Posted on February 17 2018
Absinthe is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium ("grand wormwood"), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green colour but may also be colourless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as "la fée verte" (the green fairy). Although it is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a liqueur, absinthe is not traditionally bottled with added sugar; it is therefore classified as a spirit.
Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the late 18th century. It rose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th and early 20th century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Owing in part to its association with bohemian culture, the consumption of absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Aleister Crowley, Erik Satie, Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Byron and Alfred Jarry were all known absinthe drinkers.
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Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen. The chemical compound thujone, although present in the spirit in only trace amounts, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in much of Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria-Hungary. Although absinthe was vilified, it has not been demonstrated to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirits. Recent studies have shown that absinthe's psychoactive properties (apart from that of the alcohol) have been exaggerated.
The Absinthe Drinker by Viktor Oliva
Because of absinthe's strong flavour and high alcohol content (45–74% ABV / 90–148 U.S. proof) it is used sparingly in most cocktails, often mixed with larger volumes of other, less potent spirits. But even just an absinthe rinse (swirling the inside of a glass with absinthe before filling it with another cocktail) adds a strong licorice flavour and some extra intensity.
La Fée Verte (Absinthe Drip)
The simplest, most traditional way to drink absinthe is with sugar and water. Pour a shot of absinthe into a shot glass. Balance an absinthe spoon over the glass with a sugar cube in it, then slowly pour water over the sugar cube and into the absinthe.
This iconic New Orleans cocktail dates to the 1850s, when it was served at the Sazerac Coffee House. American whiskey eventually replaced the brandy of the original. Rinsing the glass with absinthe gives the cocktail the right touch of herbal perfume without upsetting the balance. Recipe here.
Corpse Reviver #2
The Corpse Reviver family of cocktails are intended as hangover cures, hence the name. Most of the corpse reviver cocktails have been lost to time, but the cognac and gin based Corpse Reviver and Corpse Reviver #2 cocktails that were first listed in the Savoy Cocktail Handbook by Harry Craddock in 1930 have survived to this day. The Corpse Reviver #2 is the more popular of the corpse revivers. Recipe here.
A traditional New Orleans cocktail, the drink was first concocted at the Old Absinthe House bar in 1874 by Cayetano Ferrer, and was served to famous customers such as Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, and General Robert E. Lee, to name a few. Recipe here.
Death in the Afternoon
Death in the Afternoon, also called the Hemingway or the Hemingway Champagne, is a cocktail made up of absinthe and Champagne invented by Ernest Hemingway. The cocktail shares a name with Hemingway's book Death in the Afternoon, and the recipe was published in So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon, 1935 cocktail book with contributions from famous authors. Hemingway's original instructions were: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly." Death in the Afternoon is known for both its decadence and its high strength. Recipe here.