. This, in turn, sets the entire drink aflame. Water is then poured over the flame until it goes out. (Watch a video here.) This version of the ritual is a little sexier and more dangerous, naturally. But most mixologists wouldn’t recommend it. That’s because the caramelization of the ice cube actually destroys the botanical hints and texture of the drink.

Of course, another way to enjoy absinthe is to drink it in a cocktail where the spirit is mixed with other elements. This cuts down on the high-proof alcohol and can bring out the flavors in interesting ways. Here are six of our favorite, simple recipes using ingredients that you likely already have at home (or can easily find at a liquor store).

Here are some of our best, simplest, and most delicious absinthe recipes.

Absinthe Drip

This is the classic recipe using the Absinthe Ritual! And yes, a hard cube of sugar is essential.

You will need:

  • 1 ½ ounces absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Coldwater, for the drip

First, pour your absinthe into a stemmed glass. Next, place a slotted spoon over the rim of the glass and set the sugar cube on top of the spoon. Next, slowly pour or drip 4-6 ounces of ice-cold filtered water over the sugar cube and into the glass. Bonus points if you can figure out a drip system to make this water pouring happen. When the mixture is completely cloudy, the drink should be ready. Stir, taste for strength and sweetness, and adjust with more water or sugar if necessary.

Obituary Cocktail

You will need:

  • 2 ounces gin
  • ¼ ounce dry vermouth
  •  ¼ ounce absinthe
  • Lime peel for garnish

Pack a shaker with ice, and pour all ingredients into the shaker. Shake hard. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a citrus peel, and serve.

Death in the Afternoon

This drink was invented by Ernest Hemingway! It’s an easy drink to enjoy and has a black licorice finish.

You will need:

  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) absinthe
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 4 ounces (half a cup) Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Orange peel for garnish

First, pour the absinthe and simple syrup into a cocktail glass. Top it off with sparkling wine or Champagne. Garnish and serve.

Death in the Afternoon Cocktail


You will need:

  • 2 ounces dry vermouth
  • 1 ounce Benedictine (a French herbal liqueur)
  • 3 dashes absinthe
  • Orange twist for garnish

In a shaker packed with ice, add the dry vermouth, Benedictine, and absinthe. Shake well. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

Chrysanthemum Cocktail

White Elephant

You will need:

  • 2 ounces white rum
  •  ¾ ounce simple syrup
  •  ½ ounce lime juice
  • 1 large twist of grapefruit, plus another for garnish
  • 2 bar spoons absinthe

First, half-salt the rim of a chilled martini glass. Next, combine all the ingredients (including the twist) in a shaker with little or no ice. Shake hard, then strain into the martini glass. Discard the twist. Garnish with a new grapefruit twist.

Corpse Reviver #2

You will need:

  • 1 dash absinthe
  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth (or Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano)
  • 1 ounce premium orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier or Cointreau)
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Orange peel, for garnish

Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with absinthe and toss the excess liquor. Next, pack a cocktail shaker with ice, and add all the ingredients. Shake hard, then strain into the rinsed glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

Love these recipes? Then check out our other blog article, 5 Absinthe Cocktails to Break the Taboo.

Corpse Reviver 2


Looking for absinthe? Here are the best absinthe brands.

Absinthe can sometimes try to cash in on its edgy, not-quite-legal persona, and there are a lot of bootlegged versions out there. But if you are looking for something tried and true, then these are your go-to, best absinthe brands to try:

Channel your inner artist with absinthe.

Some of the world’s best artists were fans of absinthe. And perhaps its alleged mind-altering abilities made them gravitate towards the high-proof spirit. Van Gogh was probably under its influence when he cut off his ear. But is the spooky, fashionable beverage, with its wormwood, really to blame for the break with reality? Scientists seem to think not. It was the liquor’s high proof that was probably at fault. So, drink in moderation, and dilute your absinthe with these fantastic cocktail recipes! What is your favorite recipe that uses absinthe?

Tell us in the comments!