The green fairy, the jade muse, and the mistress of poisons are all the same, yet merely seen as an anise-flavored herbal beverage forever to be hailed as an elixihir of creativity and the cause behind history‘s most treacherous illnesses. Allegedly created in 1790’s by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire of Switzerland as a natural remedy, absinthe gained its popularity among French soldiers who brought the drink back to the cafés of Paris, where it became a fashionable among the bourgeoisie. As absinthe’s reputation grew, so did the many legends that would cause it to nearly disappear. The high-proof absinthe was to blame for causing epilepsy, tuberculosis, insanity, and even a murderous rage among its faithful drinkers. It wasn’t until 1912 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture banned absinthe in America. It seemed that the supposed hazardous liquor would never be tasted again, until now.
After a 95 year exile from U.S. soil, absinthe finally returned to America in 2007. Now that absinthe is considered safe to drink and legal to buy, how does one actually consume it? To solve the mystery, we spoke with master distiller Ted Breaux, considered by many as the “grandfather” of the absinthe resurgence we see going on now.
Below are Breaux’s step-by-step tips on how to properly drink absinthe:
The traditional way to consume absinthe (just like they did back on the sidewalks of Paris) is by louching (pronounced loo-shing).
How to Drink Absinthe Step 1: First pour some absinthe into a small glass. A traditional absinthe glass is designed to measure out about 1 oz.
How to Drink Absinthe Step 2: A slotted spoon and sugar cube are placed to rest on top of the glass.
How to Drink Absinthe Step 3: Ice water is dripped upon the sugar cube and into the absinthe. You should add enough water so that the absinthe turns from a transparent green to a milky translucent green. Adding the water to the absinthe makes the three main herbs (the holy trinity: anise, fennel, and wormwood) more flavorful and robust.
Now that you know how to drink absinthe like a pro, enjoy your success with some of the top absinthe cocktails that are becoming popular in bars across the country. Whether you’re looking for a hot number, a seductive Jell-O shot, or just a remake of an old favorite, here are our picks for the best absinthe cocktails that’ll make you a favorite among your friends at parties and turn other aspiring bartenders green with envy.
Top Absinthe Cocktail: Absinthe Minded Martini
The classic martini is a staple recipe that every alcohol aficionado should know how to make. However, why settle for the usual, bland recipe when it can be spiked with some absinthe? This slight moderation of your typical cocktail results in a rich, intense botanical taste that’ll leave you and guests breathless. Olives need not apply.
½ oz. Absinthe (We used Lucid) ½ oz. Grand Marnier 3 oz. Gin ½ oz. Dry Vermouth 1 Orange or lime peel
Mix the gin and absinthe in a martini shaker. Then swirl Dry Vermouth in a martini glass and poor out what is left. Finish by topping it off with Grand Marnier and garnishing with an orange or lime peel.
Top Absinthe Cocktail: Absinthe Margarita
2 oz. Absinthe Sour Mix ½ oz. Grand Marnier Splash of Tequila Lime wedge
Salt the rim of the glass and then fill it with ice. Add the absinthe and sour mix, splash in the tequila, and float the Grand Marnier. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Top Absinthe Cocktail: Cajun Bloody Maria
2 oz. Absinthe Bloody Mary mix (Extra spicy) Splash of Tabasco Sauce Splash of Worcestershire Sauce Pepper One cooked jumbo shrimp
Fill the glass with ice, and mix the absinthe and the Bloody Mary mix. Splash in the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces, pepper to taste, and finish by garnishing the cocktail with a cooked jumbo shrimp.
Top Absinthe Cocktail: Absinthe Dessert
1 part Absinthe 1 part Irish Cream 1 part Kahlua A pinch of cinnamon
Pour absinthe, Irish Cream, Kahlua, and cinnamon in drink mixer. Shake and pour over three ice cubes.
Top Absinthe Cocktail: Fairy From Hell Jell-O Shots
6 oz. Jell-O (We used lime flavored) 16 oz. Boiling water 10 oz. Cold water 6 oz. Absinthe
Bring the water to a boil and add the Jell-O mix. Then pour in the cold water and absinthe and stir. Pour the mix in shot glasses or plastic cups and leave in the refrigerator until gelled.
Top Absinthe Cocktail: Absinthe Frappe
1 oz. Absinthe (We used Lucid)
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
6-8 Fresh Mint Leaves
1 oz. of Soda Water
1 Mint sprig
Muddle mint leaves in the bottom of a frappe style glass. Add absinthe, simple syrup and fill with crushed ice. Pour mixture into shaker and shake vigorously. Pour contents into glass, top with splash of soda water and garnish with mint sprig.
Top Absinthe Cocktail: Absinthe a la Playa
1 oz. Absinthe (We used Lucid)
1 oz. Coconut Rum
1 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 Sliced star fruit for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, add ice, absinthe, coconut rum, and pineapple juice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with one sliced star fruit. Drink can also be poured in a shot glass.
Additional reporting by Rachel Williams