If there ever was a recipe for chaos, pairing an aphrodisiac with a spirit once thought to cause madness is a pretty good start. But do oysters and absinthe actually taste good together?
Joshua Boissy and Krystof Zizka of Brooklyn’s Maison Premiere (maisonpremiere.com) think so. The beautiful bar features around 30 oysters and 20 absinthes, the most in New York, and serves them with chilled water drawn from a jade absinthe fountain the owners built themselves. Try a Nootka Sound oyster from Vancouver Island, which features hints of anise, with Duplais Blanche, a Swiss absinthe with a clean, gentle flavor.
St. Paul might not seem like the most natural location for an oyster bar, but the Meritage (meritage-stpaul.com) has a selection any coastal restaurant would envy, offering 15–21 oysters from both coasts. It also features a traditional absinthe fountain from New Orleans. “Absinthe and anything is a tough paring,” says Chef Russell Klein “It’s just such a strong flavor to deal with.”
His suggestion? Start with a Belon oyster, a large, flat oyster from Maine that has a pronounced mineral flavor. Pair that with Kübler, a balanced blanche absinthe from Switzerland that doesn’t overwhelm the oyster with anise flavors.
Carlos Yturria, bar manager of San Francisco brasserie Absinthe (absinthe.com), also recommends sticking to blanche absinthes. The French-made Lucid and the Bay Area-distilled Sirène Absinthe Blanche, with their floral, slightly acidic notes, work well with the restaurant’s 30 oysters, including the creamy Kumamoto and the briny Beausoleil.
How to Pour Absinthe
The key to pouring absinthe is a process called “louching,” which breaks out the liquor’s oils and turns it a cloudy color, releasing its natural aromas into the air.
Pour 1–1¼ ounces of absinthe into a highball glass.
Place one absinthe spoon over the glass and place one Domino sugar cube on top of the spoon.
Drip 4½ ounces of ice-cold water slowly over the sugar cube.