Absinthe—that clear, green liquor that not so long ago was outlawed for supposedly causing hallucinations—is back at a bar near you, and apparently, better than ever.
It’s infused with a mysterious ingredient called wormwood, a wild plant that contains the trip-inducing chemical called thujone. Absinthe also contains a slew of other bittering agents and aromatic herbs like licorice and tarragon.
Yet, the spirit certainly doesn’t intimidate tipple experts, who are adding spritzes atop their tastiest menu items.
Absinthe shouldn’t scare you, either. But if you’re not yet ready to tip your glass into the absinthe fountain, no problem. We’ve got seven cocktails for you to make at home, each with a different amount of green-fairy contact.
Slowly but surely, you’ll go green. We dare you.
Recipe courtesy Comme Ça, Las Vegas
Super easy: The glass gets a quick rinse of absinthe, then the remaining ingredients are measured out in equal parts to yield this sunny yellow sipper.
Swirl the absinthe in a coupe glass to coat the inside, then spill out the excess. In a cocktail shaker, add the remaining ingredients and ice. Shake well, and strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Recipe courtesy William Elliott, head bartender, Maison Premiere, Brooklyn, NY
Maison Premiere, noted for serving up absinthe and oysters, has created this tropical drink featuring Mansinthe, an absinthe brand backed by musician Marilyn Manson.
Combine all ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend until smooth, and pour into a hurricane glass. Garnish with a bouquet of mint leaves and serve with a straw.
Midnight Milk Punch
Recipe courtesy Christopher James, mixologist, Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, Morristown, NJ
Milk punches are a trendy addition to cocktail menus right now. Most often made with Bourbon or brandy, this variation showcases Tequila and mole bitters for a Mexican twist.
Pour all ingredients except absinthe into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Using an atomizer, spritz absinthe over the top of the drink. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg, and serve with a straw.
Heart of Ruby
Recipe courtesy Kyle Mathis, lead mixologist, Taste By Niche, St. Louis
This drink mixes the bittersweet flavor of grapefruit juice with lightly bitter amaro Cynar, and tops it up with grapefruit soda. St. George’s Absinthe Verte, with notes of lemongrass and tarragon, adds additional interest.
Add the first five ingredients to a Collins glass, and scoop in ice. Top with soda, and stir or swizzle to chill. Finish with bitters.
The Griffith Park Swizzle
Recipe courtesy Sam Ross, bartending consultant, Hinoki & the Bird, Los Angeles
Two dashes of earthy Kübler Absinthe from Switzerland pulls together this colorful, category-defying cocktail that spans both mint julep and tropical drink territory.
In a cocktail shaker, combine first six ingredients. Muddle lightly, but do not grind the mint. Dump ingredients into a Collins glass. Fill about ¾ full of crushed ice, then dash in the bitters. Stir or swizzle lightly so the bitters blend into the drink. Top with more crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Recipe courtesy Drew Sweeney, beverage director, Bodega Negra, New York City
Bearing a passing resemblance to a cucumber-y margarita, just a spoonful of fennel-accented Pernod Absinthe adds complexity.
In a cocktail shaker, muddle 2 cucumber slices. Add remaining liquid ingredients and ice. Shake well, and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with remaining cucumber slices speared on a toothpick.
Recipe courtesy Dan Rook, head bartender, South Water Kitchen, Chicago
“The drink is an homage to Dale DeGroff’s Absinthe Suissesse cocktail,” says Rook. Nothing against the classic (made with orange flower water), but we love how this version evokes chocolate-covered oranges in a glass.
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except garnish with ice and shake well. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with orange zest, if desired.
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